Web Directions Design 2018

MelbourneApril 12 & 13 2018

User Research, CX, UX, UI, Product and Interaction, the world's leading design experts, only in Melbourne, April 2018.

Day 1

  • Melbourne: April 12th
8:00 am



Serving fine barista coffee, thanks to Twilio, to get your heart started.

9:00 am


John Allsopp, Web Directions

9:15 am

Designing Inclusive Products

Sara Wachter Boettcher, Principal Rare Union

Most of us start projects with good intentions—we want to make things welcoming, seamless, and maybe even fun to use. But too often, toxic cultures within tech result in products that have all sorts of biases embedded in them: “smart scales” that assume everyone wants to lose weight, form fields that fail for queer people, résumé-reading algorithms that are biased against women, image-recognition software that doesn’t work for people of color. As tech becomes increasingly central to our users' days—and intertwined with their most intimate lives—we have more responsibility than ever to consider who could be harmed or left out by our decisions.

In this talk, we’ll take a hard look at how our industry’s culture—its lack of diversity, its “fail fast” ethos, its obsession with engagement, and its chronic underinvestment in understanding the humans it’s designing for—creates products that perpetuate bias, manipulate and harm users, undermine democracy, and ultimately wreak havoc. Then, we’ll talk about what we can do about it: how we can uncover assumptions in our work, vet product decisions against a broader range of people and situations, have difficult conversations with our teams and companies, and pursue a more ethical and inclusive way forward for our industry.

10:15 am

Morning Break


10:45 am

Influencing Decisions with Design Research

Stephanie Troeth, Head of Design Research (ex) Telegraph Group UK

As designers, we see it as our responsibility to come up with the best solution possible to any given problem. But how well do we know the problem? Can we influence how a problem ought to be solved?

In this talk, Steph discusses about the challenges and rewards of bringing research forward in the design process—how we can better articulate the value of design through research, so that we can begin to use design research to drive the direction of organisational strategy.

11:35 am

Why Designers should care about blockchain

Stefan Schroeder, Experience Lead SapientRazorfish

The technology revolution is here and it is not virtual reality or voice assistants: blockchain, a young industry where excitement is huge around cryptocurrency. However, blockchain is more than bitcoin and making fast money, blockchain evangelists think it can remarkably improve our life. But so far most concepts are technology driven and design in all aspects (CX, UX, Visual, Service and Product design) doesn't play a big role when people think about blockchain and was not part of the revolution so far. That's why this talk will explore the role of design in the blockchain space.

Many blockchain applications don't have an interface yet or do not have an impact on the front-end, but how can we apply design thinking to experiment with and design future products and services based on the new technology foundation? How can we help others to better understand the value, benefits and opportunities blockchain could provide to people, users, customers, organisations and businesses? What are design principles to create trust in a technology that offers complete transparency, privacy and security? What are the next steps for designers to be part and influence the revolution?

12:00 pm

Designing User Experiences with Eye Tracking

Eduardo Velloso, Lecturer, Researcher University of Melbourne

In recent years, we have witnessed a revolution in eye tracking technologies. Eye trackers that used to cost tens of thousands of dollars, requiring awkward head-mounts and convoluted calibration procedures now cost less than a few hundred dollars and are simple to set up and easy to use. As technology decreases in size and cost, it is easy to envision a world in which eye trackers will ship by default with interactive appliances, similarly to how any phone or laptop now comes with an integrated webcam.

This context creates a need for principles that guide the design of interactive systems that take input from the eyes. This talk will explore the principles of gaze that make it such a compelling way of interacting with computers and mobile devices.

12:25 pm

Using Jobs To Be Done Theory in Design

David Herse, Product Manager Five Good Friends

How can we design products that bring real value to users? Why do users choose one product over another? How do some products manage to disrupt and innovate while others stay stagnate? The answer lies in the ‘job’ a user is hiring a product to do. This is called Jobs To Be Done Theory.

Jobs To Be Done Theory is centred around a clear understanding of a customers’ struggle and the progress they seek in a given circumstance. A well-defined job offers a kind of innovation blueprint. To create products of real user value, designers need to fundamentally understand the reasons an individual chooses to pull a product into their lives. This talk discusses how to uncover a users ‘job’ and apply it to the design process.

12:45 pm



We've always got something special lined up for lunch. But you'll have to come to find out,

1:45 pm

Collaboration and Scale

Ben Barone-Nugent & Jamie Kimmel Content Strategy, UX Facebook

Making products that work in multiple languages isn't just about words. It's also about understanding users and their communities — and your collaborators.

Facebook places a careful emphasis on building collaborative relationships that help us serve billions of users. We'll look at how we think about design relationships, how they result in products that scale globally.

2:35 pm

Should I really bother learning to code?

Diana MacDonald, Product Designer Culture Amp

This talk will look at what you can achieve with a little bit—not a lot!—of code.With a brief look at how code in my design process has challenged my assumptions, improved accessibility, and helped me communicate with engineers. Beyond that, you'll see how to get real value of out coding skills without ever shipping production code or becoming a unicorn.

3:00 pm

The art of mindfulness in product design

Remya Ramesh, Head of Design OpenCities

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing. In recent years it’s become an increasingly popular topic and moved from its deep roots in the Buddhist tradition into leadership circles, boardrooms and even primary school classrooms. But behind the hype, there’s real, tangible value - it helps you build better products by engaging in active observation, mindful listening, and conscious collaboration.

This talk will explore the concept of mindfulness and how you can apply it in the ideation, research and design phases of product development. After this session, you’ll walk away with strategies to effectively use mindfulness techniques like present-moment attention and non-judgemental awareness to transform the way you run your next user research or design critique session.

3:25 pm

Why a poker-playing AI should have designers looking for a new job

Cory-Ann Joseph, UX Lead ANZ

A 2013 report called 'The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?' left some occupations like soccer umpires feeling very vulnerable, and designers feeling very smug. However as a weird mix of content strategist, UX designer and former poker player my smug job-secure world was thrown upside down by the success of the Libratus poker AI in January of this year - the first to comprehensively beat multiple poker professionals over a series of four days.

If you’re wondering what poker has to do with design - the answer is a lot! In this talk I’ll cover why the mix of probability, pattern-matching, human behaviour and context in poker strategy is a good model for design, how game theory in poker strategy might be used to ‘solve’ design (and possibly front-end dev!), where design AI efforts are at, and why we should stop treating AI like a digital butler and start imagining the tools of the future - even it if puts you out of a job.

3:45 pm

Afternoon Break


Need more coffee courtesy of Twilio? Or an increasingly hip tea? We've got you covered, plus a sweet afternoon pick-me-up.

4:15 pm

Designing for Voice: Alexa, Google Assistant, and beyond

Darla Sharp, Voice UX Designer Google

There are few places where design is less evident than when you use a voice user interface, like the Amazon Echo or the Google home. But as anyone who has used Alexa or the Google Assistant knows, it's painfully obvious when a voice based experience is not designed well. You go nowhere, fast. It's the equivalent of a 404 page, but somehow more personally frustrating.

As a former voice designer for Alexa, and a current voice designer for the Google Assistant, I would like to talk about the ins and outs of designing for an eyes-free experience. What is voice design? What does it look like? Why is it important? What happens when you do it well? And what happens when it's not designed at all.

5:00 pm

Happy Hour (and a half)


Share a drink, a bite, and a chat with your peers, right here at the venue.

7:30 pm

Speaker Dinner


Gold ticket holders join our speakers for fine food and conversation five minutes walk away.

Day 2

  • Melbourne: April 13th
8:30 am

Heart Starting


Get your heart started for another day of amazingness, with coffee courtesy of Twilio

9:00 am

Welcome back

John Allsopp, Web Directions

9:15 am

Design Systems at Scale

Sarah Federman, Experience Designer Adobe

A design system can vastly improve your team's productivity, but most of all, it leads to better products! The challenge lies in creating a mature system and leading its adoption across the company successfully. Let's talk about how we learned to meet the needs of different designers and developers on different products, on different tech stacks. Attendees will go home with tips they can use to improve design systems of any stage.

10:15 am

Morning Break


10:45 am

Crafting Ethical AI Products and Services–a UX Guide

Hilary Cinis, UX Group Leader Data61

Computer Scientists, software engineers and academics are currently carrying the load of responsibility for the ethical implications of AI (specifically Machine Learning) in application. As a result, AI is inferred as having its own agency. This emerging separation of technology from people is alarming, considering it is people who are making it and using to inform important decisions. This work belongs to a wider group – namely development teams and their parent organisations and key to moving forward to a positive future is having cross discipline teams making this tech, mindful ethical approaches and clear methods of communicating this process ongoing with teams, customers, clients and society.

This talk is aimed at designers and product managers and proposes an ethical framework in discovery and solutions. We look at where UX can fit in via the application of existing methods, the relationships between people including how to anticipate the power relationships and finally proposed approaches to solution design to foster trust, control and reduce the mystery of machine learning systems. A robust list of references further reading will also be provided.

11:35 am

It's time to design for trust

Nathan Kinch, Partner Greater Than Experience

Consumer trust is at an all time low. Questionable data practices, outdated business models and zero-sum experiences have made this so. But who is responsible for closing the gap? My experience has led me to believe it's largely the responsibility of designers.

To give designers a toolkit to make this a repeatable process, I worked together with Data Transparency Lab to develop practical plays and a take to work playbook. In this talk I'll guide the audience through the 3 plays they must make to close the data trust gap and make the trustworthiness of their experiences a sustainable competitive advantage.

12:00 pm

Beyond words: using content strategy for better UX

Sally Bagshaw, Founder Snappy Sentences

We know an important part of creating a great user experience is getting the right information to the right person, at the right time. And a clear content strategy provides the framework to make this happen. But did you know that content strategy can help with more than words? It can embed empathy into your service, architect content systems that will deliver the experience you design and build robust teams with the right skills to sustain digital products.

In this session, Sally will share some practical advice about other ways a content strategist can help with your projects, plus give you tips on incorporating content strategy into your own UX toolkit.

12:25 pm

Illustrating Balanced and Inclusive Teams

Sara VanSlyke & Trace Byrd Designers Atlassian

The influence of brands on society can’t be underestimated. The technology industry in particular is extremely unbalanced when it comes to diversity, and there is little doubt that a lack of representation in tech brands plays a role — if people don't see themselves represented in tech branding, it’s unlikely they’d consider tech a welcoming place to work.

As a member of the technology community, Atlassian realized its responsibility to depict a more diverse and inclusive vision of collaboration. The Creative Team addressed this opportunity in a number of ways as part of a major brand refresh and found that illustration could be an especially powerful tool to support their effort.

In this session, Sara and Trace from Atlassian, discuss their journey towards creating an illustration system that reflects more inclusive teamwork. They will share some of the challenges they’ve encountered in building a representative brand and lessons they’ve learned along the way.

12:45 pm



Like everything else we do, expect the best conference food you'll have anywhere, and plenty of it.

1:45 pm

Putting Research In Its Place

Leisa Reichelt, Head of Research and Insights Atlassian

These days we are spending less time fighting about whether or not our companies need to do user research, but we're still far from settled on who should be doing the research and where they should be in the organisation. Should designers and product managers do all the research themselves or do you need a specialist team? Should research be embedded in product teams, or would a centralised team work better. And what is the right ratio of researchers to designers and developers? Well, it depends... just kidding. This talk is full of strong opinions.

2:35 pm

Evolving an organisation's culture through design

Lucie Paterson, Product Manager ACMI

I’ll show you how a small team can have high impact and transform products and services into experiences our visitors expect and love us for. Drawing on examples across user experience design, service design and customer experience design I’ll illustrate how while developing products we are gradually changing the culture of the organisation into one that is constantly evolving through risk taking, experimenting and working at pace.

3:00 pm

Doing Good (Design) in Government

Kate Conrick, Service & Experience Designer Oakton

It can often be difficult to see what true transformation of government or public services really looks like and it can be very challenging to make a change, and see the impact you're making on people's lives. But it's worth it. I'm here to talk about what we can do, and how we can make real change - even with the machinery of government sometimes acting against us.

3:25 pm

Outsourcing design. The good, bad and ugly

Chris Stonestreet, User Experience Manager NIB Health Care

Outsourcing is a behaviour we’re all familiar with, we outsource our manufacturing, textiles and even food production but our attitude toward this paints a different story. As organisations start to or already see the value in design and investment is spent to grow internal design teams. There’s always the challenge of not enough troops on the ground to cover all the work.

There can be benefits to outsourcing design work but these do not out weight the risks.

3:45 pm

Afternoon Break


Need more coffee? Twilio has got you covered, plus an awesome surprise sweet afternoon treat.

4:15 pm

Design for the long term

Andy Polaine, Regional Design Director APAC Fjord

Move fast and break things, sprint, be lean, be agile, ship, iterate. These are the mantras of our digital design world and they have jettisoned us out of the fossilised age of hierarchical edifices and waterfall management. But they have come at the cost of long-term thinking and deep reflection. Rapid iteration and half-broken MVPs are fine for First World problems, but a different kind of lens is critical digital when these platforms and services are woven into the fabric of society.

Many of the essential services in our lives – finance, mobility, communications, healthcare, welfare – are services that existed long before any of us were born. They will be around long after we retire and well beyond our lifetimes. Designing them requires care and humility. In this talk Andy draws upon the fields of space exploration, landscape gardening and architecture to argue the case for thinking long and why this should be part of every designer’s mindset.

4:50 pm


John Allsopp,

What is Design?

Australia's complete digital design conference

Great design is no longer a nice to have for successful digital products, services and customer experiences. It's vitally important. Design brings world leading experts across the design spectrum to share their insights and expertise. If you are involved with the design of digital product or services, you can't afford to miss this one-of-a-kind Australian event. Only in Melbourne, arguably Australia's Design capital.

Register Now

Praise for past Web Directions events

Phil Whitehouse
Web Directions is the must-attend event of the year for anyone serious about web development.

Phil Whitehouse,
Innovation Lead DigitasLBi

Ethan Marcotte
I’ve been admiring the Web Directions events for years, and was honored to be part… What a fantastic event!

Ethan Marcotte,
inventor "responsive Web design"

Dave Greiner
Out of any conference, Web Directions is far and away our favourite

Dave Greiner,
founder Campaign Monitor

About Us

Co-founded and now run by John Allsopp, Web Directions has for nearly 20 years brought together leading developers, engineers, visual, IxD, UX and product designers, Art and Creative Directors, product managers indeed everyone involved in producing web and digital products to learn from one another, and the World's leading experts across this vast field.

We spend our lives thinking about what comes next, keeping up with trends in technology, practices and processes, and filtering the hype, to make sure you don't miss trends that matter, and don't waste time on hype that doesn't.

We promise attending one of our events will leave you significantly better versed in the challenges you face day to day, and in solutions for addressing them.

vignettes from our events, social, speakers and more. Includes Hannah Donovan skylarking.

John Allsopp

John Allsopp has been working on the Web for nearly 30 years. He's been responsible for innovative developer tools such as Style Master, X-Ray and many more. He's spoken at numerous conferences around the World and delivered dozens of workshops in that time as well.

His writing includes two books, including Developing With Web Standards and countless articles and tutorials in print and online publications.

His "A Dao of Web Design" published in 2000 is cited by Ethan Marcotte as a key influence in the development of Responsive Web Design, who's acclaimed article in 2010 begins by quoting John in detail, and by Jeremy Keith as "a manifesto for anyone working on the Web".

Code of Conduct

For over a decade, we've worked hard to create inclusive, fun, inspring and safe events for the Web Industry.

As part of our commitment to these values, we've adopted a code of conduct for all involved: ourselves, our speakers, our partners and our audience.

If you have any concern or feedback, please don't hesitate to contact us.