Fronteers Conference 2015 takeaways

I’ve visited Fronteers Conference 2015, and I’ve made some notes. Two days of information, compressed into one dense list. Should save you some mental http requests! #perfmatters

Fronteers was my first experience with front-end conferences, and is my go-to front-end conference since. It took place at the home of Fronteers Conference: the great Tuschinski theater in Amsterdam. This edition I thought the discussed topics were even more diverse than they were at the previous editions, I really like that. We as front-end developers are the glue that connects a lot of expertises together on the web, and I think it’s good we get to see other fields of expertise and other ways of thinking on conferences.

My takeaways from Fronteers 2015

I thought it could be useful to others if I’d share the notes I made during the conference. I’ve looked through them, cleaned them up and pasted them here. I wouldn’t say it’s a complete list of what has been said, it’s my take on the subjects and examples discussed. Here we go!

  • Ad- and Content blockers are a risk to our front-end. In iOS 9 users can not only block advertising but can also block webfonts, which of course includes icon fonts as well. We need to make sure our websites are usable without icons and won’t break critical UX elements like for example the hamburger menu.
  • It’s good to realize that we are an edge case: we have fast and stable internet and we have solid devices. Emerging economies often don’t have that luxury.
  • Adding the critical path CSS to a website results in a faster display of the webpages. A grunt plugin we could try for that use is grunt-criticalcss
  • Take a look at this article: More Weight Doesn’t Mean More Wait, a performance case study done on Wired
  • “Building for resilience is our job”
  • Try node-sass in my front-end projects, node-sass should be faster than other sass modules because it isn’t based on Ruby
  • As a front-ender/entrepeneur you have a difficult job: there’s a thin line between success and failure. Example: should you take the time to learn all the new frameworks on the block or specialize in just a couple? When you decide to check them all out you won’t have time to do actual work. When you don’t check them out and focus on a couple you risk not being up to date anymore.
  • A JavaScript Video Decoder Actually Makes Sense, but I think I won’t use it in my day to day projects. I’d recommend watching Dominic Szablewski’s talk about this topic when the video is up, so you can see another surprising thing that’s possible with Javascript. A quote in this talk was “Always bet on Javascript”. It’s so incredibly versatile, I think it makes sense. Just make sure it’s not in the critical path.
  • You should have an accessibility check in your workflow. Tota11y helps visualize problems that users with assistive technology could have with your site.
  • Screen readers are the most used assistive technology, test your site with them! JAWS is most used, but costs money. A free alternative for Windows is NVDA, Mac users can use the built in VoiceOver.
  • You could state that your website discriminates certain groups of people when your website doesn’t comply with accessibility guidelines. There has been a case where Netflix was sued for this, eventually settling the case for $795,000. Doing accessibility right has the advantage more people can use your website and you won’t get sued. Win – win!
  • There is a browser plugin called OpenDyslexic. OpenDyslexic helps increase readability for readers with dyslexia overriding the fonts on the website with a special font for dyslexic users. I’ve tried it because I was worried about my icon fonts. Conclusion: it didn’t break my icon fonts because the plugin doesn’t apply the font to pseudo elements, a common place for my icons to reside.
  • The difference between a Hippo and a Zippo? The first one is big and heavy, the second one is a little lighter.
  • Try SVGOMG to compress SVG files, looks promising.
  • It’s good to test websites on 3G speed, since it’s the most common internet speed.
  • You can play a game on your Playstation even though not all of the levels have been downloaded, which is great. Why can’t websites be more like this? Service worker support is flaky but they can be of help!
  • Data is being collected about network speeds around the globe (OpenSignal – State of LTE). This could be useful when testing for performance on foreign websites.
  • Webpagetest.org is used by multiple speakers, should use it more often.
  • Let’s Encrypt is starting in Q4 of this year, time to add certificates to our all of our websites!
  • There is a CSS unit I didn’t know about. The fr unit, which represents a fraction of the free space in the grid container.
  • CSS Grids can help you with rapid prototyping since they’re easy to use. It helps you understand the grid as well, so you’ll be prepared for times with better browser support.
  • “Focus on how you’ve made a difference for someone rather than how many milliseconds you’ve saved on your project.”
  • The growth of the web happens in India/China. These users don’t have access to resources like fast internet connections and high-end smartphones. These people are eager to get on the web, let’s make the web work for them as well.
  • “The quick fix of today will be the landfill of tomorrow”. If you do a fix, fix it with gold.

Conclusion

I think the last quote is one we can all come home with! Anyway: The event’s hashtag was #fronteers15, I suggest you check it out if you want to see some photos. I’m grateful I could be there, see you guys at Fronteers Conference 2016! Or sooner: the Fronteers Conference crew announced a “Fronteers Spring Thing” at the end of day two. I’m very curious what it will be!