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One of the many perks of working for a digital agency is that we often get chances to go to a variety of conferences; providing us with the opportunity to learn about some of the latest and greatest tools being developed in our field and to meet some of the people who are just as enthusiastic and passionate about what we do as we are.

As such, when I was given the opportunity to head down to Bristol for Pixel Pioneers, I simply couldn’t pass it up!

People gathering to look at a screen saying

Bristol-bound boffins

Team Aajogo was made up of myself, Nicola and Sean. We arrived in Bristol in the early evening and after checking into our hotel went straight for a well-deserved (as we had been working up until lunchtime before setting off) dinner of plant-based pasta.

Let’s get quizzical

Pixel Pioneers festivities started a little early for us, as we went to the Pub Quiz held by one of the organisers of the conference and sponsored by zeroheight. Once we got settled in, we introduced ourselves to our new teammates to form Team Computer Spiders (geddit? Because we’re Web Developers!) and a night of nerdy trivia ensued. We put in a valiant effort almost acing the picture round, the gaming round, and the first music round, but ultimately getting bested by one of the later music rounds. We ended up coming joint 3rd out of 6 teams.

Pixel Pioneers (A.K.A ButtonConf)

On Friday morning, we made our way to MShed, picked up our conference passes and got settled in for the veritable feast for the brain that lay ahead of us.

All of the talks on the day were fantastic and all of the speakers were brilliant! Here’s a few of the talks that the team enjoyed:

Declarative Design – by Jeremy Keith

The conference was kicked off by Jeremy Keith with his talk on Declarative Design. In this talk, he covered the differences between Imperative Design and Declarative Design.

Jeremy tells us that Imperative Design is the process by which you plan out every step of how something is going to work and execute the plan to the letter.

Whereas Declarative Design is the process by which you plan out what your end goal is and leave the way to get there up to the process.
It was one of those talks that really gets you thinking about the tools you’re using, how you’re using them, and ultimately how to make them the most adaptable they can be to any given users’ needs and preferences.

Overall, it was a good thought piece on how to approach design systems when it comes to making websites!

Animating the Impossible – Cassie Evans

One of the last talks of the day was a fascinating look into the world of animation with Cassie Evans. She talked about what she likes to call “browser sleight-of-hand”, essentially harnessing how our brain perceives images and motion in order to make aesthetically pleasing but comparatively lightweight animations on our webpages.

Some of the points I found most interesting in her talks were:

  • Guiding Animations – whereby an element on the page changes position to better indicate what a piece of website functionality does. The example Cassie used was moving a product into a basket on an ecommerce site to make it clear that the user had added the product to their basket.
  • Change Blindness – normally when we refresh a page on a website, we get a flash of a blank screen and then everything loads back in, which can be disorienting. Similarly, if you closed your eyes, walked through a door, and opened your eyes again it would take you a moment to re-orient yourself and get a read on what’s going on around you. On the web at least, well thought out page transitions can help a user reorient themselves when a page changes.

This talk was definitely one of the most fun talks I’ve ever watched and animation to improve user experience is definitely something I’ll be looking into!

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Being my first ever non-local conference experience, Pixel Pioneers was something special for me. Getting to know the people I work with better in a city that was new to all of us and being able to nerd out over the things we do best while learning from some of the best in the business is truly one of the best parts of doing this job. Roll on next year!

A selfie of Jamie, Sean and Nicki