Handheld Conference – Part I.

23rd November 2012

Reading Time:

Last weekend, through the cold, the dark and the rain, Chris and I made the long journey over to Cardiff. Not for rugby, not for shopping, but for Handheld Conference; a series of talks based around mobile technologies.

Right now, mobile is big news. And by “mobile” I don’t just mean your smartphone; tablets are getting more powerful and affordable, netbooks and laptops are getting more portable, even consoles and TVs can provide access to the Internet. Clearly, mobile is here and it’s not going away.

Taking place in St. David’s Hotel in Cardiff Bay, the conference boasted a strong line-up of speakers from Wales, the UK and beyond. There were representatives from Microsoft and Facebook, and speakers in roles ranging from copywriters and engineers to designers and developers.

After an early registration and more breakfast pastries and coffees than I should have had, we piled in to get started…

NB – I haven’t covered all the presenters at Handheld in these posts, otherwise I could go on all day. Rest assured though, everyone was worth listening to, and I’d urge everyone to take a look at the videos when they’re released!

Keir Whitaker kicked things off, taking things in an unexpected direction from the beginning. In this case, “mobile” referred to the book that Keir published (as Viewport Industries) with Elliot Jay Stocks, founder of 8faces. Keir gave us an insight into the production of Insites: The Book along with some of the choices and situations – both good and bad – that the two of them had to deal with.

Lee Armstrong impressed as he revealed some of the inner-workings of Plane Finder and Ship Finder, apps from his company pinkfroot. Inspired by Google, Facebook and Twitter – the giants of big data – Lee explained their fascinating solutions for dealing with massive amounts of information, along with fluctuating levels of people accessing it.

I knew that Dave Addey (MD of Agant) was due to talk about apps, which I didn’t think would be relevant to us, but his section proved one of the most engaging of the day – and that’s saying something. As an app-developer, one thing Dave hears most is “I have an idea for an app…” but as he mentioned, “Not every idea is a good idea and not every good idea would make a good app“.

Dave explained that ideas can be judged across three axis – Universal AppealInternational Appeal andLasting Appeal – using Agant’s projects as examples (such as the BAFTA Award-nominated Malcomn Tucker app).

Robert Mills and Rob Lo Bue both spoke – in separate talks – about the importance of content. Robert was particularly vocal about the benefits of a content-first strategy, while Rob was an advocate of not alienating users through your content. He demonstrated this by beginning his talk in German – in a room full of mostly English-speakers. Point taken!

Soon after, it was time for lunch – so let’s take a break there! I’ll be back with the rest on Monday!

Edit: Part II has now been posted.

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About the author

Rik Kendell is a developer, designer and writer in Leeds, UK, specialising in responsive WordPress websites. With over 10 years experience in the industry, Rik has worked on award-winning teams at agencies, in-house and as a freelancer. Rik has worked with clients ranging from the NHS, Sky and Skipton Building Society to McDonalds, Lamb’s Navy Rum and Crabbie’s Ginger Beer.

Outside of work Rik is also a keen writer, an amateur woodworker, gamer and foodie. His blog posts, reviews and Tweets have been published by the BBC, the Evening Standard, the Guardian and the Independent. He has written guest posts for a number of agencies and industry websites.