From the Front 2012 conference wrap-up

  • Donato Rotunno

The 20th and 21st September took place the “ From the Front 2012” conference in Bologna (Italy),

While the conference itself was only on the 21st, it was preceded by a seamless workshop session the day before so the perception has been of a single big event.

Day 1: the workshops

For those interested in improving on  a specific topic, there was the choice among 4 great workshops.

I attended the one by Steve Krug about “Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing” and how to run quick but effective testing sessions on a low budget.

Apart fot the huge amount of learned things I appreciated a lot the attitude Steve brought to us attendees; he really wanted to transfer some knowledge and not

using the workshop to only show off his talent and experience.

At the end of the workhop I found myself really willing to start with “low-cost” testing ;-)

Day 2: the conference

The next day was conference day and judging from the opinions I gathered around it was a complete success.

The line-up was absolutely stunning, probably the best I have had the pleasure to see.

Many people, including me, have been emotionally involved by the speakers and their stories. Except for a few exceptions, as we'll see in a moment.

But what were the talks about? Here you go!

Steve Krug: You're NOT doing usability testing? Are you… nuts?

Basically a stripped down version of the workshop he gave the day before, with a quick test on the iPhone.

Vote: 8/10

Peter-Paul Koch: A Pixel is not a Pixel

You might know this guy from http://www.quirksmode.org; he gave a great insight on the differences between pixel concept on desktop and on mobile.

Denys Mishunov: Science of Design

His showed how Geometry, Neurology and Psichology play a great role in the design.

Remy Sharp: Mobile Debugging

Probably the most practical talk from a respected member of Javascript/JQuery community.

Great overview of the currently available tools for mobile debugging and a closer look at his JSConsole

Blaine Cook: Inventing the New World

From the former Twitter lead developer, some great ideas to improve the web with an eye on the past.

He also doubted about Facebook's usefulness, which I agreed.

Linda Sandvik: Making Things Better

The first talk after the lunch break was also the most disappointing for me.

The voice was deadly monotone and the content of the presentation was basically a collection of “I did this” and “I did that”,

plus inviting people to follow her example. Some people like it, I didn't sorry.

Jake Archibald: Application Cache – Douchebag

This guy took the scene by storm and catched attendees attention with a great presentation and a lightning fast speech about HTML5's Application cache.

Simply great.

JonathanSnook: State-based Design

This was my second (and last) disappointment of the day.

I was expecting MUCH more from a guru like him but he just did the absolute minimum by talking about some kind of “State-based design” and left the scene.

Denise Jacobs: Responsive Storytelling

Simply a short novel on how a brain managed to emancipate itself form boundaries and see the world from a completely different point of view.

A sweet metaphor to promote the responsive design for the times being.

Aral Balkan: Designing for humans

I have to admit that I didn't know this guy even though he's one of the leading people in UX community.

If all of his talks are at the same level of the one he gave here, then I recommend everyone to go and google for them.

The presentation was absolutely the best of the conference, showing off a number of wrong (and hylarious) examples of bad UX implementation and also the fixes.

From the very first moment he catched people's attention and didn't release it until the last slide.

He mentioned a few times Steve Jobs and his style looked influenced by Apple's guru under many aspects.

He likes to call himself “Experience expert” but I would also add “Experienced entertainer” to his resumé ;-)

And last but not least, the Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Pierre Spring!

Dressed like a real pirate, he entertained and kept the crowds warm; great job.

What's left to be said: looking forward to the next edition. Will not miss it.

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