Responsive Day Out 2013

Last Thursday I headed down to Brighton. The three plus hour train journey made all the more enjoyable for bumping into Cole Henley en route.

Shopify Brighton Meetup

On Thursday evening I headed along to the Old Ship on the seafront for the first UK Shopify Meetup. Bang on 5.30 the bar was full, much to the surprise of the hotel manager and myself.

It was great to meet everyone who came out the night before Friday’s conference. Swag was given out, t-shirts remain every popular and the scarcity of the Shopify hoodie meant the few that I had went like hot cakes.

There was plenty of Shopify and web chat followed by a number of us heading out to a diner for shakes and burgers. Beer and milkshake aren’t a great mix, just in case you wondered!

Responsive Day Out

Responsive Day Out

(Photo: Marc Thiele)

The following day after taking in the first of many flat whites at Small Batch I headed over to The Dome for Responsive Day Out – as the name suggests a conference devoted to discussing Responsive Web Design (RWD).

On arrival the Shopify supported Small Batch coffee cart was in full swing serving folk, so much so I sadly missed out.

Jeremy had put on a packed agenda and a new, at least to me, format. Three short twenty minute talks followed by a curated Q + A on the sofa.

There were 12 talks spread over four sessions and I managed to see all of them before heading back up the hill to the station for the long train ride home.


Looking back it’s hard to believe how impactful Ethan’s A List Apart article has been. It’s not yet three years old but RWD as a discipline is now firmly part of our everyday working lives as web designers and developers.

The talks covered lots of ground. Everything from design process, design philosophy, performance, navigational patterns and how big organisations such as the BBC and the Guardian are tackling the problems thrown up by RWD.

One thing that became very apparent, and to paraphrase Sarah, is that we are still very much “winging it”. There’s plenty of unchartered territory and many problems to solve.

In no particular order here are some of the key things I picked up on:


Finally a quick word on pragmatism. During his “Anatomy of a responsive page load” session Andy Hulme uttered the “technique that dare not speak it’s name”. That is of course user-agent detection.

I know it’s fraught with difficulty, that browsers are very sloppy at identifying themselves and that the user-agent strings are liable to change but it was refreshing to hear Andy say that for now the Guardian use services like Device Atlas and WURFL. Pragmatism, plain and simple.

Is there ever a case for using these techniques? I would argue in certain contexts yes. The Guardian have a team constantly working on their web presence. They can add, amend and remove at will. This is a very different context to me handing over a responsive site to a local business. It’s unlikely that they will have a budget to keep me on a retainer so using these techniques could ultimately, and inadvertently, break their site moving forward. Again, at least for me, context is as important as content.

Until next year

There was a lot to like about the conference. As always it was great to see old friends and make new ones. The format really worked. The price point was perfect and the content thought provoking. What say you to Responsive Day Out 2014 Jeremy?

Conference audio

Jeremy has kindly made the audio available via Huffduffer. It’s well worth a listen, especially the chat sections.

  1. Sarah Parmenter: The Responsive Workflow
  2. David Bushell: Responsive Navigation
  3. Tom Maslen: Cutting the Mustard
  4. Jeremy chatting with Sarah, David, and Tom
  5. Richard Rutter: Responsive Web Fonts
  6. Josh Emerson: Asset Fonts
  7. Laura Kalbag: Design Systems
  8. Elliot Jay Stocks: RWD The War Has Not Yet Been Won
  9. Jeremy chatting with Richard, Josh, Laura, and Elliot
  10. Anna Debenham: Playing with Game Console Browsers
  11. Andy Hume: The Anatomy of a Responsive Page Load
  12. Bruce Lawson: What’s Next in StandardsLand
  13. Jeremy chatting with Anna, Andy, and Bruce
  14. Owen Gregory: Antiphonal Geometry
  15. Paul Lloyd: The Edge of the Web
  16. Mark Boulton: In Between
  17. Jeremy chatting with Owen, Paul, and Mark


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