Beginning the talks we had a presentation by Ashley Nolan on the challenges and lessons learnt from the responsive redesign of the BBC Good Food’s website. Functional aspects like animated carousels were mainly discarded in favour of easily navigable content free from gesture control conflicts and performance complications for low-powered devices.

With the rapid increase in responsive layouts it’s not surprising that coding them has become a CSS coder’s nightmare when it comes to managing multiple breakpoints and numerous variations of the same element’s layout. At FEL the general consensus among speakers was that this needed to be managed more efficiently through the utilisation of Sass-based media queries taking on various mixins which utilise a breakpoint function.

Also on the topics discussed a lot was the best approach to managing large, perhaps shared, code bases. Having modularity and separation between individual functions and elements is part of the answer but also considering a range of possible contexts, which a piece of code or visual elements are placed, needs constant attention and review.

Peter Gasston gave a presentation on Web Components which is a series of W3C modules that introduce new HTML, CSS and JavaScript properties for extending web pages with reusable components. Of particular note was ShadowDOM which is claimed to address issues surrounding encapsulation versus the common alternative of using iframes.

Patrick Hamann who is client-side developer at The Guardian demonstrated how large websites have become in terms of kilobytes, or even megabytes, despite the growing usage of the web on-the-go which is throttled by a slow, restricted data connection. Performance is vital to websites now more than ever as the patience and engagement of users is measured in just a second or less. Handheld devices come in many varieties of size, hardware capability and speed.

The Guardian have implemented a number of performance enhancing features to their website from header based styles to local storage hacks so that the core content can be loaded a lot faster on handheld devices regardless of connection speed/availability.

We were more than impressed with the depth and enthusiasm the speakers at FEL demonstrated in this first-time conference organised with the help of agency Made By Many and can’t wait until the next one!