On the 17th and 18th of March, I was lucky enough to attend the Smashing Conference held in the Town Hall, in the heart of the city of Oxford - a really great choice of venue.
The conference was aimed at web designers and developers and was sold out with 400 guests in attendance. There was a really friendly atmosphere amongst the attendees and I enjoyed having conversations with like-minded people throughout the two days.
I was initially surprised at the number of guests that had travelled from abroad but as the conference progressed I could see how much information and how many ideas I was taking away with me and why so many others attend year after year.
As a whole, the conference exceeded others that I have attended previously because of the varied selection of speakers. It was nice to hear from people who aren’t just developers telling you about the latest craze or the most modern technology that we “should” be using in our day to day jobs. Don’t get me wrong - I like those geeky talks too but it was nice to hear from people looking at design and development from a different perspective.
All of the talks over the two days were really informative and really got me thinking about how these ideas and new technologies could be incorporated into the work we do here at mso.
Here’s a quick summary of some of the talks which stood out for me over the 2 days:
Chris Murphy (@fehler) an educator from Belfast. He gave a really inspiring talk highlighting the fact that we should be reading more and learning new skills which will help us develop in our roles as web designers and developers. He explained that we don’t have to learn something that necessarily relates to our industry, but by knowing more “stuff” we can improve our ability to come up with new ideas.
Meagan Fisher (@owltastic) the creative director of sproutvideo reinforced the fact that sometimes as designers and developers we get lost in what “WE” think looks nice and what “WE” think looks best. She explained that we should be concentrating on the end user, the people who will be using the website or application. If we don’t know what the end users want then we should be researching or asking those users. Maegan’s talk was nicely summarised by her saying that by considering the end user’s wants, and designing and building a product for their needs, it gives our work purpose.
Polle de Maagt (@Polledemaagt) is a creative advertising consultant from Holland. He delivered his talk with a personal approach, showing us a photo of his wife and baby. The main subject was that sometimes in our jobs we need to be more brave and not necessarily do what’s expected. He gave us a brilliant example of an advertising campaign which he was responsible for at KLM airlines. They looked at the processes which were slow and frustrating for passengers and tried to work out how they could make these processes better. One of these processes was the time it took to return lost property from planes.
The KLM advertising campaign is below:
It probably isn’t feasible to have dogs return lost property to passengers but I personally thought it was a brilliant advert and definitely follows Polle de Maagt’ sentiment.
These are just a few of my personal favourite talks from the smashing conference but I can honestly say that I took something away with me from all of the speakers.