Smashing Conference 2023

Leveling Up: Our Team’s Takeaways from SmashingConf SF 2023

Being a web developer is a whirlwind. The industry constantly changes, keeping us on our toes and occasionally causing us to question our life choices. Fortunately, our team and I had the privilege of attending this year’s Smashing Conference in San Francisco. This conference delved into various aspects of the front-end user experience. In this blog post, I will share five intriguing things I learned that hold immense potential to significantly benefit our clients.

animated gif image of a person running into a whirwind
Live shot of a web developer’s life

Exploring Updates to Chrome DevTools

Chrome DevTools, the go-to debugging tool for web developers, has introduced several exciting features that can improve our workflow. With the ability to capture screenshots, we can quickly identify and troubleshoot issues with the user interface (UI). Additionally, the capability to save changes locally in the browser allows for efficient experimentation and prototyping. The rendering panel, which enables the emulation of light/dark mode and visual impairment, helps us optimize site performance and improve accessibility. These enhancements will ultimately create a more polished and user-friendly website for our clients.

Reducing the Use of Tables in HTML Emails

HTML emails have long relied on tables for layout, but embracing modern coding practices can yield numerous benefits. By reducing the usage of tables in HTML emails, we can minimize the likelihood of bugs and enhance the responsiveness of the content. This approach also promotes better inheritance of styles, making it easier to maintain and update email templates. Moreover, adopting more readable code and future-proofing techniques allows us to seamlessly adapt to evolving email platforms. By prioritizing accessibility, we ensure that our clients’ newsletters and emails are available to a broader audience, regardless of the email platform a client uses.

Making Informed Decisions Using

To deliver exceptional web experiences, leveraging web technologies widely supported across different browsers and platforms is crucial. is a valuable resource that provides up-to-date browser support tables. By referencing this platform, we can ensure that the technologies we use align with the capabilities of our client’s target audience. This knowledge empowers us to make informed decisions and deliver a consistent experience across various devices and browsers.

Prioritizing Accessibility with User-Focused CSS Media Queries

More than ever, inclusivity and accessibility are vital considerations in web development. CSS media queries provide a powerful mechanism to adapt the user experience based on individual preferences. Leveraging media queries such as @prefers-color-scheme, @prefers-contrast, and @prefers-reduced-motion, we can create a more accessible and user-friendly website. By accommodating users’ needs regarding color schemes, contrast levels, and motion preferences, we enhance the overall experience and ensure that our client’s websites are inclusive to all visitors.

illustration of hands holding a sign that reads accessibility for all

Simplifying Fluid Typography with the CSS Clamp Function

The CSS clamp function allows us to create fluid typography easier and with less code than we currently do. Usually, when we would create responsive typography that changes sizes or values on breakpoints that we set, we would need to provide font sizes, line heights, and letter spacing for desktop, tablet, mobile, and sometimes custom breakpoints to make sure the font looks good at that viewpoint. 

This new function works by setting up the minimum value, preferred value, and maximum value with the clamp CSS, like this: 

font-size: clamp([value-min], [value-preferred], [value-max]);
.fluid {font-size: clamp(5rem, 5vw, 8rem);}

Although fluid typography seems like the best solution moving forward, it shouldn’t entirely replace responsive typography but should be used to enhance specific use cases. Therefore, this gives us another tool in our kit when building responsive websites.

The Final Touch: View Transitions API

Web design is another component of our work that is constantly evolving. Furthermore, users increasingly expect dynamic and engaging experiences. The View Transitions API allows us to create smooth transitions between different states of a document, including full-page navigations. We can captivate users with visually appealing animations and seamless interactions by incorporating view transitions into our clients’ websites. This approach enhances the overall user experience and adds a touch of sophistication and modernity to the website.

We look forward to trying these shiny new tools in our upcoming client projects. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning how we can use these tools to enhance your business or brand’s website, please feel free to reach out and schedule a meeting with our team. 

Dillon White  |  Senior Designer