On the Road to SXSW Interactive

South by Southwest (SXSW) is a conference and festival held annually in Austin, TX. First held in 1987, it originated as a way for local musicians to reach out to a diverse, national audience. Since then it’s expanded to two full weeks covering subjects such as: movies, sports, health, comedy, education, and high-tech. The goal of this year’s 22nd SXSW remains as strong as ever – forming a community of creative minds.

March 17th I’ll be giving a workshop at SXSW Interactive, the portion specially focused for cutting-edge, digital thinkers. The four-hour session is entitled “What’s Before Mobile First?” and I’m going to share my hard-earned best practices. The goal of the workshop is to present tools and tactics that will help web developers and technically minded designers to better build, test, and measure their websites before taking them live in a world full of mobile devices.

Mobile First Thinking

“Mobile First” is a phrase reminding us the importance of creating user experiences that meet the needs of all our customers.  In years past, embracing smartphones and tablets was novel – now it’s a necessity. With so many highly capable consumer devices in existence there is now an expectation that the look and feel of our websites are responsive, and work perfectly on them.

Building a mobile first website is not easy, and guaranteeing your website will look great on handhelds is a creative challenge. An extra complexity is that new mobile technology is quickly emerging within the market. If you want to make fantastic experiences for those devices you’ll need powerful tools.

Pretenders, Analytics and Debugging on Device

Pretenders refer to emulators and simulators. These software tools are installed on a developer’s laptop, which allows them to continue working even when mobile hardware isn’t available. I’ll be demonstrating tools from Google and Apple.

Analytics is all about measuring customer interaction with your website. Data-driven reports provide metrics around what devices people use when viewing your site, and what they do when they get there. I’ll be showing Google Analytics, a leading tool for tracking and reporting device brand names, operating systems, and popular touch-points of your site.

Safari and Chrome desktop browsers also have built in tools to remotely debug your website on device. While a handheld is connected to your development machine via USB you can have a look under the hood and watch it performing. Running on device builds confidence that you’ll ship with fewer bugs while delivering more polish.

Sit In or Catch Up

If you’re attending SXSW Interactive this year consider signing up for my workshop on mobile first web development. I’ll introduce you to new tools, and provide deeper insights on your old favorites. I’ve been working hard on this talk to make it engaging and informative.

If you’re not coming out to SXSW please take advantage of my public resources. These are all available to you right now, and I think you’ll find them useful: