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I finally managed to find some time and attend another conference within my field of work. I chose to go to Barcelona and attend the Smashingconf this week.

I think the conference struck a perfect balance of design and technology. It was engaging and I left it with a feeling of inspiration and motivation. I also got to meet some new friends from all corners of the world. I took notes during the talks to kind of summarize my experience.

Day 1, October 25th 2016

To Hell for Type – Marcin Wichary

  • There must be compromises, not loading a web font can be worth it for the performance.

Designing Meaningful Animation - Val Head

  • Use the 12 principles of animation.
  • CSS default transition timing keywords are very limiting, use cubic-bezier instead.
  • Similar objects should be animated in similar ways.
  • Create a sense of choreography.
  • Animation has the ability to create an impression of reduced load times.

Designing for Display - Jessica Svendsen

  • There are two types of designers in New York. Those who design systems and those who design content.
  • “Clarifying is our business, obscuring is our pleasure.”
  • “I’m always trying to turn things upside down to see if they look any better.”
  • The best jobs require the least amount of recruitment.
  • Only work with designers who have a point of view about design. And are willing to fight for it.
  • Be a generalist for as long as possible.
  • Avoid briefs or people who asks you to “make something beautiful.”
  • Someone will always be technically better than you. It’s your ideas that matter.
  • Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
  • Make sure what you’re making is meaningful.

How to Find What Design Factors Influence Conversion Rates - Tammy Everts

  • Performance changes peoples perception of your site.
  • The exact same website; a slower experience leads to huge negative impact.
  • Poor performance affects how people perceive your brand.
  • Conversion is just one part of the relationship with your customers.
  • It’s hard to draw a straight line from performance to your business.
  • Which metrics matter?
  • The web is the web. People don’t compartmentalize what kind of experience they get.
  • Most important metrics for Amazon is start render and repeat visits.
  • Direct traffic is more patient. Traffic through search is slightly less patient. Traffic coming from Facebook is highly likely to drop off if website is slow. Performance is perception.
  • Pages with more scripts are slightly less likely to convert.
  • The number of DOM elements matter a lot.
  • Sessions that convert has fewer images than those who don’t.
  • A two second improvement in median load time almost doubled conversion.
  • Every site and app is different.
  • Performance issues are unpredictable.
  • Even small design changes can make a big difference.

The Tail and its Dog - Stephen Hay

  • Start with storytelling before making the components it consists of.
  • Ask yourself, “What if?”
  • Try to use oblique strategies.
  • Ask yourself, “What problem does this solve?”
  • “How can we tell this story differently?”
  • Clients don’t understand components. Clients understand screens.
  • Zoom out to get the bigger picture.
  • We get too involved in the little bits.
  • Don’t forget the screen.
  • Let’s only talk about the problem. Sameness will disappear if we explore the problems.

How Testers Can Be a Liability for Your Team - Ulrika Malmgren

  • Testing is a bit like being a detective.
  • Everyone relaxes when a tester is on the team.
  • You don’t test quality in – you need to build it in.
  • Work on your communication.
  • How well you can trust your team members affect performance.
  • See testers as ambassadors for quality.

A Smashing Case Study - Sara Soueidan

  • Not only should the image be a good candidate for SVG, but SVG should also be a good candidate for the image.
  • Use object for SVG when it needs to have real text as fallback.
  • Referencing an SVG within inlined SVG for accessibility reasons since SVG code could bloat the markup.
  • When you’re using a div, you lose the relationship between elements in the document.
  • Markup is everything.
  • Think about it from a no-CSS perspective.
  • The web is accessible by default.
  • Give SVG’s a textual context by providing a title.
  • Don’t treat accessibility as an afterthought.
  • Test accessibility on a component level.

Resilience - Jeremy Keith

  • HTTP, URLs and HTML was the underlying principles for the WWW-project.
  • The fault tolerance of HTML is what allows it to grow.
  • JavaScript is the most fragile part of the stack.
  • Give yourself technical credit by creating a robust foundation and enhance from there.

Day 2, October 26th 2016

Predicting the Future - John Allsop

  • Be careful of what must change for your predictions to come true.
  • Native apps are a remnant of the Jurassic period of computer history, a local maximum that is holding us back.

Selling Design Systems - Laura Elizabeth

  • Style guides can be time consuming monsters so you’ll really want to make sure it’s going to be worth the investment.
  • Smaller teams doesn’t have the same need for a design system.
  • Design systems are only valuable if kept up to date.
  • If it’s working for you, don’t change your ways just because everyone else is doing it.
  • It’s pointless having a pattern library if nobody uses it.

Responsive Web Apps with Container Queries - Jonathan Snook

  • Designers see a feature through all platforms.
  • Goal #1 – Evolve the design. Goal #2 – Support multiple devices.
  • Can anybody within the team change features?
  • Each page can be art directed individually.
  • Web applications have components in multiple contexts needing to respond differently.
  • With container queries, you only have to know the interplay within a single object.
  • Allow anyone to make product-wide design changes quickly and easily.
  • Make the right things easy and the wrong things hard.

Real Art Direction on the Web - Jen Simmons

  • Art direction gives you a sense of what the experience will be.
  • Don’t make a framework out of CSS Grid.
  • CSS Grid is a framework - built directly into the browser.
  • CSS – That’s how you make your layout fast!
  • It works and it doesn't work at the same time. It’s quantum CSS.

Designing Choice - Adrian Zumbrunnen

  • The way we ask questions changes the answers we get.
  • The value of an option is defined by its surroundings.
  • Friction can improve design and make people more deliberate.

Conversion Rate Optimization Techniques in eCommerce - Christian Holst

  • 68.81% cart abandonment rate.
  • Top reason is that extra costs are too high.
  • Average sites have 39 basic checkout problems.
  • It’s not the number of steps in a checkout flow which has negative impact.
  • Most important is what users have to do and how they’re asked to do them.
  • Form fields matter more than steps.
  • 46% of checkout forms require a phone number.
  • 11.6% misinterpret a review step for an order receipt.
  • Can lead to permanent brand damage.
  • Have a second "Place Order" button at the top of the page.
  • 18.75% of all user accounts abandoned.

The Website Obesity Crisis - Maciej Ceglowski

  • “Kudos to Apple for the two middle fingers they always give to the web.”
  • Website obesity is a universal problem for online journalism.