The road to dConstruct 2008

Every summer the Clearleft office buzzes with the excitement in the lead-up to dConstruct, the web design conference we organise here in Brighton. Preparations are well under way for this year's event, which is on 5th September, with two days of exclusive workshops leading up to it. For the last few weeks I've been designing the new website, which was then lovingly built by Natalie. Being intimately familiar with the brand, I really enjoy designing the dConstruct site each year, but as an in-house project we never have as much time to devote to it as we'd like. The site is normally an evolution of previous years' designs rather than anything completely new, but this year I took the move to highlight the excellent list of speakers in huge type right there on the homepage. It's they who 'sell' the conference, so they really should take pride of place, and the treatment used is quite striking and bold.

For any typophiles reading this, the font for the main speakers list is Alte Haas Grotesk bold, a kind of distressed, slightly weathered-looking Helvetica Neue bold.

One thing I'm particularly fond of with this year's site, is that we're encouraging people to mash-up their own photos with the dConstruct buttons. I've made this really easy to do, and you don't even need to open Photoshop! Just insert the web address of one of your own photos into one of the code snippets provided towards the bottom of the buttons page, replacing Your photo will then slot itself neatly behind the conference info. You can see this in action at the top right of this page, where I've used a photo of Toby at the play park.

The theme of the conference this year is 'Designing the Social Web', so rather than go the predictable route of giving the site a 'social networking' feel (think Facebook, Flickr, Edenbee,, my idea was to extend the website beyond its boundaries into the social space elsewhere on the web. Our buttons are more socially inclusive, in that people could personalise them with photos of their friends or family, which they perhaps already share on social networking or photo sharing sites. The buttons can then be completely customised fit the design of any site. I can't wait to see a wide variety of visuals used on dConstruct buttons across the web!

If you do use our code to create your own button design, please add a screenshot of it to the My dConstruct Button group on Flickr!

The conference itself looks like a real treat as usual, and I'm looking forward to it hugely. 600 tickets sold out in 6 hours last year, so if you're planning on coming make sure you hit the site for your ticket as soon as they go on sale!