During Web Directions South 2013 I noticed an interesting twitter conversation between John Allsopp and Ethan Marcotte. Unfortunately I don’t have the patience to find that conversation but the general gist was Ethan wishing John all the best for the conference and dropping the hint that he would one day love to come to Australia.
I had a little inkling that maybe he might be out for a future Web Directions South, but to my surprise, and many others, John and Maxine, the team behind the Web Directions conferences, decided to mash together a one-of-a-kind (maybe there will be another??) conference focusing on Responsive Web Design. Oh boy, did they pull together an awesome lineup!
A festival of Responsive Web Design for designers and developers of the multi-device Web.
The Respond lineup consisted of Ethan Marcotte, Jason Grigsby, John Allsopp, Sally Bagshaw, Craig Sharkie, Cathy Lill, Adem Cifcioglu, Colin Gourlay, Andrew Fisher, Drew Schrauf, David Lewis and Brad Frost.
The conference was a two day event.
The first day consisted of a Brad Frost workshop – Working with Atomic Design and Responsive Patterns. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend, but word on the street from the people that attended was:
One massive invaluable brain dump by Brad Frost. Priceless.
Day two was a single track, starting with Jason Grigsby doing a general overview of Responsive Design. He had some great pointers on things we should try to aim for when building responsively. His detailed overview of the whole “Responsive Image” issue was super concise and insightful. One of his main takeaways was – Whatever image solution you decided to roll with today, be smart. Don’t embed yourself too much in it as this space is evolving rapidly. He really set the stage for the cracking day that was to come.
Adem Cifcioglu was next up and expressed to the audience that just because it’s responsive, doesn’t mean it can’t be accessible. He passed on some great tips and advised us all on using some of the browser’s built in inputs for extra win.
After Adem, Colin Gourlay from the ABC covered how easy it is to make data-driven content friendly across any device width. His core takeaways were SVG’s rock and D3.js extensions.
Craig Sharkie followed Collin. His talk revolved around matchMedia and flying birds. As always, entertaining. His demo nailed the message and gave everyone in the audience a great overview of where matchMedia is at and when to use it.
Drew Schrauf from the agency land was next up and he touched on how inside his company they are changing processes to adapt to the responsive landscape. He showed off a few example of how to please your manager, whist still keeping things lean, and reducing technical debt.
After the break, David Lewis produced a very polished talk. He covered 5 navigation patterns, but focused on 3 in great detail. If you came into this talk worried about small screen navigation, you came out the otherside doing it in your sleep with ease.
Sally Bagshaw was next up and really emphasised that content should become part of the process from the beginning of a project. After Sally, Cathy Lill stepped up to the mic and shared some great advice on how to make emails responsive. From what is a bit of a dark art to many, Cathy managed to pass on her knowledge in an entertaining manner and provide some pretty awesome bullet-proof development tips.
The last speaker in this time block was Andrew Fisher. Andrew covered some great insights into ways to capture data from your users to provide a better experience going forward. There was also some great conversations within the audience after his talk around A/B testing different size viewports.
After the afternoon break, John Allsopp stepped up to the stage and took the audience on a journey into the past. He touched on what has been some really important milestones and where we have chased our tails. He set the stage perfectly for Ethan Marcotte.
Ethan was the main drawcard, well at least for me. He delivered! Ethan’s talk covered some very basic aspects of Responsive Web Design, which intertwined into the big picture perfectly. Ethan’s main takeaway for me was:
We have a long way to go, but we are in the position to shape it. Let’s do it right.
If you ever get the chance to see him talk and you are passionate about the Web, make it happen.
Following Ethan’s talk, John, Jason and Ethan jumped on some comfy chairs and did a Q & A session. This gave the audience a few more opportunities to pick their brains. The variety and depth of the discussions really represented the down-to-earth nature of this conference. So many people were willing to contribute, give advice and take note.
As a whole, the conference was a massive win. The alignment of the talks were perfect. The Q & A after the 4 short talks worked extremely well, and the interaction from the audiences and the speakers during the day really showcased the true the camaraderie that we are all in this together.