Posted 20th May 2015 | By Andy Taylor, Studio Manager

Way back in March I visited the picturesque city of Oxford to attend Smashing Magazine’s aptly named Smashing Conference. For those that don’t know it is a two-day event aimed at helping developers and designers to become better at what we do.

I arrived in Oxford with great expectations; the Smashing Magazine website is a popular resource for developers and designers and the event is always a sell out. I was lucky to get a ticket!

The talks that were planned for the conference covered a wide range of topics, some of which at first glance I thought would not be of interest.
I particularly thought this with the first talk - “A God Writer Is A Good Thinker”. How wrong I could be! Although this talk was not technical, it did open my eyes as to how I view things. In his talk, Christopher Murphy spoke about widening your frame of reference and being interested in more than just information to do with your job role. A great opener, as I then approached every talk thinking that there could be valuable lessons to be learned, regardless of its subject.

Another talk I really enjoyed was by Chris Heilman, a developer evangelist who currently works for Microsoft. He spoke about how complex making websites has become and that we need to just simplify them.
Like most things in life when something new comes out we all want it because it’s exciting and edgy, this is the same for when there are advances in HTML and CSS. We as developers and designers become too concerned with pushing the boundaries of what is capable that we forget what the web is really for – providing and sharing information. We should focus on making sure we are doing that great before coming up with new things that the end user might not even want anyway.

There were lots of other interesting talks, too many to mention now. But ones I particularly found interesting were “Making A Silky Smooth Web” by Paul Lewis and “Enhancing Responsiveness With Flexbox” by Zoe Gillenwater.
These stood out to me because they offered me new ideas on how I can improve the websites I build for ExtraMile, both visually and performance wise.

As well as the conference I also attended an all day workshop delivered by Vitaly Friedman, founder of Smashing Magazine. Through out the course of the day he shared a variety of tips and tricks that we could put in to practice to help us build better websites. He made some extremely useful points on performance and shared the techniques used to make Smashing Magazine load on devices using a 3G connection in less than 1 second. Some feat for a content heavy website.

The experience I had at Smashing Conference ’15 was fantastic. It was an fun three days of learning new things, meeting new people and visiting new places. To any developers reading this I definitely recommend getting a ticket for next years conference, you’ll make work decisions.

Written by Andy Taylor, Web Developer at ExtraMile Communications.

At ExtraMile we try to take an hour out each week to look around us at what others do and to gain inspiration and to admire people's creativity. Each post in this series is one staff member's take on the world of web, design and things online. We hope you enjoy it.

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