Breaking Development Wrap-Up

Honestly, I needed a few days to process the Breaking Development conference so I’m about ready to write something now.

Firstly some comments about the conference in general:

  • Single stream conferences rock! I’ve been to a few multithreaded conference and always struggle to find the right sessions to attend. I always seem to miss the one session everyone else thinks was the best… but with a single thread you know you’re gonna see it.
  • The quality of presenters and their actual presentations were great. Great slides, great speakers, great topics – all meant that everything was polished and shiny. I think it should be mandatory for swearing and mythical animals to be part of any conference presentation 🙂
  • Ideas VS tech – I actually think that there was a good balance of ideas and technical information. Nothing mind blowingly technical but a balance that didn’t let either get in the way.

The Gaylord Texan was a great venue and if you visit eat at Zeppole – try the risotto with duck, it was amazing!

There were way too many good ideas and amazing examples of the mobile web but here are a few of my take home messages:
  1. Pare it back – strip away the bloat and pixel crack (great new term) down to the core functionality. You loose 80% of the screen – you need to seriously contemplate getting rid of 80% of the information on the screen.
  2. UX – mobile is personal. It’s a personal device, you carry it everywhere, it’s interacted through the hands, you physically manipulate content – therefore the content and it’s delivery needs to show the same focus on the user their needs in your app/site.
  3. Opportunities – a mobile device has access to more personal and environmental information than any desktop or laptop ever has. With its GPS, camera, compass, accelerometers – they define the user environment and open up new opportunities to tailor and customize the UX and the content delivered. Augmented reality is just content in its physical context – it not a site where you read it’s information detached from the environment.
  4. Don’t Read Minds (or pretend you can) – This was a great point about avoiding those “I think” statements as the mobile web is new, it’s not an excuse to bypass usability and user testing – or actually doing some leg work to support you mobile site ideas. As they say – “Presumption is the brother of all f*ck ups… I mean mother of all f*ck ups”. To me this meant taking an iterative approach – building and modifying to your users and not thinking you have all the answers first time round.
  5. We need to make richer content instead of richer containers – Stephanie Riegers presentation really hammered the idea home about content and I think she summed it up so well there’s not much more I can possibly add.
Side Note: There was one thing that kinda bugged me throughout the conference:
  • The taxonomy was a big thing. The differences between web sites displaying the content of the web and the use of the web to enable applications and interaction really needs to be defined. There was definitely a big blurry line between the two and a lot of debate stemming from the lack of a clear divide. I know in some cases there are things that don’t fit into either camps or combines elements of the two but I think there is a need for distinction between ‘sites’ and ‘apps’. Technically they are very different beasts and I think that’s why we see the big debate around web vs native – because we’re not talking about the same things. Mobile Web is a big concept and a little differentiation would go a long way!
Thanks to the organisers, all the presenters and all the great people I got to meet. Best of luck with your mobile futures.
A big shout out to Brad Frost for putting up his notes if you want a bigger overview of the conference – – he’s even linked to the slides so you can see them too. What a guy!

By Tim Klapdor

Passionate about good design, motivated by the power of media and enchanted by the opportunities of technology.

4 replies on “Breaking Development Wrap-Up”

+1 on the taxonomy thing.

Also there are tribes here: designers/developers, document people/app people, mobile people/web people… and quite a few of the debates arise simply from people looking at the whole thing from different starting points, and trying how to affix their own previous work or assumptions to the same problem.

Probably a good thing though!

I definitely think the lack of one “mobile web” definition is a great thing. With so many different disciplines/approaches/applications of the mobile web its full potential can be realized.

The trick is to figure out where all these approaches overlap in order to move the whole thing forward.

Also, thanks for the shout-out!

Thanks for the comments guys. I know the taxonomy thing is a sticking point, but I’m of the opinion that clarity will really help us move forward and avoid some of the tomato/tomato debates.

I think that there is a fundamental difference between a site and an app – which can still come under that banner of the one “mobile web”- but recognises that the function and the architecture are different. There will be overlap – but its more about the recognition that they are different and should be used differently, not shoehorned into something that doesn’t really fit. I think we need to get away from this cookie cutter mentality and design apps and sites that fit the content, the user and the device – not specifically centred on one element or another.

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