Patrick McNeil kicked off FOWD this morning with design examples from his aggregation site Design Meltdown. His ideas for “living” inspiration–know your sources, practice, and have your inspiration detector “always on”–were commonsensical kind of things that make a difference. But it was his examples of these traits that were particularly helpful.
For example, “just practice” inspires no one. However, a practice regimen, like the “one design a day” concept really changed my point of view. Structured practice is the key. Even if it’s just-get-it-out-of-the-way crap practice.
His notations about trends in web design were interesting. Brown is a big color now (new WordPress admin, and even the FOWD site itself). Oversize banners, formerly a no-no, are on the rise. I think Matt Mullenweg beat that trend by a few years at least, though he said at WordCamp Dallas he planned to reduce it somewhat. And no more eye burning colors like hot pink. McNeil says colors are starting to get softer as Web 2.0 settles into its groove.
Perhaps the trend I found most interesting, and one that made a lot of sense to me, is the horizontal scrolling site. Monitors are cinema-shaped now, instead of roughly square. And lots of people are using multiple monitors. So it makes sense that a site would have more horizontal space. Karlik Design is a beautiful illustration of the concept.