My Thoughts About @media2005 | June 13, 2005

[UPDATE] - View my @media 2005 presentation online.

So @media 2005 was a resounding success. The venue was fantastic. By far the nicest venue I’ve spoken at. The screen was huge, the sound was good and the tiered seating meant you could see everybody and everybody could see you. Patrick had done a wonderful job of dressing the theatre, with huge @media banners and lighting effects. Every delegate got a handy laptop bag a slick looking program outlining the events to come.

The presentations were all well executed and It was a joy to see international heavyweights such as Jeffrey, Molly and Doug speaking in the UK, some for the first time.

As the first day went by, it became obvious that the level of knowledge in the room far exceeded our expectations. At Web Essentials 04 the organizers expected the conference to be made up of CSS experts and web professionals. However the actual attendees were largely from publicly funded organizations looking to make the switch to web standards. As such I kind of expected @media would be the same. How wrong I was.

The penny dropped for me when, at the start of my talk I asked how many people were using tables for layout, how many were using hybrids layouts and how many were using using pure CSS. I’d expected a fairly even mix. As it turned out only one person said they were still using table based layouts and a handful were using hybrids. Everybody else already knew how to layout a page using CSS, rendering my “Making the Break to Tableless Design” talk fairly redundant. Still I soldered on and while most people said they didn’t learn anything new from my talk, several had the heart to say it at least helped then validate their methods.

Rather than being a conference to spread the word of web standards, it seemed the word was already out there and doing just fine. With a better understanding of the audience I’m sure things will be taken up a notch next year. I for one already have some good ideas for my next presentation.

Like most conferences, the social aspect played a very huge part. It was great to meet up again with all the speakers again as well as distant friends. However it was equally great meeting up with new people and talking about everything from hard core web design to working as a chef in a Chinese restaurant (not me btw). I’d love to name check everybody I met but wouldn’t be enough room on the page. However it was great meeting up with you all. It’s you guys that make these events so much fun.

I soft launched a new project at the conference (more on that later), so spent a good deal of time swapping and comparing business cards.

Another project I’m excited about are the @media Master Class events we’ll be running next month. A number of the @media speakers including myself, will be running a series of small training sessions for those of you who’ve been enthused by the event and want to learn more.

If you’re still wondering what the WordPl@y posts were about, we weren’t doing anything clever with Google or trying too drive traffic to our sites. The night before the conference we each wrote down a word and then everybody had to pick one from a hat. We then had to work that word into our talk. We posted the words to our blogs in the hope that some of the audience would pick up on this and share the joke, which several did. I’ve done this before at pitches as it ensures all your team are paying attention and not daydreaming. It’s also a pretty good way of alleviating some of the stress of public speaking and making it a little more fun for all involved.

Lots of people have been blogging about @media and there are pictures aplenty on flickr. However if you don’t have a blog and would like too share your impressions here, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Posted at June 13, 2005 9:08 PM


Emma Sax said on June 12, 2005 6:17 PM

@media was brilliant for me, it taught me a lot of new tips that I’ll start to use as soon as I get to work. It was also good to put faces to the names of the people of the blogs I read daily.

Thanks for the tip of floating the ul to stop it collapsing when you’ve floated the li’s within it - that has always frustrated me!

Alex Armstrong said on June 12, 2005 6:37 PM

I really enjoyed @media which was the first conference about web design I had ever been too and hopefully Patrick will make this an annual event.

Considering how insular web design can normally be I found the after hours get-togethers to a really useful experience in themselves.

I would also like to add my thanks to your tip about adding a float to the ul before I was just defining the height for the ul itself.

A big thanks to Patrick, yourself and all the other speakers/ organisers.

Roger Johansson said on June 12, 2005 6:52 PM

Excellent summary of the level of the presentations. As I wrote over at my own site, you guys all did great, great presentations, but a large part of the audience would have benefitted (professionally) more from more advanced presentations. Don’t get me wrong - it was a very worthwhile two days and I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Great meeting you and parts of the rest of the Britpack! Hope to see you again soon (now that I’ve got my English flowing relatively well) ;-)

Andy Hume said on June 12, 2005 7:00 PM

I think without doubt everyone will have got something from your presentation, Andy.

For me, the overiding impression you gave was how simple it was to do a two column layout with CSS. Even people who have done it many times before will have had their thoughts refined and cleaned by watching your demonstration and little tips.

This is something I was commenting on to people throughout the two days. How really good speakers manage to convey their ideas so simply and succinctly, that the concepts just fall into place for the listeners.

For me, that was the best thing about the conference. Nice one.

Roger Johansson said on June 12, 2005 7:30 PM

Oh, just a small, tiny, nitpick about your presentation: the text-align:center trick is only needed for IE 5.*, not IE 6, provided it is in standards mode. I rarely bother anymore and let IE 5.* left-align the layout. I often see this trick mentioned without that piece of information included.

Peter J.Lambert said on June 12, 2005 7:54 PM

It was good to meet you and everybody else over course of the conference.

A quick point about the aim-level of the presentations, especially on the first day: I would say that I found a few, including your own to be “preaching to the converted” but I appreciated that there were many people in the room who were hearing this for the first time. However, on every occassion when I heard something I already knew, it served as a great reassurance that I’ve been doing it right.

I know a lot of other people that were also pleased to hear that Andy Budd/Doug Bowman/[insert speaker here] does things almost exactly the way they do. It worked well and it served as a starting point for conversations after the day’s programmed presentations.

I learned a lot and met some great people. It was a great experience.

Dan said on June 12, 2005 8:08 PM

I thought it was a great event.

And in no way was your talk redundant - even though many of us might have already known most of the things we saw and heard over the course of the two days (and have read all the books), seeing and hearing it from you all in person cemented that knowledge in a way I can’t explain. I guess if that wasn’t the case we’d just give kids books and forget about the teachers.

Veerle Pieters said on June 12, 2005 8:09 PM

I think you did a great job with the presentation, very well structured and nicely presented (like your logo and company name btw). It was a confirmation that I’m doing things the correct way. I was impressed about the example site you showed, that was done pretty fast. It’s nice to know you work that fast…. if you charge me by the hour in case I want to hire you hehe :-)

Gareth Rushgrove said on June 12, 2005 11:15 PM

Another Thanks I’m afraid. The simplicity of the presentation example I think was a good answer to something that cropped up a couple of times during the two days - is CSS design easy? (I guess the jury is still out but your presentation should have been in evidence)

Although I’m sure you could have come up with something fiendish if needed I heard several positive comments from “what! two days!” to people who felt some other presentations went over their heads and needed something to get to grips with.

Andy Saxton said on June 12, 2005 11:52 PM

Unfortunatly I didn’t get to speak to you at any length appart from a quick handshake and a hello. I tried to get a chat with you but you always seemed busy chatting to other people and I didn’t have the heart to butt in. My loss :/

A large part of my job is community education on Web Design and I was hoping to get a chat with you about it but as I said I never managed to for reasons beyond both our control.

Just to re-itterate what you said in your post I for one enjoyed hearing you speak and found it greatly encouraging that I was doing the right thing already. All the knowledge and advice on good practice that I have gained is through the good work that yourself and the other “gurus” do all year round and not just at conferences like @Media. It just goes to show how good you guys are at doing your jobs year round and the value of the resources that you guys make available to use free of charge on a weekly basis.

Thanks for the hard work and effort and being a nice guy.

Adam Fellowes said on June 13, 2005 8:43 AM

Although I’ve been using CSS for quite some time and have used it for the last two major redesigns undertaken here it was great to be reassured that we are not to far from the ultimate goal and will now feel more confident when pushing for further change and improvement.

It was also great to hear that many are also fairly frustrated with many of the so called supporting bodies when it comes to the understanding and implementation of accessibility, both yourself and Joe I feel stood up well in the panel discussion.

Denis Radenkovic said on June 13, 2005 9:16 AM

It was great to see your presentation and to meet you Andy. I’m not moving to Brighton, but I’m sure we will meet some time soon.

Faruk AteĊŸ said on June 13, 2005 9:30 AM

Andy, it was great meeting you and while I didn’t learn much from your presentation, I did learn one very useful thing: floating the containing UL for floated lists makes things much easier than using a clear-fix hack for it.
Very simple, but I completely didn’t realize that until your presentation.

Also, it was just very enjoyable and I think it helped the crowd feel more like a big group of friends, because of your questions to the audience.

Tony B said on June 13, 2005 10:22 AM

Still sick as a parrot that I couldn’t go. Maybe next time.

Mike Stenhouse said on June 13, 2005 10:44 AM

Good job tracking down somewhere to eat and great impression of a Spanish dancer

Chris Heilmann said on June 13, 2005 3:09 PM

Good Job, Andy. Especially, as you had to realise that you are preaching to the converted a bit :-)

Are the slides available online?

Bruno Girin said on June 13, 2005 5:25 PM

Thanks for a great talk Andy! Even though the audience was vey educated and we didn’t learn any new CSS or HTML tricks (well, that’s not true, I did, I don’t remember what but I wrote it down somewhere), the real value in your presentation was the process you went through. A good process is as important if not more important than the technical details. You can get the techie stuff online but you can only get the process through experience. Thanks for sharing that with us. In fact, I put it to good use only yesterday :-)

Martin Clausen said on June 13, 2005 9:13 PM

Since everybody else commenting apparently went to the talk, let me just say that your presentation also makes excellent learning material on its own.

Tom Woolley said on June 13, 2005 10:37 PM

Good to finally meet you Andy - if only very briefly - your talk helped reinforce the correct way to go about structuring websites - and your explanation of floating any divs within other divs helped me crack that Safari problem I mentioned. Cheers!

Paul Watson said on June 14, 2005 12:25 PM

I think that most of the attendees probably knew most of the information being imparted in the presentations (with the exception of some of Jeremy Keith’s decriminalisation of JavaScript and some of the more arcane facts about accessibility from Joe Clark, Robin Christopherson et al).

The real value of @media2005 for me (and for people I’ve spoken to) was as an incredibly powerful and exciting validation of the standards-compliant, accessibility aware web design and development process, and as a source of inspiration in both design and practice.

I think @media2005’s value was not as a source of information (although it undoubtedly was) but rather something more intangible and far more important than the sum of the information provided by the presentations.

Barry Bloye said on June 14, 2005 12:48 PM

Look! Your presentation is no.3 on (at the mo’, anyway):

I’m sure we can get that up to number 2… ;)

Andy Budd said on June 14, 2005 1:24 PM

Blimey, that’s not bad is it!

Barry Bloye said on June 14, 2005 2:44 PM

You’re in demand! Also, Patrick Griffiths is putting links to all the presentations up on the @media blog

As a fellow Brightonian, I was really interested to hear about SkillSwap, but I don’t think I’ve got anything worth contributing (yet!). I’ll definitely try registering for this Friday’s event, though!

ppk said on June 15, 2005 9:22 AM

Hi Andy,

Too bad we haven’t talked at all during the conference. Great you showed up at the JavaScript get-together! This really proves that plenty of CSS people want to know more about our beautiful language.

And I’m so glad you talked about the float: left/right trick with no margins. After much sweat and tears I’d recently come to the same conclusion, though I hadn’t removed the margins yet. This sort of best practices is what we really need.