Smashing Conference Roundup: Oxford 2015

Smashing Conference roundup: books, tools, photos from Oxford 2015


I attended Smashing Conference, an event for web designers and developers. Here’s a roundup with tools, tweets, quotes, links and slides.

Marked with #mustwatch are the talks that have been of the most interest for me personally. The videos of these talks should be available soon enough, and I will update this post with the links when they are released.

My early morning in Oxfordshire (got up at 4am to get there by 7:30 from London).

Early morning in Oxford


Read a lot to write better.
Crowdfunding and flexible pricing for publishers.
Users will use your app “wrong”, use the tools to see how.
Dispel your mistaken assumptions.
Solve real human problems.
Do the hard work to make it simple.
Use srcset for optimisation and picture element for art direction.
Web or native — try hybrid apps.
Everyone should have a different favourite browser, because web standards.
Debug HTTP and SSL with the tools.
Use flexbox in production right now — progressive enhancement (watch this video to learn how).
Make web apps work offline. Service workers!

Links & Tools — usability testing — collect data about how users interact with your site – usability materials — detailed page speed testing — REST API analysis for Mac, starting at $29.99 — API debugging — a debugger for RESTful web services —web debugging proxy for any browser, system or platform – a simple command line tool for allowing outside access to your local-environment – enables a developer to view all of the HTTP and SSL / HTTPS traffic between their machine and the Internet — framework for building hybrid apps (desktop applications in node.js) — Javascript memory management masterclass by Addy Osmani — Keynote and PowerPoint UI design templates for everyone, not just designers — Useful for pen and paper wire-framing – edit and optimise SVG’s, example for talk on service workers

Recommended Books




Christopher Murphy — “A Good Writer Is a Good Thinker”

@fehler | A writer, designer and educator. Publisher of @readtinybooks and @getglyph.
Slides: Dropbox

How to read better. Enhance your writing by improving your reading skills and developing a richer mind.

Meagan Fisher — “Getting Personal: The Why and How of Designing for People”

@owltastic | web designer, lover of owls
Slides: Dropbox

Sketch by @richwells

Seeing things with your users’ eyes (and all the other means of perception) as a natural part of your workflow.

  • Ask questions to understand context.
  • Listen for unmet needs and goals.
  • Observe frustrations and successes.
  • Dispel your mistaken assumptions.

Richard Rutter “Don’t give them what they want, give them what they need”

@clagnut | UX designer & web typography evangelist. Co-founder @Fontdeck & @Clearleft.
Slides: Dropbox

Great talk from perspective of designers and developers who worked on re-structuring and re-designing (i.e. making simpler and faster) the website of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (

Btw, do you know why Chelsea mansions are sooo expensive? :) Partly because of this:

Chelsea house plan

The tips are:

  • Continually design with data, anticipate needs.
  • Do the hard work to make it simple.
  • Reduce, reduce, reduce again.
  • Be consistent.
  • User task is first, our message is last.
  • Don’t repeat effort.

Yoav Weiss “Responsive images are here”

@yoavweiss | browser tinkerer, WebPerf freak, RICG implementer

Hilarious, educational talk about responsive images, picture element and srcset. And previous version of this talk (from Smashing Conf 2014 Whistler) is already on vimeo.


Peter Bilak “Rethinking publishing”

@PeterBilak | designer @typotheque, publisher @WorksThatWork
Slides: Dropbox

New approaches to publishing.

Natalie Yadrentseva “Visualisation that takes us beyond the numbers”

@natalieyadren | Data Visualization. Product Specialist. Agile.
Slides: Dropbox

Data visualisation is a whole world. I had to miss part of this talk, but it surely was thorough. Reminded me of this :)

Tom Giannattasio — “Beyond the browser with hybrid apps”

@attasi | The creator of Macaw

Sketch by Elisabeth Irgens ‏— @elisabethirg

Bruce Lawson “Is Blink the new IE6?”

@brucel | Opera Software. UK Web standards lovegod. Co-wrote Introducing HTML5.


And the best slide of the conference goes to

Service Workers

Chris Heilmann “Welcome to Planet Fintlewoodlewix”

@codepo8 | developer evangelist – all things open web
Slides: Dropbox

The most enjoyable mystery speaker! Great talk, slides and the followup discussion.


Zoe M. Gillenwater “Enhancing Responsiveness with Flexbox”

@zomigi | Author of books Stunning CSS3 & Flexible Web Design. UX Designer at

Deep flexbox talk with production code examples. Enjoyed it. There’s a great followup blog post in Zoe’s blog:

Video of the talk:


Lorna Mitchell — “Debugging HTTP”

@lornajane | PHP and API specialist dev/consultant, book author

Sketch: Lorna Jane — Smashing Conference

This was interesting. Lorna introduced many useful tools have been mentioned (HTTP related links in the beginning of the post).

Stages of debugging – Denial – Frustration – Disbelief – Testing (curious stage) – Gotcha


Paul Lewis — “Making a Silky Smooth Web” | Googler who noodles with code and design, helps people fix performance, UX and UI issues.
Slides: Website:

Slide text: We can do better

Great talk on performance. Also, check out this super smooth website:


Polle de Maagt — “Crafting for #WORLDDOMINATION”

@polledemaagt | Changes companies like IKEA and KLM to be less about ads and more about acts
Slides: (to be updated)

Rachel Ilan Simpson — “User reach for designers & engineers”

@rilan | UX Designer on @googlechrome #MakeMunich cofounder & Head of
Slides: (to be updated) “User research is going to change what you make and how you make it.”

– What users are thinking?
– What is this?
– Do I trust you?
– What are you offering me?
– How do I get it?

Didn’t expect another talk on user research to be so engaging. Lots of user research tools mentioned. And this awesome animation.


Jake Archibald — “The UX of offline-first”

@jaffathecake | Developer advocate at Google.
Slides: (to be updated)

Great talk and the followup discussion. Will update this post with a video link as soon as it’s available. Check back in a couple of weeks maybe.



Photos from Smashing Conf Oxford 2015 gallery by Marc Thiele:

Markus … erhm Umbrella, I mean


Smashing sketches by Elisabeth Irgens:

Follow me on twitter to get updates.


Chrome Extensions for Web Design and Development

UPD: The list is now forkable on github.

Originally I’ve posted an article called “Chrome Extensions I can’t live without” a few months ago. Later on I kept updating it with more and more extensions that I found useful – mainly in the “webdev and design” category. Today I’m extending it again and moving this list to a separate article for flexibility and convenience. Here is the list of design/webdev only extensions that I use in the work process.

Read more