In April, hundreds of developers from all over the world met in San Francisco for a multi-day conference on all things Front-End Dev. This was my first Smashing Conference, and I certainly came home with a lot of enthusiasm about the new web technologies discussed.

The main theme of the conference was “no slides,” as in all the coding was done live, by the presenters. This allowed us to dig into real-life workflows and the thought processes behind certain techniques. It was a great learning experience to follow along as the presenters would troubleshoot in real-time.

During the four-day conference, there were more than 10 presentations and multiple workshops to choose from with topics ranging from accessibility, Git and debugging in the browser.

Here are a few of the standouts:

Dan Senneff is an animation rock star. The main takeaway from his presentation was that animations don’t just make your website or application look cool. They also help a user comprehend relevant information, improve their experience and lead to more successful interactions.

Jason Pamental presented on dynamic web typography. He said variable fonts will usher in an exciting change in how we deliver amazing typography. They allow us to use multiple weights and styles by linking only one font file instead of one for each variation. What’s more, load times will speed up tremendously and using variable web fonts in conjunction with other typographic techniques, such as fluid sizing, greatly improves a user’s experience.

Artist Brendan Dawes shared his unique, playful approach with his work, The Happiness Machine and The Art of Cybersecurity. He inspired me with his ability to create art while using new tech and computing algorithms.

Brad Frost spoke about design systems, their value and use cases. These resources can provide an organization with a shared vocabulary for consistent UI, making production faster and scalable.

A big topic throughout the conference was CSS Grid. Jen Simmons from Mozilla, quickly mocked up a design using the powerful layout system. I think it will revolutionize how we create fresh, dynamic digital layouts in CSS without having to rely on bulky frameworks like Bootstrap.

Lastly, Vitaly Friedman held a full-day workshop on UX patterns. We dove into multiple examples of patterns and explored how to improve interactions for our users.

I walked away with a deep understanding that UX shouldn’t just be about how we code or design a call-to-action button. UX involves research, storytelling and testing. And, just because it’s a “pattern,” doesn’t mean that it has to be the same-old-boring interface. With a little thought, we can come up with fresh ideas that engage—and wow—users.

Want to hear more about how to take your UX to the next level? Reach out to us. 

UX shouldn’t just be about how we code or design a call-to-action button.

About the Author

Pablo Colomban

Creative Technologist

Pablo finds the perfect way to blend his design background and tech nerdiness at 90octane. From concepting through development, he loves all things UX/UI.