things we learned

lessons from working in the design and web development business

Smashing Conference, Freiburg, Germany, September 2012

The first Smashing Conference was the second »web« conference I attended. Having talked with Vitaly Friedman and Marc Thiele at last year’s »Beyond Tellerrand«, it was a no-brainer to attend the debut of Smashing Magazine’s conference. I was sure that this would be another great opportunity to refill my drained batteries, to catch up with the changes happening in our industry, to get to know in person the likeable people who inhabit my twitter-timeline, well, frankly, to have a good time.

We want to create a friendly, inspiring and *meaningful* event that will help everybody involved to become better at what they do. Having attended many conferences myself, I often felt that a lot of talks focus only on the *results* of the design process. We wanted to create a conference which would be focussed on the process itself and share valuable practicle insights
– Vitaly Friedman, interview in offscreen mag #3

The two days of talks (sadly I didn’t book some workshops) offered a very good balance of design-, philosophy-, typography-, and development-based topics.

I won’t point out highlights, for me there was something in every single talk: Be it the “greater” themes like the “Spirit Of The Internet” by Jeremy Keith or the heavy conceptual stuff like “The Real Me” by Aaron Walter, the amazing examples of what is possible with CSS3 by Lea Verou (although I would have loved to hear her talking about RegEx, the secret weapon in our arsenals :-) ), the amazing talks by Paul Boag and surprise speaker Andy Clarke which centered around how to bring back satisfaction in Client Work (a huge personal and problem-ridden theme for me personally, to be honest), the ass-kicking talks about the means of Responsive Webdesign and Workflow beyond the design- and development issues, and their impact on business decisions (Brad Frost), the role of CMS in all that by Rachel Andrew… see, I could go on forever.

Really, for me coming from graphic design, and developing & coding for like 18 years now, the variety of topics was simply spot-on. Webfonts, typographic principles for responsive challenges (amazing talk by Josh Brewer), mastering myriads of overgrowing and repetitive CSS declarations (Nicole Sullivan, Jonathan Snook), automating the creation of styleguides instead of trying to show everything in Photoshop by using command line tools to fetch the actual css and screenshots (Stephen Hay), the power of Happy Accidents (Mark Boulton), the seemingly urge to converse olden times in design right now (Oliver Reichenstein), the douchebag that is Application Cache (with wonderful SVGdriven diagrams by Jake Archibald), the not-so-doom&gloom web (Christian Heilmann) – and all this accompanied with chats and talks during the breaks in the lovely venue – I’m not a “awesome” person myself (as Jens Grochtdreis so aptly put it), but, man, this whole package comes really really close.

And this is not least of all because the topics followed that idea of showing not results, but processes, true to what Mr. Smashingmag stated in the quote above.

Very well done.

Sure, the breaks between talks were sometimes really short, but since the talks all were so interesting, I’d rather make no breaks instead of having a speaker not finishing his or her talk.
The only really downside was that on the first day some chairs got missing somehow so some attendees had to stand at the back of the room or sit on the floor – there must’ve gone something wrong with the otherwise great organization.

If you’re interested in summaries of the talks, be sure to visit Brad Frost’s blog, he did an amazing job in getting down to the core of each talk and posting it nearly in realtime. Also, see Smashing’s own liveblog of day one and day two to get an impression.

So finally and again: Thanks to all who attended, organized, cared, spoke and made this an overall very great event.

I’ll update this post with the links to the slides and maybe videos, as I find them online. Make sure to visit the conference’s Lanyard page for updates on blogs, recaps and materials.


Updates:

# Christian Heilmann: To Be Announced


Christian Heilmann’s video

# Rachel Andrew: The Future Of Content Management

Rachel Andrew’s slides
The Video of Rachel’s talk

# Jake Archibald: Application Cache: Douchebag

Jake’s slides
Jake’s article on A List Apart

#Canker Lady (Andy Clarke): How to call your client an idiot, to their face, without getting fired, then have them thank you for it

Andy Clarke’s Blogpost
Andy’s artice on Smashingmagazine

#Lea Verou: More CSS Secrets – Another 10 Things You May Not Know About CSS

Lea’s slides

# Brad Frost: Beyond Media Queries

Brad’s slides
The Video of Brad’s Talk

# Paul Boag: Client Centric Web Design

Paul’s Slides

#Jonathan Snook: Your CSS is a Mess

Jonathan’s Slides

#Jeremy Keith: The Spirit Of The Web

The Video of Keith’s talk

# Stephen Hay: Styleguides Are The New Photoshop

The Video of Stephen’s Talk


If you attended yourself, if you have questions or suggestions, feel free to share in the comments.

Tom

Author: Tom

@webrocker - Designer, Illustrator, Musician, Tinkerer, Thinker. Geek ~ Fiddlin' with teh webz since 1995. // About me // Blog: http://www.webrocker.de/ // Illustration: http://www.wondertom.de/ // Webdesign: http://www.bnt.de.

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