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Thoughts on the 2009 HOW Design Conference

Last week I was in Austin, TX. to present a few sessions at the annual HOW Design Conference. There were a few things that really knocked my socks off that are worth mentioning. First of all, the conference itself was perfectly run. I’ve been to plenty of conferences and the HOW people made running a conference look fun and effortless. Everything seemed to happen as and when it was intended to happen. I had heard this much about the HOW crew, so I wasn’t necessarily surprised but was still impressed nonetheless.

What did surprise me was the group of people attending the conference. In the middle of this economically difficult time about 2,000 designers of all ages, career stages, and locals came together in Austin. Now, I am not a designer, and I was a bit intimidated by having to present to a group of very hip designers that know their craft very well. I expected a crowd that was too cool for school, and I was dead wrong. The group at this conference was clearly there to learn, learn and learn as much as they possibly could. Both of my sessions (“Print to Web Breakthrough” and “Web Strategy that Works“) were attended by hundreds of smart, eager and focused people who took constant notes, asked insightful questions and seemed to preface everything with a smile. I couldn’t imagine a more engaged and good natured audience.

Lastly, Austin – dear lovely Austin. Perhaps the greatest success of the conference coordinators was their choice of city, hotels and facilities. I had never been to Austin, was a bit weary of the hype, and was pretty surprised to find a city that lived up to every word of it. Austin, I miss you!

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