Yesterday I took the very substantial journey from Oxford all the way down to Brighton to attend the second Points Brighton mini-conference. I missed the previous one but after this time building the website for the event I decided I could not possibly miss out on it a second time round. Points boasted a diverse line-up of speakers and topics, and at only £5 per ticket with all proceeds going to the fantastic charity Tia’s Trees it was more than worthwhile.
The venue was The Skiff a small co-working and meeting space in central Brighton, we took up a small area towards the back of the venue and despite it’s size the limited number of people kept it comfortably busy without feeling like we were squashed in like sardines in a tin.
The first speaker up was Amber Weinberg talking about mobile development; Amber was a late replacement for Paul Mist who couldn’t make it due to illness. Amber’s talk looked at how mobile development needs to be more seriously considered now and covered the various routes you could take to tackle such a wide range of devices and viewports; she then took us through a couple of case studies of her recent work, which I enjoyed. Amber also spoke about how she feels mobile-first development is quite possibly a bad choice in that she is normally served with only desktop based designs and has to work with the design herself to produce the mobile versions. I kind of agree with her on this point but there are some things I would like to add to her approach, but I’ll save that for another post…
The next speaker was James Seymour-Lock with a talk on achieving your clients goals. I’m working with clients on a day to day basis and have been recently inspired by Paul Boag’s book and podcast on the subject of client centric design so was particularly interested in seeing James’ talk. James spoke about more carefully defining the clients goals as invariably the client has too many things they want their website to achieve (or too few in my experience) and focusing them on the main objectives. And also building a relationship with the client and getting to know their personality, how many of us can say that our client has ever challenged us to handstand competition over Skype!?
The third speaker of the night was Krystian Szastok, and a hush came over the room as he introduced his talk about SEO and in particular the principle of factor sparsity or the 80/20 rule. Now I think this was one of the hidden gems of the night, for what at first could seem a fairly dull subject to most Krystian proceeded to make into an interesting talk covering the real aspects of good SEO. The 80/20 rule was first applied to off and on site SEO, 80% of your search ranking is made up from the actual popularity of your site, so off-site links and directory listings are important. Of the 20% on site optimisation, content is key, if your website is about Oxfordshire Web Development, those 3 words need to appear in the content! Krystian also covered things like good HTML Titles, meta descriptions (not necessarily unique to each page but if possible this should be the case) and good alt tags for images (something like image1.jpg just doesn’t cut it).
The final talk by David Pomfret was on the subject of typography. Now this is a bit of a hard subject for me as I’m pants at it (this site was a perfect example of that) so I was keen to hear what he had to say. David talked about the three main points when working with type – well the three main points that can fit into a 20 minute talk anyway – these were chose, use, and love. The main focus was on choosing the right type for the job, making sure it reflects the right personality, is readable (at all sizes), and contains everything you need (glyphs, drop caps, punctuation etc). When using your typography David went on to say focus again on readability, using a good baseline to provide solid structure and working with a grid-system to produce a solid layout will all aid the typography you’ve chosen. And finally love typography, look at print – where it all started – and take inspiration from how they used typography to the fullest.
Overall Points Brighton was a fantastic event, it was well curated, in a suitable venue and provided not only fantastic talks but a really relaxed atmosphere to be able to talk with like-minded individuals over a beer (which were free thanks to some fantastic sponsors). Not forgetting the fantastic raffle with a ton of prizes donated by some more very kind sponsors which consisted of books and t-shirts, with the grand prize of the stunning full set of A Book Apart books. All proceeds from the tickets and the raffle went toward the charity Tia’s Trees and I think in the night Mike mentioned we had raised over £300! Very much looking forward to the next one, and sooner rather than later please!