Having A Smashing Time



It was a particularly rainy morning, I was sipping from my coffee and catching up with emails when one of them caught my eye. It was an invitation to Smashing Conference in Oxford, which is jam packed full of discussions about the latest design and content trends. So I talked to Ian and suggested that we should reward Fanatics for the great work we do. When we both agreed on this great idea – I was rewarded with a ticket to Smashing Conference. Every week before the Smashing Conference attendees were sent emails with useful informations about Oxford and speakers performing. 

The day before the actual conference, I took the supposedly always-on-time train to Oxford and arrived an hour and half later than expected. A Lot of attendees travelling to the conference met up in St. Aldate’s tavern for a couple of pints and a few talks. Atmosphere advised that networking will be a strong aspect of the conference as everyone was friendly – a pint of Guinness landed on my table before I had a chance to introduce myself.


The first speaker in this pub session was Adrian Bateman from Microsoft who worked on internet explorer. He started his speech with an honest apology and promised to do a better job on MS Edge. Adrian uncovered some secret projects that Microsoft is currently working on and  the audience couldn’t agree whether we should be excited or scared! When Adrian finished his talk he accepted a few insults regarding internet explorer before Michael Le jumped on the stage and quickly diverted to a different topic. He shared his experience working on a large scale project working on Telegraphs’ website. After Michael’s talk, I called it a day and decided to have a rest before the start of two busy days.

On the first conference morning everyone was welcomed with an attendees pack which included goodies from sponsors, badges and a conference program. Sponsors stalls, along with coffee tables worked as a great starting point for networking. People with different backgrounds traveled from far to attend the conference and share their experiences. When 9 o’clock approached we went to the conference hall where I had to take a minute to admire the beauty of Oxford town hall.


Aaron Walter from Mail Chimp with his talk about building great design teams, kickstarted the conference and gave us insight into building possibly the best team in the industry. This was followed by a variety of talks about design patterns and driving user behaviour which kept everyone busy frantically making notes and encouraged discussions during coffee breaks. Vasilis Van Gemert showed us how to have fun building layouts the lazy way but with clever solutions. In my opinion the most interesting talk was done by Sarah Soueidan, who didn’t manage to fit her talk within one hour but introduced us to the most interesting features of motions on the web. After an excellent set of talks we were invited to  the conference party, which marked the end of day one.

The second day was slightly affected by the conference party, where a few attendees arrived late and the trending hashtag in conference bingo was #smashingHangover. Anyway, excitement didn’t leave the crowd when the mystery speaker was announced to be talented designer Mark Boulton. His inspirational speech about design systems managed to get everyones full attention. A few more talks about workflows highlighted it’s importance to great job on a project. Umar Hansa’s presentation featuring devtools filled up few pages in my notepad and undoubtedly will improve my development. I’m sure there will be a lot of work for me to catch up with all latest tools. Another talk from sales force UX designer and developer Jina Bolton demonstrated designing range of products with several variations while keeping same feel in designs.


All the topics were well covered and I left Oxford with a full head of new things to do research for. I believe this was the best conference I could attend and will now apply some of my findings here at Fanatic.

– Patrik