Best of Mobilism 2013

Last week, Mobilism took place for the third year in a row and quite a few top talks could be enjoyed in a spectacular theatre in central Amsterdam. I loved every bit of it (except for the Dutch weather outside perhaps…). Anyway, here’s a short recap of the talks I enjoyed the most and got a lot out from. Videos from all talks are obviously on the way, and if you’re into mobile design or development at all I can definitley recommend you to take some time and watch it. Until then, enjoy this summary and the attached presentation material.

Cennydd Bowles, Designing with context

I’ll start with my favorite talk, wherein Cennydd presented a framework on how to approach the challenge of designing with context. And context is not just about here and now, he says. “Instead, it refers to the physical, digital and social structures. Mechnically, a football match is the same wherever it’s played; yet context skews the odds: a team playing at home receives a proven advantage from their favourable environment, fan support, and potentially even elevated hormonal response.”

He goes on to talk about the danger in designing for stereotypes, a typical mobile environment that for some reason always includes public transport and so on.

His framework for designing with context touches the subjects of

  • Device context (what devices will be product be used on and what can be done with them?)
  • Environmental context (where will it be used?)
  • Time context (when, for how long?)
  • Activity context (e.g. single tasked vs many activities?)
  • Individual context (what preferences and abilities does the user have?)
  • Location context (where will it be used and how does it matter?)
  • Social context (e.g. will it be used in public, alone?)

The very appropriate, and probably not entirely accidental, acronym is then DETAILS, and I highly recommend you to read more about it on Cennydd’s blog.

Josh Clark, Beyond mobile

As the last presenter of the first day, Josh did an amazing job to capture the audience’s attention and present some more or less mind-blowing designs that are already available in todays world in mobile and what will be possible in a not so distant future.

The big take-away was that we should basically stop designing interfaces and start designing around the mobile devices possibilities and what these devices might be able to do tomorrow. There are more possibilities with mobile, not less! “Your API is the application”.

Looking forward to the video so I can watch it again.

Sara Wachter-Boettcher, What you don’t know will hurt you: Designing with and for existing content

All about content strategy and how to work with content in a world where content has been stacked up for ages and how to deal with it, because there is no escaping it if we want to create great experiences and do good business. What we need is structure, and that requires hard work. And time.

Some takeaways:

  • Get into the content. Do content audits and remove all clutter that’s just eating time, energy and space.
  • Design with real content and don’t blindly design around dummy text. If you don’t have real content, at least know the structure of the content.
  • Design systems and structure, not pages

Mat Marquis, Responsible Responsive Images

This was a really interesting insight into what’s going on with (responsive) images when it comes to standards, performance and optimisation. Mat also explained a bit of the W3C processes and where image handling stands there (in short: he wasn’t all happy).

Dave Shea, Mobile Web Design Anti-Patterns

The first, but not the last, to mention Doorslams as an anti-pattern that pushes people to use an app instead of the (crappy?) website. That among other anti-pattern and also recommending more tips and approaches, like how to optimize for performance. He was also the first among others on the conference to mention the humongous new Oakley website (85 MB).

Stephen Hay, The New Photoshop, Part 2: The Revenge of the Web

Stephen presented some practical tips on how to work in responsive design projects, particularly using the browser more and Photoshop less – pretty much exactly the experience that I’ve personally had in my recent projects, so I thought it was spot on. There were also some concrete tips on tools to use to make it easier. Good stuff!

…and there was more

You could see the entire program on the Mobilism website.

I sincerely hope the conference will run for at least another year, despite the worrying signals we’ve  heard that’s hard to make it financially viable. Organisers, you did a great job and I hope to see you again.

The sponsors were also both nice and generous, and I actually manage to walk away from the conference one Nokia Lumia 820 richer. #win