Web Directions Design 2019

MelbourneApril 11 & 12 2019

Australia's Product Design Conference. Only in Melbourne, returns April 2019.

Day 1

  • Melbourne: April 11th
8:00 am



Grab an excellent barista coffee, while you register for two big days of product design goodness.

9:00 am


John Allsopp, Web Directions

9:15 am

Crafting a Creative Culture

Jeff Veen, Design Partner True Ventures

We have arrived in an age of design. No longer relegated to a function of the marketing department or tacked on to an engineering process, designers are increasingly taking leadership positions in the top companies in tech.

But how do we manage creative teams to achieve their full potential? Jeff will share stories from my years of leading product development — both successful and not — to show that investing in culture might be the best competitive edge you can gain.

10:15 am

Morning Break


Fuel your morning with an excellent coffee, and morning tea we've specially chosen to pick-you-up.

10:45 am

Design Systems & Creativity

Jina Anne, Design Systems Pioneer

A common misconception about Design Systems is that they prohibit designers from being creative. This is far from the truth. Jina Anne, a design systems practitioner and advocate, will share her thoughts and ideas on using design systems to empower and strengthen your creativity while still keeping its goals of scale, maintainability, and efficiency at heart.

11:35 am

Keeping your living design system alive

Dominik Wilkowski, People Director Thinkmill

Over the last 5 or 6 years design systems have moved from exotic to common place. But now you have a design system, how do you keep it alive, and hopefully flourishing?

Your Design system itself is only one small part of that. It needs a community around it. A collaboration model. You need to track its success. And documentation, lots of documentation. And a good deal more besides.

Dominik Wilkowski has been involved in bringing several large scale design systems to life, and seen what it takes for them to survive and thrive (and the things that can harm them or worse).

In this session he'll draw on those years of experience to help you ensure your design system prospers.

12:20 pm

Design Systems Q&A

Jina Anne & Dominik Wlkowski,

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

Everything but the execution

Paul André, Research Lead Facebook

The difference between good or great design and research (or mid- to senior-level) often isn’t the execution of the work itself, but what you do before and after it. We'll focus on a few strategies and processes to elevate work, the product, and strategy, from opinionated product thinking to a framework for creating, executing, and landing projects.

2:35 pm

Art vs Science: UX research in the age of the reproducibility crisis

Laura Summers, Design Consultant Summerscope

In tech in recent years, it feels a bit like everybody and their dog has hopped on the 'scientific method' bandwagon. Design Thinking, Agile and UX Research methodologies are all modeled on this approach. But science itself is in the grips of an existential crisis, as embodied by a series of failed attempts to reproduce existing research. (See 'The Reproducibility Project' for context). Against this backdrop, it's a prescient time to ask the question: should UX Research be reproducible?

3:00 pm

Measurable Design

Simon Knox, UI Engineer Gitlab

Faster is better. That much is obvious. How much better? That we can find out. For people preoccupied with performance, numbers can tell a clear story. But how can you determine success for design changes? "It just looks right" isn't going to be enough.

You can't embetter what you cannot measure. So let's look at how to make design measurable. Which metrics matter, and which can be ignored. A better looking hamburger won't improve your navigation, but there might still valid reasons to change it.

3:25 pm

Your subject matter expert is wrong

Sam Hancock, the Lead UX Designer Servian

Many industries operate on complex and idiosyncratic systems. As demand for better design grows, designers who may not have insight or understanding, are more and more likely to work on complex systems used by a small number of experts.

As designers, we are never the experts. The ability to leverage a SMEs insight and knowledge is invaluable. However, challenging the norm and popular opinion should be encouraged in order to obtain the best results.

  • Putting ALL of your trust in a SME is a dangerous precedent to set.
  • Sticking to your guns with a set of design methodologies in support can build your way to success
3:45 pm

Afternoon Break


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

4:15 pm

Dynamic Typography with Fluid Sizing and Variable Fonts

Jason Pamental, Design Strategist, Typographer

Newer developments in CSS make it easier than ever to create robust, scalable, elegant typographic systems on the web and in apps. But the fun really starts when you add Variable Fonts. The design, technical, and performance benefits are really exciting, but when you combine them with other CSS capabilities like custom properties, calculations, and grid it’s a whole new way to think about design and development.

We’ll see how they work together by using some variable fonts in layouts that work across screen dimensions, accessibility needs, design requirements, and even network speeds—better than you thought possible.

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 12th
8:30 am

Heart Starting


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

9:00 am

Welcome back

John Allsopp, Web Directions

9:15 am

Communicating Design

Donna Spencer, Lead Consultant Readify

Design is becoming fairly mainstream, a part of many projects, and frequently discussed in the business press. But still many people think it is all about making an interface look better. Why is this still happening?

Donna believes that there are many reasons this happens. One of the biggest contributors is the way designers use jargon. We also try to sell the idea of design instead of focusing on how it can be used to solve problems. And design really isn't one thing - it's a broad concept with a range of techniques and approaches.

She's in a new role where she has to teach her organisation what designers do, what problems they can help with and how they do it. And the organisation has to teach this to clients. So she's spent a lot of time working on how to make design concepts more concrete, less jargon-filled and ultimately more understandable.

10:15 am

Morning Break


10:45 am

Being Human in the Age of AI

Katja Forbes, Managing Director Designit (ANZ)

There’s no doubt we’ve entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a new era of intelligence-based technological change transforming the way we work, live and relate to each other as well as the companies we buy and engage with.

We can already see this through the wave of artificial intelligence-based technologies coming to the fore, impacting all aspects of engagement. Whether it’s servicing consumers through virtual assistants, for example, or pre-empting their choices and preferences through predictive analytics, AI is quickly pervading interactions and their outcomes. AI’s impact is also increasingly apparent via robotics and automated technologies creating a new type of organisation, shaking up ways we work and new forms of collaboration.

But even as we further embrace AI and the idea that machines will make increasingly autonomous decisions, what’s equally clear is how important the human element remains in the enterprise. Far from AI machines running the world, it’s organisations that harness both machines and human ingenuity that will be best positioned for success.

Katja Forbes will talk about how do we design for AI and also successfully balance the rise of the machine with human-centred values and intuition?

11:35 am

What to think about when designing maps: moving beyond generic and into amazing

Andrea Lau, Co-founder SmallMultiples

Maps are everywhere. They are familiar, factual, and useful. But they also need to be designed: not by a professional cartographer who doesn't work on the web but by a visual designer. A designer who wants to create beautifully formed experiences but who has limited skills in dealing with geospatial files and what's possible technically. How do you go beyond tracing boundaries over static images of maps to get the vectors you're looking for?

This talk goes through all the nitty gritty details you never thought you needed to know about designing maps from shapefiles and QGIS to symbology and basemaps. We hope you leave with a better sense of the endless possibilities of how maps can look and function and how your design expertise can shape those experiences.

12:00 pm

Designing recommendation systems

Diana MacDonald, Product Designer Culture Amp

At the heart of many products in the information age is 1 critical factor: relevance. A misguided recommendation can instantly shatter trust in your product. As a designer, how do you create a system to provide relevant information to your audience in the right place and at the right time? What is an ideal experience? In this talk, we'll look at data and design, building feedback into your system, and what you need to know about content and machine learning. We'll explore in depth case studies of designing recommendation systems and the role of "nudges" in changing behaviour and improving outcomes.

12:25 pm

Designing for Learning Difficulties

Chris Lienert, Software Development Lead IRESS

More than 1 in 20 people experience difficulty with reading and learning, and those difficulties don’t just end at school. We’ll go through some common learning difficulties including dyslexia and discuss what impact they have on designing for the web.

12:45 pm



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

1:45 pm

Designing Against Domestic Violence

Eva PenzeyMoog, Lead Designer 8th Light

The reality of domestic violence doesn’t disappear when people enter the digital world. Abusers use technology to exploit and control their victims, meaning that technologists have a responsibility to ensure that users of our products are empowered to protect their safety. How can we prevent people with violent intentions from forms of abuse and control that are digital, such as browsing a victim’s computer, finding sensitive information about them online, or creating fake content in their name?

How can our products that involve real people, such as software for building managers, protect against an abuser talking their way past a building’s doorman whose uses software to track approved guests? While there’s no simple answer and ultimately no way to ensure our users’ safety in all situations, thoughtful considerations and small changes while designing and building products can and does result in meaningful contributions to people’s safety. This talk will explore how to think through a lens of safety, create those thoughtful considerations, and advocate for an emphasis on safety.

2:35 pm

Abuse and Disinformation at Twitter: An Inside Story

Jon Bell, Design Lead Alphero

Citizens are in the middle of a global disinformation campaign. The attackers know all the legal loopholes, all the social engineering tricks, and all the blind spots they can exploit. Meanwhile, average citizens don’t understand how to protect themselves and just want software to be as simple as possible. It’s a recipe for disaster, which is what we got.

Jon Bell worked on Twitter’s Abuse team as the lead designer in 2016, and is haunted by his team’s inability to take the threat seriously and make significant progress towards addressing it. This talk is a behind-the-scenes look into all the complexity, the surprises, and the lessons learned on the front lines of one of the most challenging social and UX issues of our time.

3:25 pm

Designing Safety QA

Eva PenzeyMoog & Jon Bell,

3:45 pm

Afternoon Break


Need more coffee? We've got you covered, plus an awesome surprise sweet afternoon treat.

4:15 pm

Good to Great UI Animation

Pablo Stanley, Design Lead Invision

Let's learn practical tips to improve motion in user interfaces. We'll go over some principles, basic properties of what you can animate, how it can enhance or diminish the experience, and recommended tools to use.

4:50 pm


John Allsopp,

What is Design?

Australia's digital product 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 over a decade brought together leading developers, engineers, visual, IxD, UX and product designers, Art and Creative Directors, 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.

In 2019, we'll be organising Design, Design Leaders, Code and Code Leaders and Product in Melbourne, and Web Directions Summit, and Culture in Sydney

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

John Allsopp

John Allsopp has been working on the Web for over 20 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 rightly 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.