Web Directions Conferences for web and digital professionals

Design at Web Directions Summit ’19

Originally, the design track at Web Directions focussed on web design, with a fairly large code component, particularly CSS. But it’s changed profoundly since then.

Over the last 15 years it’s evolved, just as has design in our industry–initially with an increased focus on UX and Interaction Design. And more recently still, as the industry has seen design operationalised, with the emergence of design systems and designOps, alongside the ever-increasing place of research in design, and the rise of product design, our design track has continued to evolve to reflect these developments.

This year at Web Directions Summit it’s no different, with a design track encompassing over a dozen presentations across the two days, as well as 3 of our 4 keynotes having a strong design flavour.

No other design focussed event in Australia has the breadth and depth of our Design track–so, let’s dive a little more deeply into design at Summit ’19.


Summit opens with Gretchen Anderson, Designing smart things: Balancing ethics and choice. ‘Intelligence’ is increasingly embedded in so much of what we design, and so much of our lives. But this comes with significant new responsibilities and challenges that we’re increasingly waking up to. Gretchen opens the conference, addressing perhaps the most significant design challenge of our time.

We’ve always looked for design inspiration from far beyond the web at Web Directions, and this year it is an honour to have Nina Walia, Experience Design Lead at Google Hardware, who has extensive experience at the intersection of fashion and interaction design. At Summit she’ll be presenting Responsive (clothing) Design, and what she’s learned from designing interactive garments.

And to close the conference, Aaron Z. Lewis, a digital product designer who worked on the Hilary ’16 Campaign, at Uber and elsewhere, and now researches and writes about memetic warfare, preventing online radicalization, and cultivating compassionate communities (IRL and URL) will share his thoughts on the state of the Web in 2019, and what we as designers can do to improve it in Metaphors we believe by: the pantheon of 2019.

The Design Track

A central aspect of all the programs across all our events is curation–we work extremely hard to bring together an array of speakers and topics of relevance and value to our audience. Some speakers are invited experts, others are selected from our call for presentations, but all bring, and share deep experience and thinking about their area of expertise. Rather than a random assortment of topics, we strive to bring together related presentations to explore more deeply key points of focus for our audiences right now. Let’s take a deeper look.

The Operationalisation of Design–Design Systems, Design Culture, and more

As design teams grow, and the value of design is appreciated by more and more organisations, and the practice of design matures, we’re seeing a recognition that the replicability of design is a central concern of design teams. Our design track has for a number of years paid attention to this aspect of design, and 2019 is no exception.

We have an entire session dedicated to Design Systems, with Alexandra Skougarevskaya, Design Manager for Atlassian’s design system, and Sarah Federman, now at Atlassian, who’s worked extensively on massive design systems at the likes of Adobe, who’ll focus on what comes next once you’ve established a design system. How to keep it alive, relevant, widely adopted and funded.

To close this session, Alex and Sarah will be joined by Inayaili de León, a senior designer at Microsoft, on the Azure Design Systems team, for an extended QA session on design systems.

But scaling design is not simply about design systems. Inayaili de León will consider Humans vs Design at Scale, and how you can make sure you are looking after your humans in the process of organizing, automating, and systematizing our teams.

Alongside Yaili, Aaron Tan will look at how investing in design culture will help an organisation achieve greatness.

We’ll also look at how design research is being operationalised, with Benson Low and Brigette Metzler taking a look at the emerging field of ResearchOps, and the value it can bring to your work and organisation.

Design–Much more than just systems and scale

Of course design is much more than just operations and scale. As always bring you ideas, patterns and practices to improve your design practice.

Security and Trust

From the financial sector, to the largest social media platforms, across so many industries and sectors, trust has taken a hammering. Katja Forbes will explores how we can design for trust in the things that we can’t see.

Closely related to trust is security. Something we see breached every day. We typically think of security as a technical problem with technical solutions, but as with so much else, it is in any ways a design problem. Serena Chan will consider how good user experience design is necessary for good security. We can craft paths of least resistance that match paths of most security. We can educate our users on what is good practice and what is security theater. We can build secure flows that are usable, not obstructive or annoying.

And much more more

There’s still much more where this came from as well.

Kevin Wilkins brings us ‘Rock Star Research’. Usually at Web Directions we avoid terms like “Rock Star” and “Ninja”, but Kevin has earned her moniker, as the winner of several ARIA awards including for the cover design of Powder Finger’s iconic Odyssey Number 5 album. Kevin will look at how you can challenge predictable research processes to unearth invaluable insights in unusual situations.

Industry legend Shane Morris helps us bring personas to life, with Story-based design. Design stories, or scenarios, are ‘day in the life’ descriptions of how your new product will fit into the lives of your users and customers. They help crystallise and communicate your product vision and capture key design constraints in ways that personas can’t.

And there’s a whole session of presentations focussing on emerging practices and opportunities. Larissa Azevedo brings Design, Product and Data Scientist together to design intelligent products. Amy Cleary explores the Principles of Conversation-led UI. Sheree Hannah delves into the often rushed or neglected step of utilising user insights alongside creative thinking, while Oliver Maruda will look at how Qantas redesigned their call centre, having real conversations with their customers utilizing AI while handing over to humans when appropriate.

If you work in the design of digital products and services, I hope you’ll agree that our design track will be of unparalleled value to you. And also make sure you take a look at the sessions in our product track, as many of these will be of significant value for product designers. Worried you’ll miss out on a session as there’s just so much great content? No need, videos every session are available to Silver ticket holders–you’ll get access to nearly 4 dozen sessions in total, as well as hundreds of videos from past design, product and engineering conferences.

We make events for the professionals shaping the digital future

Learn more about us

Thoroughly enjoyed Web Directions — met some great people, heard some inspiring presenters and added a whole bunch of things to my to-do list.

Joel Roberts Web Developer

Join us in 2019:

  • Web Directions Code://remote 2020

    A global remote-only conference for JavaScript Developers and Front End Engineers.

    Exclusively Online September 2020

  • Web Directions Product://Remote Design & Management 2020

    A global remote-only conference–product design and product management.

    Exclusively Online November 2020

  • Web Directions Summit 2020

    A conference for the whole digital team–featuring product, design, front-end dev, and new people/talent/culture tracks.

    Sydney Late 2020, Early 2021