6.30am – set off for New Adventures 2012 – allowing 3 hours for driving down to Nottingham – a drive which Google maps assures me will take 1 hour 56 minutes – we’ll see about that. Google maps fail #1

9.20am – arrive in Nottingham town centre with clear instructions on how to get to Mount Street NCP multi-storey. Sorry, Google, but you’re sending me down a dead end street, what gives? Mount Street NCP is on the other side of the road (across a central reservation which means a trip around a roundabout and numerous sets of traffic lights). Google maps fail #2.

9.27am – cutting it fine, I arrive at The Albert Hall just in time, but in the rush forget to collect a goody bag! Disaster! Let’s be honest, it’s one of the main reasons we go to these events isn’t it? No? Just me then.

9.30am – The conference begins.

This is only the second web design conference I’ve been to and my first NA having missed out on tickets in 2011. If I’m honest, I was expecting it to be a re-run of DIBI (that I attended last year in Gateshead), but in a different town. Of course, there were different speakers on the bill, but I thought the topics would be pretty much the same – mobile first, responsive design, HTML5 and CSS3. How wrong could I be?

The main focus of New Adventures 2012 (or what I got from it) was about life as a web designer or developer. There were talks on taking time out and taking care of your physical and mental self. There was an excellent talk from Naomi Atkinson about branding and rebranding yourself or your business.

I was in the process of going it alone after over 6 years being an in-house web developer and online marketing geek, so a lot of the material discussed came at a good time for me.

Although I was expecting more on design and coding techniques, I wasn’t disappointed with the subjects being discussed at NA. I found it refreshing and a nice break from the office.

So I liked NA, and I liked DIBI – but which was better? There’s only one way to find out…

Format

Although DIBI was more technical, I found it difficult as both a front-end and back-end developer to decide which track to follow, so NA would have to win this fight with its one-track schedule.

Speakers

Both NA and DIBI had some great names and I couldn’t really decide between the two, so it’s a drawer in this area.

Venue

Both inspiring buildings, one old (Albert Hall) and one new (The Sage), but The Sage wins it for sheer space, especially during breaks. It felt like we were being corralled slightly at NA. Given the fact I’m about elbow height to the average person, it got a bit claustrophobic at times and there was a moment when my lanyard got caught on a guy’s badges on his bag and I had to struggle discreetly to get free!

Food

Lunch in a bag at NA wasn’t great. Probably my fault; I should have asked for special requirements (I’m currently wearing braces which restricts food down to only soft stuff – I thought I’d be ok with a sandwich, but no, it’s was a crusty baguette, followed by crunchy crisps and an apple!). DIBI on the other hand served hot food – much more civilised. Being from Bradford, I’m a big curry fan, so the chicken curry, rice and naan went down a treat. So DIBI wins it in the food stakes.

Breaks

I could be wrong, but I found DIBI breaks were a bit lacking – tea, coffee and if you’re lucky, a pre-fingered biscuit. Perhaps I didn’t go to the right place during breaks? NA, on the other hand, had cupcakes! You can’t go wrong with cupcakes (unless your diet solely consists of them, but that’s another blog post). NA wins the breaks round.

Scores

New Adventures 2012 3:3 Design it. Build it. 2011

Conclusion

It was difficult to pick an overall winner, given the differences in format. And I think we need these differences given the wide variety of people they have to cater for. So if you’re looking for distinct front-end and back-end tracks with specialised speakers, I’d recommend DIBI. If you’re more after a social event with more abstract, general topics, I recommend NA.

Well DIBI 2012 is just around the corner – can it live up to last year’s event? I certainly hope so. I’m very much looking forward to the workshops the day before and learning some new skills. Oh, and meeting some new people! See you there!

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