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Responsive Field Day 2015 Review

Responsive Field Day 2015 Review

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Responsive Field Day

I had a great time at the Responsive Field Day conference, which was hosted at Revolution Hall. Here is what I took away from event.

The single track format consisted of pithy, 20-minute talks from world-class speakers that were followed up by hosted panel discussions along with Q&A from the audience. This format really made audience members feel like they were a part of the conference. The hosts, Lyza Danger Gardner and Jason Grigsby of Cloud Four asked well-informed, meaty questions I was wondering about myself.

Progressive Enhancement, Accessibility, Ubiquity

It was interesting that in almost every talk the topic of web accessibility came up, along with a heavy focus on web standards, user experience, performance, and progressive enhancement. These days, thought leaders are talking less about ‘immersive experiences’ and more about great user experiences.

Tweet about accessibility being mentioned in every talk
Tweet about accessibility being mentioned in every talk

Be kind

It is also worth noting that at the beginning of the conference special time was set aside for addressing the conference’s Code of Conduct. It is unfortunate that we need these at tech conferences these days, but it effectively set the tone for an inclusive, safe, and respectful day.

I enjoyed and learned something from every speaker at the conference – here are just a few highlights:

Brad Frost – Looking for a Place to Hang My Hat

A great talk about what we can rely on these days when being bombarded by countless tools and approaches to web development. He spoke about Atomic Design and how designing with modularity in mind can help.

Hang your hat on these:

  • Principles
  • Collaboration
  • Sharing
  • Respect
  • Responsive Design
  • Progressive Enhancement
  • Design Systems
  • Simplicity

Something he said really stuck with me and rings true:

“The web is a giant puzzle and we’ve lost the box for it..” – Brad Frost

Marcy Sutton – Mobile Web Accessibility for Developers

In 20 minutes we learned a considerable amount about accessibility on mobile and why further consideration in this space is important. Powerful video examples of modals, focus management, gesture conflicts, and mobile screen readers were demonstrated.

Things to consider when developing for mobile:

  • Visual clutter
  • Everything’s too small
  • Ambiguous visual icons
  • Locked-down zoom
  • Hijacked scrolling
  • Conflicting Gestures – ie. swipe

Tom Dale – Progressive Enhancement is Dead, Long Live Progressive Enhancement

The creator of ember.js gives a fairly edgy talk about the state of JavaScript in the development world and progressive enhancement. At times, Tom appeared to be defensive while rebutting claims made by Eric Meyer in a recent talk about progressive enhancement. The defense was a solid one making for an exciting talk.

Tom introduced Ember FastBoot – which is a project that hopes to close the gap with JavaScript powered applications and progressive enhancement using server-side rendering.

Jeremy Keith – Be Progressive

Getting to see Jeremy Keith speak for the first time was a treat!! Jeremy put progressive enhancement into perspective for all of us in the crowd.

  1. Identify core functionality.
  2. Make that functionality available using the simplest technology.
  3. Enhance!

Steve Souders – Measuring What’s Important

Steve basically tore down all the ways we currently measure speed and performance by exposing the fact that many of the tools we use currently provide unreliable and inconsistent results. The take-away was to continue speed performance testing but that “perceived speed” is more important than page load times or other metrics gained from testing. What the user experiences may be a better thing to test for.

Steve pointed out that there is a native API out there to help with more accurate testing now: window.performance(); He also noted that Webpagetest.com is a trusted tool.

Jen Simmons – Modern Layouts: Getting Out of Our Ruts

In a very moving talk, Jen challenges the entire design community to leverage new technologies and break out of repeated design patterns that we appear to be stuck in. She believes we are in a bit of a “design rut.”

Jen was using awesome print layout examples to inspire the crowd.

Ethan Marcotte – Design Beyond Our Devices

Ethan, who invented Responsive Design, is an amazing speaker. He covered consideration of markup order while leveraging Flexbox. He demonstrated with code examples how to obtain a different visual order to a design pattern while maintaining proper markup order.

In a nutshell, code semantically and respectfully leverage new technology when you can to tackle a design challenge.

A quote that stuck with me Ethan said:

“Not everyone uses the web like me.” – Ethan Marcotte

Supporting local music

The organizers even had local recorded music being played between each presenter and break.

@TheShivas, @lifeformed, @wildonestheband, @botanistmusic,Neahkahnie, Health & Happiness

Giving Back

Cloud Four gave back proceeds from the conference. “Any proceeds from the event will be donated to programs that support open web technologies, the tech community and education.”

Photos from the day:

There was a professional photographer there for the day. Take a peek at the photos from the conference.

Follow Responsive Field Day on Twitter to stay up to date and learn when the next one will happen. See you there!

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