Notes from Generate Conference London

After spending a day in London running my Advanced Shopify Theme Development workshop, followed by a short talk on growing an eCommerce business at General Assembly, I was lucky enough to head over to the London edition of the Generate Conference.

These are my short summaries of some of the most memorable talks (primarily for my own benefit, but you may find it useful to get a taste of the conference).

John Allsopp: The Web and Flow of Things

The author of the classic post “A Dao of Web Design” delivered a talk on the history of the web and how it’s developed in juxtaposition to contemporary technologies, including most recently native mobile applications.

Takeaway: The web won’t necessarily have “feature parity” with the things it’s compared to, whether’s that a piece of paper or a native application. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – the differences should be embraced and leveraged.

Rachel Andrew: Introducing CSS Grid Layout

The founder at Edge of My Seat Software (creators of Perch) gave a detailed walkthrough of the new CSS Grid Level 1 Specification.

Takeaway: The new specification looks to solve a lot of long-standing layout issues with web design. When it lands in browsers, there’s going to be a pretty rapid adoption curve.

Phil Hawksworth: Static Sites Go All Hollywood

Project manager at R/GA, Phil gave an overview of the advantages of delivering sites statically, along with a number of tools and patterns to make that possible.

Takeaway: Static sites are increasingly popular and there are number of tools that make generation and deployment of them a cinch, even for projects where clients need to be able to manage content through an external admin.

Verne Ho: The Design Practice

The Director of Design at Shopify spoke about how to build a design team that produces high-quality design work in a consistent manner.

Takeaway: There’s a team size (~10) beyond which “show up and get stuff done” stops working. At that point, there are some concrete processes you can progressively implement to maintain productivity and quality.

Michael Flarup: Design Better App Icons

Danish designer from Robocat, Michael gave a really entertaining talk about the things to consider when designing icons for mobile application marketplaces.

Takeaway: The five things you need to consider are scalability, consistency, uniqueness, something I can’t recall right now, and avoiding using words.

Sarah Richards: Content Strategy Isn’t Just For Content People

Sarah is a content strategist who’s worked on some major site overhauls, including many sites for the UK Government. This talk was an great walkthrough of some of her experiences on that project and the strategies her team used to make stereotypically dense government sites more user friendly.

Takeaway: It doesn’t matter if you’re the UK Government, you need to think of things in your users’ terms – even if that means using the phrase “green poo” instead of “green stool”.

Dan Goodwin: The UX Of Things

User Experience director from fffunction, Dan gave a talk that explored the idea of the “user experience” as it related to physical products, and how that could be related to user experiences in the digital domain.

Takeaway: No matter what you’re working on (whether it’s physical or digital), it’s really important to think about how users experience your product and empathise with them.