Pixel Pioneers' international speakers talk faster websites and visual fluency

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  • Pixel Pioneers - the major new conference focusing on web design and development - arrives at the Waterfront Hall this week (November 16&17).
    Ahead of the main event, we caught up with speakers Harry Roberts and Eva-Lotta Lamm to find out more about faster websites and the value of visual thinking to the design process.
    HARRY ROBERTS is an award-winning front-end architect who has worked with global organisations including Google, Unilever and the UN. A Leeds-based Google Developer Expert, he writes on the subjects of CSS architecture, performance, and scalability at csswizardry.com and tweets at @csswizardry.
    Harry’s presentation will focus on emerging economies and design for the next billion users, almost all of whom will be accessing the internet via mobile.
    “It is estimated that just over a billion people will be coming online over the next 5 to 10 years,” he says.
    “These are people who have never had the internet before and they're coming predominantly from the Middle East, Southeast Asia as well as South America.”
    Ericsson’s Mobility Report predicts that 90% of the world's population (over 6 years old) will have a mobile phone by 2020. But Google Developer’s Web Fundamentals suggests high data cost incurred by accessing heavy page weight will be the biggest barrier to connectivity.
    So reducing page weight will help businesses acquire new audiences and boost revenue streams. (Free tools like Web Page Test and What Does My Site Cost? help developers estimate the actual financial cost of loading a site.)
    Harry cites Chris Zacharias’s ‘Project Feather’ (which saw YouTube garnering new audiences around the world after reducing page weight from 2.5MB to under 100kb) and the curious case of the New York Jewish dating site that found love in India.
    “The Ignighter dating site is an interesting one. No one in New York was using the site, but because the developers had built the site to be quite fast a lot of people in the Middle East started using it. The developers saw a huge increase in traffic from completely unexpected areas. That's an example of an influx of traffic that they didn’t predict, plan for or even see coming,” says Harry.
    “Ultimately, we’re reaching an intersection where connections are getting slower and websites are getting heavier. So we’ll focus on just what these emerging markets mean to us, and how we can begin to move in the right direction,” he says.
    He’s now looking forward to returning to Belfast.
    “A couple of years ago, I spent the day with Deloitte Digital’s Sprint and Development Team working on the scalability of their applications. It was a great chance to spend some time in the city and explore a good amount of the local hospitality!” he says.

    EVA-LOTTA LAMM is a user experience designer, illustrator and visual thinker who has worked with Google, Skype and Yahoo amongst others. Now a Berlin-based consultant, she has provided illustrations for Content Everywhere and The User’s Journey, and regularly publishes sketchnotes via her website sketchnotesbook.comShe tweets at @evalottchen
    Sketching is a fantastic medium for getting ideas out of your head and to collaborate with other people in a quick and immediate way,” Eva-Lotta explains.

    As her design career developed, Eva-Lotta found herself taking notes in an increasingly visual way when attending talks and conferences. 

    Sketchnoting is all about mixing written words with sketches to capture ideas and “to anchor the content in my head”. 

    My notes are also more engaging to review so I actually look at them again and use them later,” she says.

    In order to produce a great sketchnote, there are four main areas to focus on - text, images, spatial arrangement and additional structuring elements.

    “Words capture specific content, images provide visual anchors to guide our eyes around the page, spatial arrangement shows which ideas belong together, and the structural elements highlight connections and relationships,” she says.

     “Sketching can seem a daunting tasks, especially if you don’t consider yourself as an artist. But first of all, it's important to start somewhere – any sketch is better than no sketch at all. The most valuable aspect of sketching is how it transforms and clarifies your thinking in the process. The aesthetic quality of the final sketch only secondary.”

    In addition to speaking on ‘Visual Literacy and Visual Fluency’ on Thursday, Eva-Lotta will be leading a workshop on Friday on sketching during the UX design process, covering theory and practical exercises around sketching layouts, interactions and whole user flows.

    For Eva-Lotta, visual expression is a language every bit a powerful as verbal communication.
    “Some things are just easier expressed and understood in a visual way,” she says. “I actually find it quite hard to explain anything slightly complex without a pen in my hand!”

    About Pixel Pioneers

    Pixel Pioneers is aimed in particular at small design agencies, freelancers and students. The programme features a range of in-depth talks, practical workshops and social networking events.
    The programme kicks off with a free informal get-together, An Evening with Shopify, in The Black Box on Wednesday, featuring presentation by Paul McKeever, Nicola Carruthers and the BBC's David Bailey. 
    The main conference takes place on Thursday, November 16 and will see talks from:
    ·  Una Kravets - New York-based front-end developer, writer and podcaster
    ·  Laura Elizabeth - independent designer and writer
    ·  Harry Roberts - front-end architect who’s worked with Google, Unilever and the UN
    ·  Chris Armstrong - the founder of Niice, a design platform used by Nike, Sony and TIME
    ·  Eva-Lotta Lamm - user experience designer, illustrator and visual thinker, formerly at Google, Skype, and Yahoo
    ·  Sareh Heidari - web developer at BBC News
    ·  Sharon Steed - communications consultant and public speaker
    ·  Christopher Murphy - Ulster University interactive design lecturer and writer
    Presentations will include how to’s on: creating an app on a shoestring budget; launching new products and side projects; building scalable websites; and building powerful online communities.
    For further information about Pixel Pioneers and to register your place, log on to https://pixelpioneers.co.
    For 10% off your ticket, which also applies to Harry Roberts' and Eva-Lotta's workshops, visit here

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