My RefreshLx Review
Portugal is known for lots of good things, like great food and good weather, but not for its fair number of Web Design related events. Last Friday I attended one of the few that exists and that actually makes a difference.
After this first edition, RefreshLX is one of those events that no Web Designer will afford to loose (unless they can't afford it all, which is understandable these days). There's a real value into this kind of event where you gather great speakers with the crème de la crème of our own national web minds. Both the talks on stage or the chatting during coffee-breaks carry a fresh sense of up-to-date information, common concerns and personal curiosity. This creates the perfect excuse to stop working, take two steps back and rethink your whole attitude. I myself feel “refreshed” and wish to start it all over again with a better, more positive attitude. And that's really the whole point!
I tip my hat to Mr. Bruno Figueiredo for pulling it of once again. Like its predecessor UXLx, this event gets together an amazing group of speakers that represent the top notch of international and bigger events like An Event Apart. The very fact that one of these speakers is the organizer of that great event is telling of just how good this gets.
Pride and Honor
As some of you may know, I had the pleasure of recently hosting a small group of fine gentleman myself along with Paulo Zoom at ESAD. So I have to highlight that it was a big big honor to witness my name and the school’s name mentioned on stage as a positive mark of what’s being done in the teaching part of web design.
Having survived the post-conference heart-attack-enabler “francesinha” dinner, Mr. Simon Collison now reflected on what a design process should really be, bringing up the notion of cross-disciplinary experimentation which he witnessed at the school. In his talk about restraints and constraints he mentions the importance of delight and surprise while trying to define the role of complexity in our own process and result. He also left us with the notion of what design really is after all: a playground where you “just move stuff around until it looks good” – Milton Glaser
The topic of responsive web design was broadly approached as one would expect these days. It was presented in numerous perspectives by half of the speakers which have settled the notion of responsiveness as one of our top responsibilities, right next to writing standards compliant HTML.
- Mark Boulton presented us with a new canon, a path/process/system to design with. Start with "content > out" instead of "canvas > in" (which still feels a lot more like a graphic design approach). But he also quotes Myke Tyson saying that "Everybody's got a plan until you get punch in the face". So this made me think that we need to be responsive ourselves in our choices of tools and approaches.
- Ben Callahan presented us with an amazing exercise on retrofitting a web site to make it responsible in a cool live coding session.
- Sarah Parmenter showed us a great toolset (including Aptus, Gridsetapp and Voiceandtone.com) to use while building responsive projects. Should really make the process smoother.
- Scot Jehl showed us some very important concerns regarding performance on our websites while being served to mobile platforms and relying on data plans. Particularly a polyfill for images on responsive sites.
- Lastly on the responsive topic, the cool Josh Clark did one of my favorite presentations on stage and talked about The Myths of Mobile.
He explained what the web’s usage context is nowadays and why we shouldn't make too many assumptions on our users needs on a website. In fact he states that 40% of the web traffic on the US is now being channeled thought mobile devices. And one of the myths being dismissed shows that not all of this traffic happens while users are in a rush or commuting.
Apart from responsiveness all speakers brought equally interesting topics.
- The Standardistas talk could be summarize in one of my favorite sentences from the whole conference: “Type is clothing for words” and that’s why “you need to choose your type carefully”. I always love their process on choosing elements for a particular design.
- Tantek Çelik gave us an update on Microformats 2 and its role on our everyday projects.
- Jina Bolton’s talk was from the start one of the most interesting to me but I missed it while outside having a great talk with @colly, @imhugo, @ctlima, @anasofiapinho and @roberteerhart (which I was delighted to meet).
- Lastly, Mr. Zeldman (which I had the enormous pleasure of being introduced to) envisioned us into the end of web design and the beginning of a new era where we’ll need to embrace the fact that we no longer totally control the visual experience on the web. Change is entering our realm of design like a new tool to be explored and played with.
At the end, a great burst of energy filled our designer hearts as we moved away to rethink, re-invent and evolve the small pieces of the web that help build. I’m sure good things will come out of this meeting.
Hope I'll see you guys soon enough!!