My time at web directions respond 2017

Scott Rowe

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3 minute read

Another year, another Web Directions conference. This was my second trip to Melbourne for Respond in as many years. With a new year brings an entire years worth of new knowledge to instil in my brain, and a completely new line-up of industry experts to be inspired from.

Firstly, I'd like to recap on the past year, and how much of a direct impact going to Respond in 2016 had on the work I produced. Last year there were speakers whose talks were based around accessibility (this year even more so, which is fantastic), which really inspired me to think twice about the different types of user visiting a website. In the past year, we have worked on numerous government projects, all of which required a certain level of accessibility. These projects included Western Power, VenuesWest, Fremantle Prison & the Department of Transport's YourMove project to name a few.

So, 2017. What did this years conference have in store for me? Again, accessibility was a key focus. Every speaker at least referenced the importance of accessibility in their talks. There were also some very informative talks on accessibility itself, which I find fascinating as they always throw a curve ball at you when you thought you knew it all.

Vitaly Friedman, co-founder of Smashing Magazine

Vitaly Friedman, co-founder of Smashing Magazine.

Day one

To kick things off, Vitaly Friedman, co-founder of Smashing Magazine, set the tone for the day with a tongue in cheek talk on 'New adventures in responsive web design' using a retro game feel to his slides. It was a great talk with real world problems, and plenty of code snippets to take home.

Day one included talks on design systems and how big brands use them, more brilliant and inspiring accessibility talks with plenty of real world examples. There were also talks on typography, how we can use it in a fluid way on the web and some cool text effects we can achieve using only CSS.

Day one concluded with two talks, one based on SVG animation from Brett Snaidero, and the other a more broader talk on animation on the web from Rachel Nabors, who is part of the Microsoft Edge platform team. These talks have been particularly useful recently with a couple of projects I have worked on at Equilibrium.

Day two

Day two started off with Cordelia McGee-Tubb from Dropbox doing her best Mary Berry impressions in her talk 'The great accessibility bake off'. I loved how she explained the importance of 'baking accessibility in from the start' using muffin metaphors. All this talk of baking was making everyone in the room (me included) a bit hungry, the morning break couldn't have come at a better time.

There were talks on various subjects throughout day two, another humorous talk was from Wayne Thompson and how he had to design a typeface for the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). The brief was to design a typeface for Australia. He had the room laughing with some of the Australian slang words they had come up with when brainstorming ideas. Some favourites were 'Yair nah', 'Maaaate' and 'Kangawallathump'. I still have no idea what that last one means.

Donald Trump - 'The orange one'

To sign off on what had been a great two days, was a talk from Mina Markham. She was tasked with creating a design system for use on any website that had to be created for Hilary Clinton's election campaign against Donald Trump. Side note, I don't think she ever referenced him as Donald Trump. I think 'The Orange One' were her choice of words. Her words not mine. She had a great realisation when creating this design system, and raised a far too common issue when a design system isn't in place. Button Phở, or soup if you will. This is the accumulation of many different button styles being used across a website.

Wrap up

All in all, another great conference by the guys at Web Directions. Unfortunately this was to be the last Respond conference as they are re-structuring their conference offering to align with the ever changing industry we are in.