Jack Barber / Website Design

DIBI 2013

Last week I travelled up to Newcastle for DIBI 2013.  I was looking forward to taking on some new ideas, especially in Monday's workshop on 'Designing for Mobile First' run by @htmlboy and @martuishere, and listening to some great speakers throughout Tuesday's main event.

I've been building more and more 'responsive' websites recently - almost all the new sites I create now offer some element of responsive design, ensuring they provide a good user experience regardless of screen size, but I'm yet to start building sites for mobile first.  This goes against what web designers have been doing for so long.  Designing for small screens first and considering larger screens second is turning most of how we design on its head.  However, as more and more web browsing is done on mobile devices it's going to become a far more widely used technique over the coming months and years, and something I'm going to be beginning to implement on appropriate projects.

The workshop gave a great opportunity to take some really useful hints and tips from two excellent and experienced designers from Spain and apply it to a 'real life' project, working in small groups throughout the afternoon.

Fantastic view of the Millenium Bridge from our hotel room (left). Dan Rubin talking about 'Why We Do What We Do' at the opening of DIBI 2013 (right).

Why we do what we do

The main conference event ran throughout the day on Tuesday, beginning with some thoughts from @danrubin on the topic 'Why we do what we do'.  I suppose the main point of his talk was putting across the idea that really successful companies can be built by focussing on client satisfaction first - not profit.

If building a business around providing excellent client satisfaction and providing innovative and exciting solutions is our aim, profit will generally follow - and we've all got bills to pay.

Companies which put treat profit as a by-product of customer satisfaction keep doing well.

Where we stayed

Megan (my wife) travelled with me for this conference and enjoyed a couple of days siteseeing around Newcastle.  We stayed in Malmaison, really close to the Baltic so it was easy for me to get to and from the conference, and it was a delight to wake up and enjoy the view of the morning sun lighting up the Tyne.  We'd highly recommend it!

View of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art across the Tyne

Proud to be part of the 99%

I stayed on the design track of DIBI this year, as from the wide range of design and development orientated talks the design track seemed most appealing and interesting.  In the afternoon, Marta Armada spoke on responsive design.

Apparently Twitter Bootstrap (a framework for responsive website designs) now powers 1% of the internet, resulting in loads of sites which all look fairly similar, especially in terms of layout.  Marta encouraged designers to create their own frameworks, which can be really useful for quickly getting started on a project, but not to rely on bloated third-party frameworks, most of which go unused.

Marta Armada talking about designing around the content and 'mobile first'. Also, Twitter Bootstrap now powers 1% of the internet - resulting in loads of sites which all look strikingly similar.

The Sage, just next door to the Baltic.

Indie Data

Aral Balkan (@aral) closed the event with his talk on indie data.  There's been a lot in the news lately about companies providing back-door entrance to national security organisations such as the NSA and GCHQ, and in same case, web security being entirely circumvented by these covert organisations.  Our data is 'owned' by the organisations we choose to side with.  Whether it be Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook or someone else, so much of our 'digital self' is locked into a certain ecosystem.

Aral looks forward to a time when open technology, that which can be owned, operated, improved by it's users can compete in both function, and more importantly, form with today's big players.  A time when the hardware we own and use on a daily basis is both open and well designed and built, and the software which powers our digital lives provides a well thought out and coherent experience as well as being secure and accountable to us, the users, not to the faceless corporations and government departments.

Aral Balkan talking about privacy and 'owning our own data' in the closing keynote.

Well done DIBI

All in all it was a great couple of days.  Loads to think about, improvements to make in the way I run my business and in the work I produce. 

The main difficulty I find with running a 1 man web design/development agency is keeping up to date with the latest tools and techniques, and it's events like DIBI which give me the insight into other's work - the chance to see that what I create is actually OK and inline with my peers, that keep my 'imposter syndrome' to a minimum and give me the enthusiasm to keep learning, keep building and keep working to produce designs which meet and exceed the expectations of my clients.