I think leading up to this one, it felt different to me. We’d managed to pull off three of these gigs and both from the positive feedback we’d had and the fact that we knew most of the audience at this one, Manchester’s gig was bound to be different. We also crammed in four speakers because we’d invited up Remy Sharp up from Brighton as our special guest as the only non-Northerner on the tour.
There were a few last minute issues around what cables we had and getting everything up and running but come kick-off we’d got everything in place and NoHo had begun to fill up. It’s always been tough with working out numbers for these different venues – although their capacity is often more that we’ve allowed, we didn’t want it to be too crowded – although there was seating, there wasn’t enough for everyone (or perhaps we would have had to allow less people in to make it so). Every venue has it’s challenges when they’re not geared up for such things and perhaps the lighting was the downside in this one.
Hopefully we’d made it clear that this was a very DIY, rough and ready kind of set-up so people might not’ve been too surprised that we’d got the projector nestle atop a tall step ladder (masqueraded by one of our standee banners). We’d also been very keen to get a balance between people that had spoken on the web circuit along with people that hadn’t – or that had never spoken before.
Ben Childs was first up talking about the complexities of mobile platforms, the difficulties of natives apps, how Apple has changed the traditional operator controlled model and how we can provide good levels of mobile web experiences to our sites. I think he did really we communicating his experiences from his days at Orange along with what they do at Common Agency and it certainly must’ve been intimidating for him to be first on with an expectant audience in front of him in this strange context.
“The Hodge is a ledge” was posted out on Twitter for a reason; you don’t get something polished and perfect with Dom, you get something better – something real with his sessions. Today we ventured through SEO tricks good & bad, misconceptions, mistakes and great Twitters stories. Highly entertaining and very engaging, we were really pleased to have him on board!
During the break we had Gavin from DIBI, not only venturing all the way down from Newcastle again but really unwell. Again, generous with the t-shirts and a free ticket to their conference – we appreciated his and Ellie’s efforts coming down to spread the word about DIBI – that’s dedication people! We had the last of our donated books from O’Reilly, No Starch & Paul Boag to give away – hope the winners get a lot our of them!
Not only had Andy Clarke headlined our Leeds gig the week before, then visited our one in Liverpool as a member of the audience but also rounded out our line-up tonight, on our home turf. He’d incited heckling on Twitter and he had a few hecklers! On great form, he walked us through what he means by Hard Boiled web design, which is the subject of his next book and the theme he’ll be working through various talks through the year with this chapter called ‘I, the Jury’. It’s great to see him at work – a natural performer and he made a persuasive argument for going beyond graceful degredation and effectively being less graceful but appropriate with how we cater for less able browsers. His ‘universal IE6′ stylesheet would get people muttering as this effectively serves a plain text version of a site to IE6 but the premise is sound: design for the most able browsers first, then find an appropriate display for those less able.
It’s been a whirlwind fortnight for us to get these all done and quite fitting to finish on home turf. We’re really grateful to all that attended, tweeted and generally supported us in making these happen. It’s certainly shown that there is demand for this kind of thing in the North, there is a wealth of talent around us and that we can make it happen up here ourselves!
Dan & Rich