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Anna Stout’s Astute Design Observations

Anna Stout’s Astute Design Observations

Anna Stout is the owner and primary front-end web designer and developer of Astute Communications. She’s a close follower of Unmatched Style, the organization behind BDConf, and was kind enough to speak with me and even connect me with the Unmatched Style team.

Earlier in the year, Anna attended Unmatched Style’s Converge Southeast conference in Columbia, South Carolina. It’s a large conference with great speakers, in-depth content, a strong focus on front-end web developers, and excellent after parties. Understandably, she was excited to appear at BDConf in her hometown of Nashville, TN.

BDConf was very mobile focused. Anna remarked, however, that more than just a focus on designing for mobile devices, the conference emphasized planning for mobility on a larger scale. It challenged designers to reconsider web development as a whole. For some, this may mean intentionally forgetting the design norms of desktop computing, hence the “Breaking Development” and “Beyond Desktop” terminology.

A large part of this design rethinking is a renewed focus on content. Anna remarks that it’s easy for designers “to start designing before they know what they’re designing for.” It’s increasingly important to put content first in a mobile world with limited screen space and web access on the go. Fancy, aesthetic designs are nice, but it is more important to ensure that the design complements the content than to allow the design to become the primary driver.

Anna’s business story is as insightful as her conference takeaways. She finished school, worked as a front end developer with the GS&F communications agency, resigned from that position to stay home with her almost 2 year-old son, and has now owned her own company for a little over a year.

She does a lot of the design and development production herself and works from home, which is why she makes a point to get out the house and go to conferences like BDConf. It’s easy for designers to get caught up in their work and forget to keep learning new things, which is dangerous in the constantly evolving world of web development. Anna’s advice to designers is to go out, attend conferences, follow organizations like Unmatched Style, and meet up with local groups to learn new things and stay in tune with the community.

Since our interview, Anna and I have both been volunteered with our local BarCamp. Make sure to get involved in your design / developer community and we’ll both see you at the next BDconf event!

Interview by host Clark Buckner.