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Front-End Design Conference ’09 Wrap-up

Published by Chris Coyier

The Front-End Design Conference was made from a lot of "firsts". Many of us speakers were speaking in front of an audience of peers for the first time since college Speech. For Dan Denney, it was his first time organizing and promoting an event. For me, it was my first time speaking or even attending a design conference, not to mention my first Gator-meat taco. But the overwhelming response from the attendees was that nothing felt first-time about it. The venue was very nice, everything was nicely organized, and the print materials were nice. A+ work by Dan and his whole crew!

All the speakers where cool enough to provide their slides and extra materials for anyone to download. Nate from FortySevenMedia brought a video camera and has provided video of all the presentations as well. No complaining about the quality or sound! We are lucky to have anything at all, and it just gives you more motivation to come in person next time =).

I thought I'd gather up all the materials and get them out to you folks here, in case you are interested.


Fabio Sasso: Design Inspiration

You probably know Fabio from His slides were beautifully designed, and flowed with the narrative of his fascinating story. He talked about everything from his personal story of rebuilding from losing everything to how Brazil and the 80's heavily influence his current work. I think my favorite part was when he emphasized that in doing client work, you need to do what the clients' clients need, not what the client wants.




Grant Friedman: Techniques for Creating and Using Design Resources

Grant took a unique approach to his presentation by getting down-and-dirty with us with real paint and paper. Ever wonder how those "splatter" and "drip" Photoshop brushes are made? Literally from splatters and drips! The major tips were: don't use shitty paper and do your due diligence after scanning. Grant put all the brushes from his presentation up for download.


Jonathan Longnecker: Why ExpressionEngine is Great for Designers

Jonathan's design shop FortySeven Media uses ExpressionEngine as it's CMS of choice. He dug into some real practical examples showing us how dynamic and flexible ExpressionEngine code can be. It was pretty clear Jonathan feels as strongly about EE as I do about WordPress. I definitely understand EE better and could see it being awesome in many circumstances. His slides are available here.



ME! - Using jQuery to Extend CSS

I'm not sure if my title was exactly perfect, but whatever. I just launched into why I think jQuery is the bee's knees and trudged through a bunch of practical examples of it's use.


Download Slides & Examples



Andrew Maier: Affordances in Modern Web Design

Andrew's presentation was all about the theory of user interface. People learn how to interact with things throughout their lives and develop expectations about what things do and how they work. The web is not unique in this way, so we can learn from the wider world in how to design things that people intuitively understand (a good thing).




John Ashenden: How to Make It Better

John is a creative director at GrooveShark, which was clearly evidenced in the thoughtful way he approaches design in Photoshop. He talked about the importance of detail, things like making your light sources consistent in both direction and color. Then about organization, and how when working in a team environment creating your files with plenty of precise guides will have better results and less frustration. One of my favorite parts was in learning how vector paths can be placed not directly on a pixel, resulting in fuzzy lines. That happens to me often and I never quite understood why.

John made his slides and example creative files available for download.


Kevin Hale: How to Design Web Apps People Love

As you probably all know, I absolutely love Wufoo for making web forms. When I step back and look at my feelings rationally, it seems almost weird how strongly I feel about the awesomeness of Wufoo. Well I learned from Kevin's talk that I have slowly been manipulated into feeling this way by one of the most well-designed web apps ever. It's hard not to love an app that features dragon and dinosaur graphics, random weird Shakespeare quotes, and sends Christmas cards to it's users.

You can download Kevin's presentation slides.



  1. Thanks Chris, This really helps those of us that wanted to come but either didn’t have the money or the time.

  2. Permalink to comment#

    Thanks for the recap and the videos! Now I have to find some time to watch them all!

  3. Natalie
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    Many thanks for all of this. I couldn’t make it this year, but the videos are great and an inspiration to make the next one. There are plans for more I hope?

  4. Permalink to comment#

    That saved me a fair bit of money buying a ticket! Like you slide the best mate, really informative

  5. That’s awesome, man. Good job on the presentation.

    But, seriously, Gator meat tacos? That sounds like diarrhea in a corn tortilla. :(

  6. Name...
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    Dang, I must have missed the promos. I live over here in St Pete and would have loved to have attended. Can’t wait for next year!

  7. Dang, I must have missed the promos. I live over here in St Pete and would have loved to have attended. Can’t wait for next year!
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  8. Krinkle
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    Nice presentation there Chris !

  9. This is an AMAZING resource. Thank you Chris.

  10. Cool man, I wanted to go but couldn’t, was tied down with work and family. Really appreciate the videos and slides. Nice material! Thanks 1

  11. Hey Chris. I’ve finally uploaded John and Kevin’s videos now.



    Glad everyone is liking them. Sorry about the crappy video. Last minute thing, you know.

  12. Thanks for this review, videos, and downloads, I wish I could of made it… Maybe in the future!

  13. Permalink to comment#

    Wow! sweet set of videos. You are doing a greaT job man.

  14. Thank you for everything Chris!

    Thanks for helping to inspire me to run the conference in the first place and thanks for rocking it with your presentation.

    It was a blast!

  15. Permalink to comment#

    Thank you guys, great videos! i really enjoyed watching them , – Motti

  16. I echo your sentiments. I can add that having been to a few design conferences over the years (including Web2000 Chicago almost ten years ago!), I believe this was up there with the best – especially for the money. What a GREAT value for under $200. Thanks to Dan for all his hard work and all the speakers for informing, inspiring and entertaining. I can’t wait until next year.

  17. Karl Oakes
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    Thanks Chris and the rest of the guys for the great vids and slides from the conference, it would of been great to attend, maybe a bit too far considering I live in Co.Durham, UK.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Same sentiment. Brilliant to have the opportunity to watch these. There’s no way I could have got their from the Midlands, UK. Thanks.

    • Permalink to comment#

      P.S. That was the first time I’ve commented on here and I love the design for commenting! Simple, clean and attractive – it makes me want to comment more (though I promise I won’t if I have nothing to say!).

  18. Permalink to comment#

    Awesome, thanks for posting the vids.

    Expression engine does looks cool, it would be nice if WP’s custom fields were more customizable in display like EE with different size text boxes etc.

    I liked your presentation on jquery, very useful indeed.

  19. Ankur
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    Awesome videos! And keep up the good work with the site. Cheers.

  20. Many thanks for your generosity!

  21. Permalink to comment#

    thanks Chris

  22. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for posting this, the event looked very interesting indeed. Would loved to have been there, particularly for your JQuery presentation, as this is something which in the near future, I’ll really be pushing in my own web development.

    Now its just setting aside the time to watch all the videos.


  23. Thanks a lot for sharing Chris !

    Just a question, why adding css “opacity” “0.5” with jQuery is better and more valid than only putting opacity:0.5; in the css file? didn’t get it..

    • That was mostly just an example to explain how jQuery knows what browser environment you are in so can make smart choices. With pure CSS, you need to use 4-5 different CSS declarations to achieve cross-browser transparency. With jQuery, just the one.

    • Ah OK I see, thanks !

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