Handheld Conference – Part II.
This time last week I was at Handheld Conference in Cardiff, Wales. If you didn’t see what I wrote on Friday, or just want to catch-up, have a read of Part I. It was a long day, but thankfully we got to grab some lunch mid-way through. Bellies stuffed, we headed back in… Kevin Mears, in-house front-end developer for the University of Glamorgan, presented one of my favourite portions of the day. Using his own entertaining doodles, Kevin discussed the trials and tribulations of catering for a varied audience on a variety of devices, and transforming an existing desktop website into something responsive. Kevin’s slides are online for you to take a look at. NB – I haven’t covered all the presenters at Handheld in these posts, otherwise I could go on all day. Rest assured though, everyone was worth listening to, and I’d urge everyone to take a look at the videos when they’re released! Andrew Spooner has a silly job title and works at Microsoft, playing with their new toys and tech months (sometimes years) before the public sees it. In a talk entitled We, Human, Andrew talked about the humanity in computing and technology, how sometimes we can lose our own and how we should sometimes treat a machine like it is human. He also showed us a fridge with internet capabilities, a Twitter-controlled bubble-machine and a talking toaster. Neat! Freelance designer Laura Kalbag implored us to “Stop thinking about specific devices; who knows what will come out tomorrow“, as she passionately took us through her own design process. As a lovely aside, Laura’s slides were mostly made up of icons – one member of the audience later revealed he was colour-blind, and that her slides were the most readable. Laura encouraged us to remain consistent when designing and developing responsive websites – both in appearance as well as content; she explained that trimming your content for a “mobile” version and guessing that your user is on the move is a poor assumption which may give them a poor user experience. The day was closed by Aral Balkan, just as the last dregs of daylight left the Bay. Through a series of unusual anecdotes, Aral pushed the importance not just creating great design, but of creating great experiences. I’ve seen video of Aral’s talks in the past and he was as enthusiastic and passionate as always as he took us through his talk, A happy grain of sand. He likened good design to the way he felt his parents were superhuman as a child – his Superman Effect. An well-designed interface shouldn’t have to tell us what to do – like a washing machine or ticket machine does – the way it works should be obvious, natural and allow us to use our instincts.These are the user experiences that leave us happy and make us feel superhuman. After all, to paraphrase Aral, life is made up of thousands of experiences, big and small; we should be doing what we can to add another happy experience into the lives of our users and our clients, no matter how small it may be. Handheld Conference was another happy grain of sand.