Ever heard of Smashing Magazine? It’s one of the leading resources for web designers and developers where they can share the latest trends and techniques. The entire JP web team was fortunate to take a trip up to San Francisco for the week and take part in SmashingConf, the mecca of all things web design and development.
Jealous? Don’t worry, our web team recapped some of their favorite moments from the conference so it’ll feel like you were there (well, maybe not actually there, but close enough).
This year, I was in charge of finding a conference for the web team to attend. There were a few on my list, including Smashing, but I figured the easiest choice would be to let the team vote.
Little did I know how much I would love the entire experience. The team made a good choice.
SmashingConf was an event packed with endless information and the speaker lineup surpassed every expectation I had for the week. While all speakers were great, three stood out among the rest: Denys Mishunov, Rachel Andrew, and the mystery speaker Sara Soueidan.
Denys was the opening speaker and had a killer presentation on performance. One of the biggest points from Denys’ presentation was that performance is perception.
A user’s perception of your website’s speed is the only true performance measure.
Targeting elements need to load first so the site is visible and usable, while the remainder of the website loads in the background. This gives the perception to the users that your website loads fast. To the average user, Amazon’s website loads in less than one second, but in reality the site takes about seven to nine seconds to fully load the home page. Interesting, right?
Rachel covered emerging techniques in CSS Grids and Flexbox that will soon be supported by all updated browsers. CSS Grids and Flexbox are the future of layouts and allow designers and developers to create layouts that would be typically pretty difficult.
What I liked about Sara’s presentation was her ability to explain the new Smashing Magazine website step-by-step. As a team, we could relate to their own struggles from design to development, but understanding that there is always a solution no matter how unconventional.
It was fun to see how they would celebrate the tricks they used to develop their new website, because often times our team does the same exact thing. This was an amazing experience and I will be back again, maybe even volunteering for the event.
SmashingConf was a super awesome and informative dive into a deeper world of web development. The topics touched on all aspects of the web story from brainstorming to user-testing, including systems development, accessibility, and optimization. We learned all sorts of new techniques and insights, but it was reassuring to know that we have kept up with the latest trends in web. Our basic rule for every project and one that was reiterated throughout the conference was:
Starting from day one with documentation, proper markup, and best practices will ensure a flexible and well-executed web project.
Some of the presentations that stood out for me were Jessica Svendsen’s Designing For Display and Christian Holst’s Conversion Rate Optimization Techniques in E-commerce.
Jessica Svendsen’s portfolio work, in particular, reminded me of how a simplistic approach towards design can be extremely pleasing and successful. In her work, she challenges herself to produce away from typical computer-software methods. This translates into extremely clever instances of photography, sculptures and 3D productions. I plan to use my inspiration from her approach in as many future projects as I can, particularly my next Type Tuesday blog post.
Christian Holst’s insights into his studies of conversions, checkout processes and user interaction with forms and fields was extremely illustrative and useful for our JP projects. He presented five (of more than 70!) cold-hard findings from his established research institute and elaborated on why it is imperative to apply such practices for businesses.
One of our goals at JP is to increase lead conversions for our clients through the tools we build for them. After hearing Holst’s insights, I’ve already planned for some instant updates in several clients’ form fills to optimize lead generation capabilities.
Ultimately the conference was great. It provided us with two whole days of engaging sessions, one all-day, hands-on workshop, 12 different speakers, countless connections with industry leaders and 120 hours of some serious team bonding.
You know you’re off to a good start when the first speaker of the conference defies all the expectations you had about the conference. Denys Mishunov’s talk on Deconstructing Performance really stood out to me and made me really think about how performance can impact a user’s experience.
Believe me, it will make a difference. However, our users don’t care about kilobytes, milliseconds and number of requests.
He explained that performance is not about mathematics (thankfully!). Performance is about perception. Enhancing the user’s experience requires some smoke and mirrors, but I look forward to applying his performance methodology to future website development projects.
One of those “mind blown” moments for me was during Mark Robbins’ CSS and Interactive Email talk. This guy excels at hacking away at CSS inside emails to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible in interactive emails. He developed a technique/hack called Punched Card Coding.
This technique basically uses a large number of radio buttons and styles the CSS based on the :checked values of those buttons. Using this system he was able to create interactive shopping carts, photo galleries, games (check this one out, you won’t regret it) and the best part was his entire presentation was all done within Mail.