Web Standardistas - HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions


We built it, they came...

A week ago the inaugural, and much-anticipated, Build Conference kicked off in Belfast.

We were delighted to be a part of the lineup, taking the stage alongside a stellar cast of presenters, to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable and event-filled workshop on Getting Started With HTML5 and CSS3. (More on that to follow in a separate post (with free - yes, free - downloadables)…)

As educators based in Belfast with a significant stake in the web design and development industry both locally and internationally, we were looking forward to what Andy Good - Build organiser, and all-round human dynamo - had described as a conference created for “obsessive-compulsive” designers. We had high hopes.

We were not to be disappointed.

Andy didn’t let us down. Build ran effortlessly, largely thanks to a huge amount of effort behind the scenes, both by the human dynamo himself and a dedicated team of assistants, led by the singular Ciaran Madden.

After a day of dedicated workshops, which also covered usability with Andy Budd of Clearleft and accessibility with Phil Strain of Ecliptic, the conference kicked off at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. In the spirit of the conference’s title, ‘Build’, the six speakers - by intention or fortunate accident - covered a cross-section of topics that built upon each other seamlessly into a well-rounded day’s content.

Tim Van Damme kicked the day off with a passionate talk on the importance of ‘Passion’, begun, appropriately with a carefully modified homage to Steve Ballmer’s famous chimp impression: “Designers! Designers! Designers! Designers!”

With the audience primed up for the day, Andy Budd took to the stage ably assisted by Flight of The Conchords. Delivering an excellent presentation on ‘Seductive Design’ (with a few dating pointers thrown in) Andy hammered home some well made points. It was, indeed, Business Time.

The final morning session was delivered by Mark Boulton who introduced the audience to the potential and perils of ‘Font Embedding’ (with an all too brief foray into the tricky topic of car park design). Along with a comprehensive overview of typography’s role on and off the web, Mark stressed the importance of a well considered fallback font stack to minimise the effects of a Flash of Unstyled Text (FOUT), increasingly an issue as web fonts take hold.

Kicking off the afternoon with an epic basketball metaphor, Ryan Sims outlined the importance of practice, destroying ‘the myth of talent’ and stressing that ‘Practice Makes Pixel-Perfect’. His session really got the audience thinking and proved an excellent introduction to the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition (not as dry as you might think).

Asking the question, “Are you a designer or a developer?” Wilson Miner took the audience on a leisurely stroll around the topic of ‘Design/Build’. Introducing himself as, “a designer with code skills or, if the situation requires it, a coder with good design sense,” he made a case for professionals within our industry embracing both skill sets and adopting a hybrid approach.

The closing keynote was delivered by Eric Meyer, a true gentleman and one of the undoubted giants of the web. Speaking on the topic of ‘A More Tangled Web’, Eric demonstrated how ‘The Web Has Won’, illustrating how its simplicity and extensibility has taken the web to every corner of our lives. It was a fitting and appropriate end to a riveting day.

Andy has been rightly praised left, right and centre and he deserves all the praise he’s received. It’s worth rounding up some of the plaudits he has received. They’re certainly well earned and draw out some common themes.

Inayaili de León, better known as @yaili of the excellent Web Designer Notebook, states:

The future looks bright for Build. If the speakers’ lineup is as good as this year’s and the same care goes into the planning, I’m sure a lot more people will be interested in attending.

The fact that it was in Belfast, in my opinion, contributed to its character as a smaller high quality conference. So, I’ll make mine Andy’s words and say that, indeed, Build was, “fucking lethal.” Bravo!

Sam Brown, an “extremely talented jackass” (in the words of Tim Van Damme), states:

Build was [Andy’s] biggest undertaking and he absolutely over-delivered in every aspect – this was especially evident when he got a standing ovation at the end of the conference day.

We could go on.

The praise is well-earned and well-deserved. Andy deserves a great deal of credit for having the self-belief and confidence to bring an internationally respected roster of speakers to Belfast. His work, along with the work of many others promoting similar design events in Belfast, is helping to place the city on the international design map. A place it deserves to be.

Add Build’s star-studded lineup to the numerous recent guest speakers, across the design spectrum that have been hosted at the Art College in Belfast - Nicholas Felton, Poke London and Adrian Shaughnessy, to name but three - and it’s clear there’s a lot going on in the city.

It feels appropriate to close with the words of Mr McMillan (to credit him with his real surname), who states:

We built it, they came…

Indeed they did. Indeed they did. Well done Sir.

1258057260 · Follow Us on Twitter


It was a superb event. Being only on the periphery of web design I was expecting to feel like I was peering into a different world. Instead it was relevant, interesting, entertaining, impressive and damned exciting.

Fantastic speakers! Beautiful slides! Andy Budd's talk was brilliantly delivered and so very cross-discipline relevant. Mark Boulton delivered essential stuff (I'll never look at a car park the same way). Ryan Sims was inpiring. Was it Wilson Miner that said, "some of the most important design decisions happen in code"? Genius. And I hardly understood a word Eric Meyer said (but as I've said, I'm on the periphery). Actually, "The Web has Won" is ingrained in my mind now.

I left with a head buzzing with ideas. Andy did a really great job and deserved that standing ovation... although I do think he could have given us a biscuit.

"Built"—love the title.

I agree, my head is still buzzing with ideas as well. And I hope next year is even better! High hopes! :)

It was a great event from start to finish. Big kudos to Andy for pulling off the mammoth task of organising speakers, workshops and auxiliary events, all of which seemed seamless.

It was interesting to see Malcolm Gladwell feature on a number of slides, I especially liked the quotation Ryan Simm's used, "Talent is the desire to practice".

I really enjoyed the HTML5 and CSS3 workshop you held on the Wednesday. The examples were easy to follow and it has made designing for the Web a lot more exciting. I was surprised to see how easy it is to implement HTML5 into our current designs — I'm glad we don't have to wait until 2022.

Thanks again for the great workshop… and the lollies!

Gutted I missed it, heard many other good reports, maybe next year..

A sound review of occurrences Sirs. I agree entirely. Mister Good on Paper deserves a humongous thud on the back for bringing an event of such remarkable stature to our shores.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to extend my thanks to yourselves for what was an equally astounding workshop. I thoroughly enjoyed the well-structured morning (HTML5) and afternoon (CSS3) sessions that allowed for the easy digestion of what was a considerable amount of content. I’m looking forward to putting your fine examples to good use in the very near future.

Build 2010? I’m most definitely there!

Build was a superb event. Everything about it flowed effortlessly, no doubt due to the tireless efforts of Andy. The fringe events really complimented the build-up to Thursday's conference.

I'll not reiterate what's already been said on other Build related blog entries regarding the speakers, but they were all fantastic.

I attended the Standardista's HTML5 and CSS3 workshop. It was delivered in a very relaxed manner but at a great pace. We covered a lot of ground in a short period of time and already I'm applying the practices learnt on the day to my everyday work. Christopher and Nicklas are a great duo and compliment each other's teaching style perfectly. They held my attention for the whole day.

The networking opportunities at Build were fantastic, I met some truly inspiring people which have motivated me to push on with my little freelance business.

I'm already looking forward to Build 2010 and can only hope for more great things from the Standardistas in the future.

To sum it up in an eBay feedback format:

A++++++ Would Build again.

I can really only echo the praises that have been sung by every person I had the pleasure to meet over the two days... I can't remember hearing a single bad word.

How many conferences have the honour of claiming that little accolade?! I think we should rename him to Andy DidGood...

I also want to say a special thanks to you guys for your highly enjoyable and informative workshop - you two make a great double-act!

What could have easily ended up being a rather dry day talking code was chocked-full of interesting content, attendee participation and general fun and banter. Oh, and yellow peppers.

I think it speaks volumes that half of the people there were either current or past students of yours.

Build 2010? Count me in.

Oh, and you have a few of us to thank for convincing Eric Meyer that throwing Chris in the Lagan for his birthday was probably not a great idea... :)

Thanks everyone for the comments, it's great to get your feedback on the workshop and we're absolutely delighted you all enjoyed it. (On that note, it's amazing to witness the effect Lots of Lollies, yellow peppers and free Linux books have on a workshop.)

@Yaili Thanks for the compliment. We're looking forward to seeing you next year, if not before.

@David I owe you (and the others) a huge thank you for persuading Eric that the 'river experience' might not be the best way to celebrate my 40th.

That said, I cannot think of a better way to mark my 40th than to have some of the world's most celebrated web designers and developers leading a chorus of 'Happy Birthday'. I won't forget that in a hurry.

I thought that Build was fantastic and far better than the FOWD London event I attended earlier this year. The choice of speakers and the quality of the talks really has made Build stand out from the various other web events that I have attended recently.

I also really enjoyed the HTML5 and CSS3 workshop that you guys held. This is an area that I had always wanted to learn about, but never really knew where to get started. Your workshop was really well organised and structured which meant that I learned a lot in a short amount of time. I feel that I could quite confidently start to use HTML5 and CSS3 now after the great start you guys gave me.

I also thought the idea to give participants memory sticks full of all the files that we covered throughout the day was genius.

Let me know if you plan any other workshops in the future as I would definitely want to attend.

Great review, Christopher!

Build was awesome. Andy McMillan excelled at organizing everything and picking a careful line-up of talented people for the workshops and conference talks.

Your workshop was a great suprise: I didn't know your work and I'd never read your book 'HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions', but it was sincerely a privilege to attend your workshop, not only for the knowledge you guys share, but for the way you engage people into the subject. Learning can be fun and, as you probably know, this is usually forgotten.

So, I'm keen for Build 2010, but thinking to myself how difficult Andy's work is going to be - you see, after this one, expecations are high. ;)

The ‘Build’ conference was great! The speakers were amazing and the workshops were brilliant! Any body who works as a designer, developer or is involved in the web shouldn't miss Build 2010! (Thanks to Andy McMillian who did a superb job in organising it).

I would also like to say big thanks to Chris and Nicklas. I attended your HTML5 and CSS3 workshop on the Wednesday in the Hilton Hotel, and learned so much. You guys make learning fun and your talks are always very interesting and informative. (I was still on a sugar rush the next day from all the lollies.)

If the Standardistas are having another workshop, I'll be there! Can’t wait for Build 2010!

Andy Good/McMillan deserves every credit for organising a fantastic conference and the standing ovation from all attendees at the end of the day summed up how much everyone appreciated the mammoth task of organising an event with such a fantastic line up of speakers! Kudos Andy. :-)

On the Wednesday I attended the Standardistas' HTML5 and CSS3 workshop, I can now confidently say that I know my “stuff” when it comes to coding a site in HTML5 and CSS3. The tweed duo have a fun teaching style that makes you feel constantly engaged as they reward you for your participation with delicious treats. I would like to thank Chris and Nick for such an enjoyable day, and hope to be attending your next event sometime in the near future. :-)

Build 2010 – I can’t wait.

Leave a comment