Our day at Handheld Conference

By Toward,

November 2012


Handheld Conference

On Monday, Rob, Paul, Gareth, James and myself attended Handheld Conference, a day of talks celebrating all things mobile web and app related.

It seems, for us Welsh folk, web conferences are like buses. You wait around for one for years and two rock up within a couple of months of each other. And that's great! It's great that Wales is becoming known as a player in the web industry. It's great that we get to show off our beautiful land to people further afield. It's great that such high quality speakers choose to come over the bridge to share their knowledge. It's especially great as it only took me 15 mins to get there!

Much like Port80, the conference Rob and I spoke at in May, this was the first one for organiser Craig Lockwood. I applaud him for pulling it off with what only can be described as aplomb! The timings were precise, the beautiful St David's hotel was a fantastic venue, the food was excellent, as is normal for these sorts of things, the attendees were chatty, open and friendly, and most importantly of all the speakers were brilliant.

Rob, strutting his stuff on stage

Among the established speakers from the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft was our very own Rob, who did one of three quick-fire 15 minute talks. He did us proud. He spoke brilliantly about content, and how it plays such a vital role in any web project, mobile or otherwise. He used some examples of how we've adopted a content first approach, described in this post about a project for Solas.

All the speakers can be found here, but for me the speakers that stood out (apart from Rob or course) were Dave Addey, owner of iOS App development company Agant and Aral Balkan a well known user experience designer. I think the reason why these talks appealed to me is that both speakers showed both a huge amount of detailed knowledge of their subjects and intense passion for design and detail.

The Handheld Speakers

As a business we try to attend conferences to help grow our knowledge, passion and connections in the industry. I thought it might be nice for the team to tell you their highlights, so over to them…

Rob said –

As a non-techy person who doesn't code or design, I got an awful lot out of the day. It is always insightful to learn about what others are making and how they are pushing the boundaries. The range of speakers was a real coup for the day and though they each had their own expertise, there were common themes throughout the day, such as content!

It was also useful to be reminded of things that sometimes get lost as we get bogged down with just doing the day job. It was good to be reminded that there is a difference between designing websites and crafting experiences. As a speaker at the event, chatting to others before and after has really left me pondering a wealth of content related issues, many of wish I hope to blog about in the coming months.

James said –

When you go to a conference you want to be engaged, enthused and if you’re lucky, informed. I’m glad to say that handheld conf provided all of these and a few more, not only did I come away enthusiastic about the industry I’m in, but also encouraged by the feel of community and overall willingness to share and inspire.

For me there were a few speakers that stood out, Dave Addey – Great to see someone’s passion and simple idea lead to so much more, Andrew Spooner – always good to hear from such an enthusiastic speaker from such a great company, Robert Mills (our very own) Good to see he finished his slides and talk, but more importantly gave an insight to a subject most of us avoid, and finally, Well done Craig Lockwood for placing Aral Balkan at the end of the day, whose use of images, video, humour and unbridled passion lifted everyones spirit after such a long day, his was without doubt a great great end to a brilliant day!

Paul said –

Aside from the renewed motivation in myself that these conferences generally instil, I found the varying viewpoints on the Native Vs Web apps discussion to be particularly interesting. Dave Addey's talk was a highlight for me; his insight into how Agant projects the potential success of an app project will become, I suspect, a useful template for many of us in the future.

Gareth said –

For me, Handheld Conference was a huge success. Craig Lockwood, a conference rookie, put on a great show. It ran (almost) very smoothly, the venue was fantastic and most importantly the line-up was solid.

The talks obviously catered for developers, but luckily for me – many topics included design and content. As a designer, I think it's important that I have an understanding of how developers work, and I really got that from Handheld. None of the talks were to techy – which meant nothing went over my head. One thing I now know for sure, is that PhoneGap is the worst thing since unsliced bread.

Several talks really stood out for me.Dave Addey gave us a good insight into what makes great apps and how to become a multi-millionaire from making them (not really). His well made points really got me thinking differently, about how an app can make money.

Simon Cross, from Facebook produced some mind-blowing statistics. More people use m.facebook.com than the iOS and Android app combined.

Whilst, Aral Balkan had the tough final slot, he was the perfect speaker for this. Despite the long day, he perked the crowd up with an entertaining talk, not about great design, but about terribly, awful, horrendous design. He had picked some very funny examples of this, many in hotel rooms.

Oh, and the food was incredible. Hats off to Lockwood.

So, I think it's fair to say that the day was a success, and we look forward to both Port80 and Handheld in 2013! Did you go, what was your highlight? Let us know in the comments.