Web Dev Conference 2012: Look back

A week or so ago I attended WDC 2012 (Web Development Conference 2012), which was my first web design & development conference. And yes, I did put design, and you’ll see why in the following. At the conference we were treated to a number of speakers. Without blabbing on too much, I’d like to explain who they are, what they do, and what I thought about them:

First speaker: David Burton

David is Head of Innovation at Redweb. He believes that everyone is creative, and broke down creative into 5 types. The 5 types, along with everything he talked about, can be found in his presentation slides. Along with creativity, David talked about producing great ideas through play. I very much enjoyed his talk, it was more conceptual to what I was expecting but thats far from a criticism. Being a designer this was right up my alley. Great start to the day. Here’s a link to his personal website.

Second speaker: Jack Franklin

Jack is a young developer at Kainos. Now I use GitBox for all my commits in git versioning, but Jack uses Terminal. In Jack’s talk he said it was better than using a GUI, not only that but I am aware most developers use Terminal. Rather than being stubborn I put my “Challenge Accepted” face on a eagerly took down notes. Jack also talked about Javascript & JQuery (yes I know its the same thing). One of my favourites from the day as it inspired me to try new things. Here’s Jacks own site which links to a few of his projects.

Break: Costa Coffee

Third speaker: Keir Moffatt

Continuing the variety of angles Keir presented an talk about the similarities between World Wide Web & the Wild Wild West. Surprisingly there were quite a few! The villans attempting to contradict the law and the sheriffs that try to uphold it for example. He also spoke about his first hand experience of this and his view on  the whole concept of the Wild Wild Web. Keir came across as a natural on stage, easy to listen to and kept interest throughout. And then out of nowhere a gang of break dancing bandits stormed the stage and challenged him to a dance-off. Needless to say he busted out his moves and sent them packing. Excellent all round talk. By the way, here’s Keir’s blog where he posts about his thoughts and processes.

Fourth speaker: Shane Tomlinson

Shane works for Mozilla on the Mozilla Persona project. He explained about the importance of identities and the protection of them. Despite this area of web development being completely foreign to me I did understand parts of it. Such as users picking connivence over security when it came to setting a password. His solution? Make it easier for users, simple things like allowing the user to use as many characters as they want or using punctuation. Small things like this can vastly improve security. Despite it being very technical I was still interested in Shane’s talk. Shane also has a personal site that he regularly posts on.

Lunch: Subway

Fifth speaker: Syd Lawrence

This guy was full of energy from the very beginning. He currently works (and founded) We Make Awesome Sh.it, which does what it says on the tin. The work he does reminds me so much of when I was doing my Interactive Design degree at Lincoln, it really makes me wish I had more coding knowledge back then. Syd’s talk was simply “play with code, try something out and make something cool”, which is exactly what he does. For example Instac.at, which uses the Instagram API to pull out any picture tagged with ‘#cat’. This experiment has now been used for clients such as Professor Green and Cannes Lions. Super inspiring, makes me want to go & make awesome shi…

Break: Grabbed a drink and met Rachel Shillcock. Had a brief chat, pleasant to chat with and had an excellent Manchester accent.

Sixth speaker: Andrew Spooner

Andrew was positive and fun speaker, his jokes weren’t the best but I chuckled anyway. He talked about the research for Windows 8, such as the concept of hinting and natural sound within UX. To go with this he showed us some great videos that expanded his points, they featured interviews with experts such as Gareth Jones & Erik Spiekermann. I was really enjoying Andrew’s talk, however about two thirds in Andrew suddenly started talking about APIs & Apps for Windows 8. It was all sounding like a sales pitch to me, and when his machine crashed it only made it worse. This was the fly in the ointment for me.

Seventh speaker: Robbie Manson

This may have been my favourite talk from the whole event. Robbie is a designer & front end developer at Freeagent. His talk focused on the relationship between the design and the person. He likes to incorporate films into his talks, in ours he spoke about a scene from Jaws. I could tell that Robbie is not only passionate about design, but that he also the thinking behind it. This might be a trivial comment but, even his slides were designed beautifully. Someone in the crowd asked what fonts he used, “Glad you asked that, Abril Fatface & Gentium Book Basic” he replied. This is the guy I’d want to have a chat with over a pint. Check out his portfolio site if you have a moment.

Conclusion: Excellent

This event was what I expected and more. All the speakers gave brilliant talks that opened my mind, not only in terms of development but also in design. They all came from such a wide range of backgrounds within the industry, and hearing from all those different angles was really a great deal of interest to me. I’ll take a lot from this conference. I’ve found new drive towards learning new languages, I’ve learnt that playing with ideas really can bare truly fruitful avenues, and that I’m not the only one that gets really passionate about their work. All I need to do now is to put this new found knowledge to good use!

WDC is held every year in the city of Bristol, and organised by Alex Older. I’d like to thank him for putting the show together and allowing me, and all the other attendees, the opportunity to hear from professionals in the field of Web Design & Development.

Cheers, Dave