Note from 2020 me: The original New Adventures was very significant. For me, and for the industry. Simon struck a chord with that conference, the timing was perfect, the content superbly well judged. It is still the best conference I have ever been to.

I’ve been struggling to think of a succinct way of summing up how I feel about the New Adventures in Web Design conference (naconf). There was a huge amount to take in, and I’m struggling to convey my thoughts very well. I’ve already scrapped 500+ words.

Overall I keep coming back to the same phrase – it all felt very grown up.

Not so much in the sense that all the attendees were puffing pipes and wearing slippers, while discussing politics over a glass of port and a fine stilton (surely the true mark of adulthood). I mean in the sense that it felt like our industry has finally got past it’s pubescence and is busy finding it’s own voice in the real world.

Simon managed to curate an event that didn’t just talk about the how-and-now of the web world. The topics were resolutely high level. They were designed to get us thinking more about why we decide to do things. To think about the future, about how our industry is perceived, about abstract concepts such as pacing, about thinking of the web as a medium without borders.

Not once was there a piece of code on screen. Not once did any of the speakers preach about how we should be doing things, or not doing other things. Well, OK, at the very least they encouraged us to strongly consider why we were adding gradients and textures to that button.

In that sense attendees were very much treated as a hall full of fellow professionals, people on the same level as the speakers. There was an overwhelmingly gratifying feeling of assumed knowledge, and I absolutely loved that. Not having everything thought out for us, leaving us with things to take away and ponder – that is exactly what I want from these sorts of events.

This was a conference that was comfortable enough in it’s own skin to forget about the technicalities of the industry, to not get hung up about how fast things move forward, to not worry about explaining absolutely everything.

So to my mind it felt like a very grown up conference. More importantly it felt like an event where the industry as a whole suddenly realised it had started to grow hair in funny places.

Well done Simon and all those involved.