Well, the promise of the day was fulfilled – most sessions today were much more in line with what I was expecting – and that meant lots of great information and ideas.
Eric Meyer did an excellent presentation today demonstrating the business case for, and power of, using CSS for prototyping designs. I really wish I had have seen that presentation before we embarked on the redesign of the WWF-Australia site (still in progress) as a lot of the issues the technique addresses have come up for us. I’m seriously considering using the technique for some further refinements that we have in mind, but I’ll have to see how time goes and work out if it’s going to be the right thing for us right now. I’ll almost certainly be using it for the next design I need to work on.
One of the highlights of today was Derek Featherstone’s presentation on accessibility. For me accessibility has been one of the many benefits that I keep in mind when using CSS, but for the most part has been a bit of a grey area for me. It’s been a goal, but the benefits have been rather abstract. While watching Derek demonstrate there were lots of little light-bulbs going off in my head that pulled some things together. It also highlighted some misconceptions I had about reading software support among other things. I’m looking forward to reviewing his examples to get some practical “hands on” experience with these things.
The combination of Roger’s talk yesterday, along with Derek and Steven today, really opened my eyes to the kind of things that we need to keep in mind – real practical steps that are relatively easy to take, but aren’t immediately apparent. Although Steven’s talk was a bit concerning, if only because it highlights that even a well designed page can have issues with screen reading and screen magnification tools. I certainly hope that I’ll be able to apply many of the principles and techniques covered with our forms as we move forward (maybe not immediately, but certainly very soon).
It was really cool to talk to Tim briefly after his talk, chatting about Rails developers, CMS’s, among other things.
The day closed with a presentation by Tantek on Microformats and Jeff Veen presenting on “Web 2.0” (a buzzword I have to admit I’ve not really looked into all that closely due to work busy-ness).
While I’ve been tracking microformats for a while (in an “interesting-but-not-immediately-useful” kinda way), it really hit me just how useful they were when he demonstrated the favelets for retrieving hCard data as a vCard file. Immensely powerful! And the hCalender example (subscribing to an iCalendar file based on output automatically generated from his weblog) really hit home. I’m hoping to introduce hCard to the events section of the new site design, and I’ll be definitely checking the microformats site in more detail soon.
Seeing Doug’s talk yesterday in the context of the talks today makes a lot more sense to me as well now. The conference has definitely got me thinking, with the added bonus of having some cool new tools to use moving forward.
The day ended with this blog getting the “best blog” award (or something like that) for covering the conference. Given some of my comments yesterday this was a surprise to say the least. But thanks to the organisers for choosing little ol’ me 🙂 (even if I did forget to pick up whatever the prize pack was after the session).
I couldn’t make the drinks session tonight because of other life stuff that I need to attend to (early start tomorrow, preparation required tonight), but I’m really looking forward to seeing the direction next year’s conference takes. Not sure if it’s something I’ll be able to do then (depends on all manner of things), but I’m sure it’ll be interesting for a whole bunch of people, and help to grow and strengthen the standards developer community even further.