Web Development / Our Thoughts on WDC 2022 Developer Conference

Our Thoughts on WDC 2022 Developer Conference

Andy Thorne
screen shot from developer conference website

A few weeks ago, we sent our dev and design team to WDC 2022, the longest running web developer conference in Bristol.

With talks ranging from web design, design systems to accessibility, and radical design to new programming tools, the conference was a great event for developers, designers, accessibility and design system advocates, digital creatives and anyone looking to expand their knowledge about making design and development better for everyone.

Our devs and designers had a great time and came back with lots of thoughts and ideas to talk about and bring into our own processes.

Here are their top takeaways from WDC 2022.

Day 1 at the design & developer conference

Jhey Thompkins

We started Day 1 with a talk our developers loved! Jhey Thompkins, a developer at Google showed the endless possibilities of the ::has() CSS selector.

When there is full browser compatibility, utilising CSS more will let us do so much that we would normally have to do with JavaScript.

This will reduce JavaScript bloat, resulting in faster websites.

Geri Coady

Geri Coady shared some great advice about turning your passion project into a reality.

Utilise your skills & learn new ones, step out of your comfort zone and remember that your competitors can be your biggest supporters too!

Geri Reid

A quote by Sheri Byrne-Haber reading good accessibility is about compliance. Great accessibility is about empathy.

Geri Reid shares a great quote from Sheri Byrne-Haber about giving a damn about accessibility.

In a great talk about the new WCAG 3.0 guidelines, Geri Reid opened our minds more to the world of accessibility. She discussed the idea of designing for humanity instead of humans by solving core issues, focusing on ecosystems and thinking long-term. She also reminded us of the importance of designing for a wide range of disabilities and testing those designs with people with disabilities.

Scott Riley

Scott Riley’s keynote talk explored mindful design. We don’t have a bottomless pool of mental resources so distractions come at a cost.

As designers, we have a responsibility to create mindful designs for our users that don’t use excessive mental resources.

Day 2 at the design & developer conference

Amy Hupe

An example of how to create conscious design systems by Amy Hupe with the image reading, commenter: "Was there research conducted on the original inputs that [showed] that they met a goal that was not being met by box inputs?" Google: "[No]"

Amy Hupe shares an example of how to create conscious design systems.

Another reason we enjoyed the conference was the ongoing discussion around accessibility. Amy Hupe explored how we can ensure accessibility for users through design systems by designing for the full spectrum of identities, characteristics, circumstances, and experiences.

The ideas she discussed have helped our developers to be more considerate about accessibility going forward when developing the sites and raising things during design reviews before they become an issue.

Andy Bell

Another favourite for our developers was Andy Bell’s talk on how to be the browser’s mentor, not its micromanager. He discussed the benefit of allowing the browser to handle more of the styles rather than knit-picking about tiny details that the user is unlikely to notice.

The aim should be to provide a consistent experience across all devices rather than focusing too much on trying to accommodate every single breakpoint.

For example, you can use the CSS clamp property to allow the browser to shrink font sizes with the screen size instead of using all fixed sizes on different breakpoints. Check out the website that Andy used as an example during his talk here.

Imanina Birch

An example of one of the lightning talks at the developer conference

The developer conference included smaller and more intimate talks, called lightning talks.

A great concept during the conference was the shorter ‘Lightning Talks’ that gave a platform to new speakers and the opportunity to ease into the world of giving talks. One that really resonated with us was Imanina Birch’s talk ‘Social Design, Capitalist Society’. Imanina explored the limitations of designing for good when money controls the decisions.

Discussing the idea of protecting ourselves and others during the design process gave us some more things to think about and revisit our processes.

Gavin Strange

Our top talk on Day 2 had to be the energetic and enthusiastic Gavin Strange.

This was the first time some of us had seen him give a talk and it blew us away.

From his eccentric and wild passion projects to showing us behind the scenes of the powerful and emotionally charged Greenpeace animation ‘Turtle Journey’ Gavin truly inspired us to play around and explore more of the things that we care about.

A quote by Sheri Byrne-Haber reading good accessibility is about compliance. Great accessibility is about empathy.

WDC 2022 was based right by the lovely Bristol harbour.

Our experience at WDC 2022 has given us lots of inspiration and ideas to apply to our processes.

We had a great time, and can’t wait for next year’s conference, thanks guys!