#frontendconf 2013


I went to St. Petersburg, Florida last week for this conference. Being the first front-end conference I’d been to, I had no clue what to expect, but I came away from it with a few things:

  • a greater appreciation for the industry as a whole
  • a bunch of new contacts in the industry
  • new techniques (to me at least) in web design/development
  • inspiration

The two-day conference started Friday, but I signed up for the pre-conference workshop on Thursday, led by Nick Walsh and Drew Barontini of Envy Labs. They spent the day talking to us about the state of the web industry and best practices of front-end design. They did a fantastic job, and showed off their own creation in MVCSS, an “architecture for creating predictable and maintainable application style.” Really cool stuff for sure, but I know I’ll have to work my way up to using it, since some of the talk was over my head.

They shared some awesome tips and methods, including one of my favorites, using icon fonts. By including a font of icons with @fontface, you can easily add icons to your website with great flexibility and performance. Mind=blown. They made a kippt website where they shared links to a lot of the things they mentioned, and I’ve linked to it here. I currently have about a dozen tabs still open from their talk that I want to go back and look at.

Friday was the first day of the main talks, and it was awesome. The line-up of speakers included big-names and each speaker did a fantastic job and spoke in a very conversational tone which made it easy to go up and talk to them afterwards. There was a lot to take in, and a portion of it was above me, so I’m glad they are releasing a video of all the talks so that I can go back and rewatch them. On day 1, I learned:

  • From Matt Graham: There are three fundamental building blocks that help foster community. Trust, Humility, and Relationships.
  • From Michael Parenteau: We aren’t unable to learn stuff just because we think a certain way. Engage in collaboration and learn. Don’t be pigeonholed.
  • From Jenn Lukas: :hovers are freaking sexy (thanks Jenn, you’re awesome). The :hover pseudo class can be very useful and look spectacular when used correctly.
  • From Chris Coyier: .Sass is amazing and helpful and efficient.  I’m learning it now. Also a great overview on abstraction.
  • From the ShopTalk live podcast: Shop Talk is a funny, informative, and entertaining podcast. It was cool to watch it happen live. I’ll keep listening…
  • From Ben Callahan: Best practices in serving styles in RWD. “The amount of process required is inversely proportional to the skill and experience of your team.”
  • From Doug Neiner: A bunch of jQuery stuff that’s over my head, but just watching it was fascinating. Doug Neiner was on top of it and he is brilliant.
  • From Cameron Moll: Be authentic. Write a lot. You might not grow up to be what you’d hoped, but you’ll never want it any other way.

*Portions of some bullet points were taken from http://blog.tylergoelz.com, where Tyler does an excellent job of summarizing each presentation.

The day was great, the breaks were great (we had a bacon bar), and the community was great. The conference had rented out a bar for everyone to hang out and socialize after day 1. That’s where I learned how awesome the community is. I met some amazingly cool and inspiring people, and (hopefully) made some quality connections with good people.

Day two consisted of attendee presentations, which were all fascinatingly diverse and intriguing. Here’s the line-up. I’ll let you read through the presentations and not bore you with a ton of bullets like I did above. Some of the more interesting presentations to me included Dan Tello’s on using the html5 <canvas> to make Run Puma Run, “Why Extracurricular Design is Essential” by Justin Mezzell (even though I missed some of it :/), Milton Jackson‘s #OurWebsitesSuck presentation that took a critical look at why make some design decisions, Joel Glovier‘s talk on empathy and UI/UX, since that’s a field I’m very interested in, and David Leininger‘s presentation on false interactivity and parallax. They were all superb.

Now I have way too much homework to do in checking out all the resources mentioned during the conference and in talking to fellow attendees, as well as trying to keep up with the connections I’ve recently made. Twitter has been awesome for keeping in touch with everyone (I do apologize if you’re a follower and I’ve bored/annoyed you to death over the past week).

Like I said, the community is awesome, and I can’t wait to go to another conference and learn more. Overall a great time, and I can’t thank Clemson’s Graphic Communications program enough for giving me the opportunity to go!

’til the tide turns,


Resources (awesomely helpful tools are in bold):

http://airfoil.backlift.com and https://www.backlift.com

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