A ReadWriteWeb Guide

Whether you make your living as a professional pixel pusher or you simply hold yourself to a higher aesthetic standard, South by Southwest has a rich and varied stream of opportunities for designers.

We've put together a list of ten essential places, parties, panels and other events to help you tailor your SXSW 2010 experience to your own individual interests.

From Web typography to "WTF WordPress?", SXSW rocks for web designers in particular. And the many social events also include a few rich, interactive visual experiences, as well. Read on, and let us know you favorite Austin spots in the comments.

This is part of a series of ReadWriteWeb guides to SXSW Interactive 2010. If this guide isn't your cup of tea, be sure to check back for more information soon!

Is WordPress Killing Web Design?

Strong words, valid question, and sure to be a contentious panel this year.

"Is WordPress killing web design? Leading creatives from the world of web design debate whether CMS tools have made designers lazy, and created a new set of design conventions that designers feel obliged to follow." With Brendan Dawes of magneticNorth, Dan Mall of Big Spaceship, Dan Oliver of Future Publishing/.net magazine, Jina Bolton of Crush + Lovely and Shane Mielke of 2Advanced Studios.


"Conceptart.org Events, Massive Black and The Art Department open ScreenBurn at SXSW Interactive with Visions,' a one-of-a-kind multimedia event combining cutting-edge, live, digital and traditional art performances from the top film, video game and classically trained artists in the art world. Experience pulsing music from local and international DJs, special performance by International Burlesque performer, Eva Strangelove, and provocative runway fashion by Loves, Mariessa - all surrounded by gorgeous muses for every imagination and inspiration. Join us for a night of traditional and digital performances like you have never seen before. With software combining with leading talent, the show is not to be missed."

24 Diner

After a late party, how about some delicious nosh in a beautifully designed environment?

Chef-inspired comfort food is served up around the clock at this relatively new spot. The foodies among you might appreciate the bacon gorgonzola burger or the famed roasted banana and brown sugar milkshake. Aesthetically, 24 Diner is a throwback to clean, mid-century modernism. While you're there, be sure to take in the many charming details of 24 Diner's interior design.

Valerie Casey Keynote

"Casey, founder and Executive Director of the Designers Accord, works with organizations all over the world to create positive social and environmental impact. She has been named a 'Guru you should know' by Fortune magazine, a 'Hero of the Environment' by Time magazine, and a 'Master of Design' by Fast Company."

Museum of Digital Art Showcase

"The Austin Museum of Digital Art presents a party featuring live electronic music and visual art. Expect video projections, interactive installations, and a Laptop Battle with musicians competing to outperform one another in a series of elimination rounds. Free for SXSW Interactive badgeholders."

Web Fonts: The Time Has Come

"After 15 years of contenting ourselves with system fonts, or image type, the planets are now in line for getting real fonts on the web. Some solutions are already working, and a cross-platform standard is emerging. Here web designer and type designers mix it up on how the font hurdles is finally being lept." With Stephen Coles of FontShop/Typographica, Roger Black and David Berlow of The Font Bureau, Jeffrey Veen of Google and Bert Bos of W3C.

Of course, there are several other type-related panels throughout the conference, including Get Stoked on Web Typography, CSS and Fonts: Fluid Web Typography,

Adobe Sunday Brunch

"There will be bacon, coffee and geekery at the Adobe Sunday Brunch. Join us at 10am on Sunday for FREE brunch at the Adobe Day Stage. Adobe product managers and evangelists will be sharing the latest on mobile development with Flash and more from Adobe Labs. RSVP at http://facebook.com/AdobeSXSW. There might even be a few surprises. Join us to find out."

Helpful hint: That Facebook link will also show you how to RSVP for Adobe's Happy Hour the following day.

Pain-Free Design Sign-Off

"Getting design approval can be like pulling teeth. Clients seem to make irrational decisions based on personal opinion. They ignore our expertise, reducing us to pixel pushers. However, it does not need to be this way. With good communication and a sound methodology, design sign off can be pain free." With Paul Boag of Headscape.

More sessions on external and internal process: Your Design Process Is Killing You with Sara Summers of Microsoft and Interactive Agency Workflow: Design and Development Process with Danny Riddell of Archetype.

Visual Note-Taking 101

"Ever since Leonardo put pen to paper, visual note-taking has been a route to improve the quality of your thinking, make information more memorable, and make your ideas easier to share with others. Learn practical techniques and ''tricks of the trade'' from modern visual note-taking masters: how to write, sketch, and diagram ideas live, in real time, as you hear them." With Sunni Brown of BrightSpot Info Design, Mike Rohde, Dave Gray of XPLANE and Austin Kleon.

Society of Digital Agencies Mixer

"It was only 3 short years ago that Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) officially announced their launch at SXSW. In celebration of our growth and accomplishments SoDA is holding their signature Digerati Mixer just steps away from the Austin Convention Center. As always we invite all our industry friends to join our SoDA members in a fun and casual atmosphere for appetizers, drinks and conversation."

Other Events

Of course, this selection represents a mere smattering of all the things to do, see, hear and learn (and eat and drink) while you're in Austin. If you're inclined to spend a little more time inside the convention center, we also stumbled across these panels for designers:

Revealing Design Treasures from the Amazon
Design Fiction: Props, Prototypes, Predicaments Communicating New Ideas
Designing the First Fifteen Minutes
Persuasive Design: Encouraging Your Users To Do What You Want Them To!
Understanding Content: The Stuff We Design For

Those are a few of our SXSW Interaction recommendations for designers of all stripes. If you've got suggestions or feedback, let us know in the comments! See you in Austin, folks!