Frontier Conference

Author: Gavin Filmer
Published: 22nd November 2016

Matt and I recently attended Frontier 2016 in London, a design and development conference celebrating the full spectrum of front-end. There were exciting talks throughout the day, varying from practical ideas that we can implement into our daily work to some real out-there concepts!

Aral Balkan started the day with a compelling and passionate talk about the use of digital data and the way that companies are “people farming”. Aral has a real passion for opening the eyes of people in our position and to create a safer, more honest web, with his talk including some alarming examples of companies exploiting data and the users of their sites. We also learnt about his development of tools to help us all use the web in a safer way, such as his site.

Richard Rutter followed the coffee break with another informative and inspiring talk on web typography. We’ve seen Richard at conferences before, and he always has some golden nuggets of information that can be put into practice on many projects. We also learnt about his new book that received a very successful response on Kickstarter, which we hope to get our hands on when it is released!

Zoe Gillenwater had mine and Matt’s undivided attention with a great talk and demonstration of flexbox, which is a CSS method for layouts, which we have been experimenting with recently. Zoe’s approach was very helpful, outlining the most appropriate uses and how to apply the code, which we will definitely be recapping on very soon as we start to roll this method out more across upcoming web projects.

John Summerton closed things up before lunch, with his talk on the beginnings of his business Sidetracked, which is a print and web based magazine born out of his love for travel and adventures. The magazine began as a web version and grew over the first editions, with a print version coming along a couple of years into the project. He shared some of his design decisions, how he applies the common 12-column web grid to the print layout too, and how/why his font choices differ between the web and print experiences.

We popped out to enjoy a cracking burger at Patty & Bun during lunch, whilst bumping into some fellow Brummy agency folk too!

Ben Foxall kicked off the afternoon talks with some live-coding using JavaScript. He really got the crowd engaged and involved everyone in his code as he controlled visuals and sound on our devices. It must have been a pretty terrifying experience for him as he stepped up in front of a room of coders to do a live code demo, but he succeeded and had everyone very interested!

Ross Chapman addressed many problems, goals and decisions involved in UX, which was quite reassuring for us, as he was covering many of the questions, tasks and thoughts that come into everyday working for us. He closed off with a few handy tips and tricks and a short Q&A session too.

Dean Taylor covered some interesting areas of common UI design, from the familiarities of everyday objects, to the ongoing quest for thought-free interfaces (including a funny and relevant reference to the good old push/pull signage on doors), with his regular quote being “don’t make me think” which seemed very appropriate to so many things he spoke of, but can sometimes be easily forgotten.

Ruth John closed the day with another exciting demonstration of visuals, this time using animation APIs, canvas and CSS to live animate along to audio. Her lively and interactive talk was a great way to finish the day and managed to keep us all very interested.

We enjoyed some beers at the bar of Code Node and bumped into more familiar faces, met some new people and got involved in table football and table tennis games too. A couple of guys from a fellow Birmingham agency invited us for pizza at Pizza East before boarding our train home.

Hats off to Adam, John and the rest of the team that put the day together. It was thoroughly interesting, very enjoyable and armed us with some great new ideas to put into practice!

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