Year round learning for web and digital professionals


This year’s Web Directions Breakfast, an optional extra on the morning of the 28th of September will be hosted by co-creator of CSS and genuine web innovator, Bert Bos of the W3C.

  • Think like a mountain

    Andy Clarke

    Once seen as unsophisticated, childish and of low artistic value, comic-book art and culture has inspired artists and designers for generations and are now are often untapped resource for web design inspiration. In this session, designer and author of Transcending CSS, Andy Clarke will examine comic book layout, conventions and colour in the context of making inspirational designs for today’s web.

  • Making useful things no one knew they needed: building ethnography into the design process.

    Stephen Cox

    Working in usability and user experience can give you some great insights into the product design process. Yet few organisations know how to take advantage of this information silo. As a user experience expert do you sometimes wish you could have more input into product ideas handed down from above? Ever wanted to have the ear of business strategists? Even be best friends with marketers and sales people?

    Stephen Cox explores some of the exciting things that can happen when the disciplines of usability and user experience are allowed to seep out into the realms of strategic and tactical design innovation. He approaches the field of ethnographic design research in practical terms illustrating how News Digital Media has come to embrace the idea of extensive customer research, and the benefits that this has brought to different levels of the organisation.

    You’ll see real world examples of what the team has achieved and learn how to connect some of the more esoteric and theoretical findings of research with tangible real world design solutions.

  • Web 2.0 + Mobile 2.0 = ?

    Brian Fling

    Web 2.0 redefined how we look at websites. Mobile 2.0 is redefining how we look at mobile. What happens when you add these two seemingly separate worlds together? Is it the mash-up of all time, or something different altogether? Will it create an unholy union or can the merger of these two principles redefine how we look at information?

    In this session we will explore what Web 2.0 and Mobile 2.0 mean and what happens when they come together. We’ll discover what we can learn from both and apply it to the work we create today.

  • Pushing beyond design

    Justin French

    You’re a great web designer. You craft beautiful interfaces, you’ve nailed standards based design, and you’re at the top of your game. So now what? Based on real world experiences, this presentation encourages you, the modern web designer, to ignore the title on your business card and to start thinking about your real role in the development process – what you have to offer, what your team really needs, and what you could do to dramatically increase your value on a daily basis.

  • Usability: more than skin deep

    Lisa Herrod

    Web Usability is far more complex than User Testing and Interaction Design alone. And while interface design is an important consideration, there’s more to a usable site than what’s on the surface.

    We all know the importance of accessibility and web standards, so let’s take that knowledge one step further and into the realm of usability. In this session Lisa Herrod will redefine the common definition of usability by introducing a greater focus on accessibility and web standards. By taking a more holistic approach you will soon see why usability is more than skin deep.

  • User experience in online communities

    George Oates

    If there’s one thing about Web 2.0, it’s that we’re realising that there are actually people using the internet. It’s no longer about Human to Computer interaction, but rather Human to Human. Discover some of the user experience ideas and strategies behind the design of, one of the richest Human to Human places on the web today.

  • Social networks and mobiles

    Laurel Papworth

    It’s not just about email and Twitter: industry analysts agree, virtually every online social network application will develop a mobile feature in the next year or two. From Flickr pre-installed on Nokia phones to an up-to-date map of your buddies locations, mobile devices are ready to come pre-loaded with new friends for you to play with. Before you tune out to listen to music tagged and delivered to your mobile by your social network, or press SEND on a stinging critique of the Web Directions dining hall food to restaurant review mobile sites, why not attend an informative yet fun session about the latest and greatest in GPS and location based services connecting online communities on your mobile? For those who want to focus on the business model not the technology.

  • The perils of popularity

    Rashmi Sinha

    Can web-based social systems with their wide reach, user-generated and user-filtered content harness the wisdom of crowds? Duncan Watts’ recent experiments reveal how popularity based web social systems can throw up fickle, random trends that are essentially unreplicable, and only tangentially related to quality. However, popularity as a way to filter information continues to rise in popularity – replacing hierarchical menus, overtaking tags, and even used in lieu of relevance. Rashmi will link decades of psychology research on group decision making and social influence to what is happening on the web today. She will discuss different models of popularity based filtering such as Digg and YouTube. What are ways to avoid the Watts dilemma – including Google’s model of sociality, tag-based social systems, and object-based social networks. She will present some principles for the design of web social systems and how there were used in the design of SlideShare and discuss how SlideShare as an evolving social system handles popularity.

  • The future of web based interfaces

    Cameron Adams

    Ajax brought about a host of new possibilities in online interfaces, but where are we going next? Cameron Adams will look at the evolution of dynamic interfaces; interfaces that truly meet the needs of all their users. Through the careful use of Web Standards, client-side scripting, and server-side intelligence, it’s possible to create interfaces that shape, adapt to, and predict a user’s needs.

    Cameron will also be examining how the emergence of browser-based technologies such as Canvas and SVG will change the way we think about interaction on the Web.

  • Trends and predictions in web technology

    John Allsopp

    Web designers and developers are a very practical bunch, often too busy with today’s challenges and workloads to find time to keep up with developments over the horizon. In this session John Allsopp looks at what trends that are important for web designers and developers and innovators generally – what future versions of browsers have in store, what devices people will be using to access the web, and more. A perfect complement to Bert Bos’s focus on coming web standard technologies.

  • A new life for old standards – revisions to HTML, CSS and others

    Bert Bos

    CSS level 2 became a standard in 1998. The last revision of HTML4 dates from 1999. That’s long time ago in Web years, but they aren’t forgotten: after several years of work, CSS is close to a revision and browser support is better than ever. It’s necessary, because CSS needs to grow: vertical text, columns, print support, complex layouts and much more is increasingly demanded. Likewise, there is a big effort to revise HTML. Interest is so high, the W3C is trying a new process, to let more people participate in the editing work. There are also new forms, standards for combining SVG and HTML and new work on the security of forms. Bert’s here to tell us: we haven’t seen the end of the Web page yet.

  • Javascript and other coding for good or evil

    Andrew Downie and Grant Focas

    When Version 2 of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is finally released, the status of Javascript will be quite different to that assigned to it in Version 1.0 back in 1999. Back then, Javascript was to “degrade gracefully”. Currently AJAX offers increased usability for visual users, but may detract from accessibility. In future, use of JavaScript will be encouraged but, of course, must enhance rather than detract from accessibility.

    During this presentation, Andrew and Grant will demonstrate how Javascript, when implemented well, offers enhanced accessibility. By way of balance, they will also present examples of scripting that causes problems. Importantly, they will provide corrections to the errant coding.

    In these days of web-based multimedia extravaganzas, participants will also have the opportunity to experience some of the very helpful things that can be achieved with Flash, including screen reader accessibility. One of the issues to be covered is embedding of Flash into IE following the EOLAS versus Microsoft case – Javascript to the rescue.

    Andrew and Grant will also showcase the potential of AutoHotkey, a free scripting language for Windows as an accessibility tool. While scripts can be written to meet a wide variety of needs in various circumstances, we will concentrate on one which provides fast and accurate coding for web pages.

  • AJAX or Flash: what’s right for you?

    Jonathan Boutelle

    The web is finally moving beyond simple html. How can you make rich web-based user experiences that don’t surprise or aggravate your users? When should you use AJAX, when should you use Flash, and when should you mix the two? What are the opportunities and pitfalls when creating richer web interfaces? In this talk, Jonathan will argue that Flash and AJAX are complementary tools in the web developers’ toolbox, and that building effective web experiences often requires a blending of the two technologies.

  • Learning to love forms

    Aaron Gustafson

    Forms. We all have to make ’em, but few of us love ’em. Aaron Gustafson believes that this is because we don’t understand them. In this session, we will explore forms from top to bottom, examining how they work and how their components can be incorporated with other elements to maximize accessibility, improve semantics, and allow for more flexible styling. You’ll get to see the complete picture with forms, including error, warning and formatting messages, styling and its implications, as well as best practices for manipulation with Javascript and Ajax.

  • Being smart about your data

    Adrian Holovaty

    The Web is full of information that is presented inefficiently – both for
    machines and for humans. Adrian Holovaty shares philosophies and strategies
    for efficient data collection and information design, drawing from his
    experiences at data-heavy news sites (, and side projects such as

  • What’s under the hood? Which open source tools are fuelling today’s leading websites

    Paul McCarthy

    Many of the today’s leading and most innovative websites are now running or developed using open source software and tools. This talk aims to provide an insiders look at the growing array of open source software driving today’s leading websites.

    What is open source software and how can I use it to improve our website design, development and management effort? What open source tools are today’s leading website designers and publishers already using? What’s popular now? What’s emerging? This talk takes you under the hood of some the world’s leading websites to see what makes them tick. And what open source software, tools and platforms they’re using to deliver better online services.

  • RedBubble: Building a site for people with big imaginations

    Mark Mansour

    RedBubble is a social networking platform and marketplace, not to mention a successful homegrown web app. In this session RedBubble’s software architect Mark Mansour will present the challenges the team has faced, and talk through some of the solutions they’ve discovered, during the building and scaling one of Australia’s largest Rails applications.

    Along the way you’ll learn RedBubble’s tenets for software design, the what’s and how’s of their database and web servers, plus processes that made their team more effective. If you’re a developer dreaming of going out on your own and building a successful online business around a web app, don’t miss this session.

  • Mashups, web apps and APIs

    Raul Vera

    Hear all about the exciting possibilities created by these technologies from Google Australia.

  • Moving the web forward

    Chris Wilson

    In this keynote, Chris Wilson examines the state of the web, some of the problems facing browsers (as platform Architect of the Internet Explorer browser) and standards (as co-chair of the HTML Working Group) and explores what we need to do together to move the web forward.

  • Mob rules

    Mark Pesce

    Closing keynote

    Sometime shortly after Web Directions South concludes, somebody (probably a somebody in the “developing” world) will become the three billionth mobile phone subscriber. Good for the providers, of course – but the effects of the network on human social organization are far more profound. From the dhows of Kerala to the cities of China to the beaches of Cronulla, we’re all coming into contact with – and learning how to master – the subtle skills of spontaneous self-organization which are the essential fact of life on the network. We can get in front of this spree of self-organization – or get run over by it. Either way, mob rules are the new laws of business, politics, and culture.

  • Wikis and community collaboration

    Angela Beesley

    Wikipedia has brought the concept of a wiki to many people’s attention and now Wikia is aiming to broaden that concept. If you think of Wikipedia as the encyclopedia, then Wikia is the rest of the library. Wikia hosts 3000 openly editable wikis that are built up by communities of fans who are passionate on topics that range from solar cooking to Neopets.

    In this session, Angela Beesley will explain how Wikia is not only hosting but actively developing wikis and creating hundreds of thriving communities. The methods and processes that have led Wikipedia to be the world’s largest encyclopedia can be adopted for any type of wiki use, including educational and business communities. Using examples from successful online wiki communities, Angela will explain how to enable a wiki community to manage itself, and how to minimise the common problems that wikis have, including ways to deal with unhelpful or unreliable information, lack of adoption of a wiki, and the problems of malicious edits on open wikis.

  • The myths of innovation

    Scott Berkun

    Much of what we know about innovation is wrong. That’s
    the bet this entertaining keynote takes as it romps through the history of
    innovation, dispelling the mythologies we’ve constructed about how we got
    here. This talk, loosely based on Scott Berkun’s recent O’Reilly book (May 2007), will help you to recognize the myths, understand their popularity (even if you don’t believe in them), and how to use the truth of innovations past to help you in your work today.

  • Organisational wiki adoption

    Mike Cannon-Brookes

    Wikis are the buzzword-du-jour but practical on the ground experience can be hard to come by for those working within organisations. How are enterprises using them? What’s the best way to get one adopted? What should a wiki not be used for? Pragmatic enterprise wiki adoption lessons and experiences.

  • Wig meets Web (2.0): harnessing the law to commercialise and protect your IP

    Scott Buchanan and Ben Maguire

    Innovation and development in web 2.0 moves ever faster, the law as slow as always. So how can you best harness the law in commercializing and protecting your intellectual property? Scott tackles some of the thorny issues web content creators face in commercializing and protecting the IP in their content and ventures into the controversial territory of accessing the creative power of customers through user-generated content. Ben draws on his experience advising Virgin companies in a range of industries and countries to explore the practical issues facing businesses trying to protect their IP. He also looks at some of the dilemmas – and possible solutions – for businesses using user-generated content. Both promise not to wear a tie.

  • Social media and Government 2.0

    Sebastian Chan

    More than ever before there is an enormous amount of publicly held data about our community, our culture, and citizens. How can government respond to the opportunities of Web 2.0? How can government websites and databases become more citizen-centric, and more responsive by leveraging social media?

    In 2006 the Powerhouse Musuem, a NSW State Government institiution, opened its core information asset – its collection and research database – to public tagging, and dynamic user-driven recommendations. In the same year the Museum launched a range of public-facing blogs, inviting comment from visitors and audiences. Sebastian Chan will discuss why the museum has made these very successful forays into social media, and how a small in-house web development unit was able to push through and launch a project which is counted among Australia’s top web 2.0 applications. If you work in a large organisation and have dreams of social media, do not miss this session.

  • Is SEO evil?

    Scott Gledhill

    There can be a feeling in the web development community that “SEO is evil” – Scott Gledhill cuts through the hype to focus on how developing accessible, standards compliant websites is the first step in creating search engine friendly websites – and also talks about what is being done in the industry to make websites more findable, sometimes at the cost of making them less usable.

    SEO is big business and it’s attracting a whole new breed of web practitioners into our industry. Learn the advantages that we have as web standards developers when it comes to the practice of search engine optimisation, as well as some of the disadvantages, and how to overcome them.

    We will discuss how to handle overzealous search engine marketers, how to find your way through the hype and buzzwords of the industry and, most importantly, how not to compromise your websites’ integrity, best practice development and usability when being confronted by SEO.

  • E is for everywhere: mobile content, services and commerce strategies in Australia

    Rob Manson and Alex Young

    In 1998 the American Dialect Society voted “e-” (as in electronic) as the “word of the year”. This signified how important the internet had become in our world. Almost 10 years later we’re undergoing an even larger change. Only this time the “e-” prefix stands for “everywhere”.

    Mobile content, services and commerce are changing the way we communicate, work and do business. And these changes are building upon the already massive revolutions brought about by the internet – only faster and made more pervasive. This presentation will look at the strategic issues facing managers and developers as they strive to adapt to this literally “moving” target.

    The session will be highly interactive in nature so make sure you bring your mobile device!

  • Managing agile projects within large organisations

    Ben Winter-Giles

    So you work at enterprise level. Lots of stake holders, lots of competition for time, need to deliver to multiple demands that…POP up. All projects incur change over time, that’s the way of the world. Using a benefits driven approach to delivery rather than a process driven or methodology governed approach frees the team to think laterally, and be responsive to client demands.

    Agility is more than a project management approach, it’s a way of operation and culture that enables and manages rather than constrains change. Ben will unpick how a fluid agile team can be established and run within a constrained environment, AND deliver quality responsive services to a large organisation.

    Ben will present real world case studies and examples of how he has used agility cultured teams to deliver creative solutions to complex problems, without burning out the fun in our work. He will also demonstrate techniques on rapid modeling which can save you hours of labor over low yield tasks. All of which will give you the freedom to work more creatively and dynamically while meeting the highly regimented needs of your enterprise or Government clients.

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

Ethan Marcotte Inventor of 'Responsive Web Design'