6 November 2009, in Events | 15 comments »

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending Build Conference, in sunny Belfast. I don’t usually write posts on particular conferences, but here’s the exception to the rule, because it certainly deserves one.

An overview

Build is a new conference for web designers and this was its first edition.

The speakers’ lineup was what caught my attention at first, and the fact that it is easy enough to get to Belfast from London also helped.

It was brilliantly organised by Andy McMillan plus some nice volunteers.

Quick recap and review of the presentations

Tim Van Damme, “Passion”

Build Conference 2009
Photo by belfastkeith

Presentation on Slideshare

Tim spoke about the passion that drives him and told us how to explore and use that passion. He also gave some handy tips on how to work better and, most important, how to properly open a banana.

This was Tim’s first presentation at an event of this size, and what a start! I’ve told him personally how awesome the presentation was, but I’m saying it again. The content was interesting and presented in an interesting way. We were on to a great start

Andy Budd, “Seductive Design”

Mr Budd taught us how we can apply the art of seduction in our designs. His presentation included striptease, dancing, partial nudity and the throwing of free toys (sorry, Russell, you’ve been surpassed).

It was witty, clever, engaging and basically perfect.

I think this was when the audience started to realise that we were in for a treat with Build…

Mark Boulton, “Font Embedding and Typography”

Mark Boulton's presentation at Build

I had already seen a version of Mark’s presentation at Future of Web Design London, earlier this year, but it was still to remember. He spoke about typography on the web, how we can work with constrains and what the future may look like. Also, lots of hints to Andy Budd’s and Clearleft‘s upcoming FontDeck.

Ryan Sims, “The Playing Field: Practice Makes Pixel-Perfect”

After letting us know in detail how he was supposed to have been a successful basketball player, Ryan talked about how talent is directly related to practise. Another fabulous presentation that won the award for Best Slides Design (at least in my opinion).

By this time, my head was hurting—the content was too good for it to take it all in at once.

Wilson Miner, “Design & Build: How to be an effective hybrid”

Wilson explained how he thinks we should lean in to other interests we might have, not only be a designer or a developer, but be a hybrid

The message was delivered in the form of some very sleek slides with transitions that made us all drool (was that Keynote, Wilson?). It was that good.

Eric Meyer, “A More Tangled Web”

You can’t really go wrong when the final speaker of your conference is Eric Meyer, can you?

Mr Meyer spoke about what he thinks the future of the web will be, how it will leave the browser and even the computer more often, and how plugins will be replaced by scripts.


And with the ending slide, I believe most of us were already penciling the conference in for next year. Andy got a standing ovation, and we left for the pub.

We were happy.

I didn’t hear any negative comments in the corridors or on Twitter, like it happens most of the times at these events. No-one was annoyed at being pitched by sponsors, because we weren’t.

Even the lack of proper wifi was overlooked—give us free tea and coffee without the hassle of coupons and we’ll be fine (no herbal tea though, Andy…).

Basically, Build pushed all the right buttons: the speakers were great and approachable, we didn’t feel like we were inside a big pitch, and there was actually free beer during the whole night at the after party!


Everyone was amazing: speakers, attendees, volunteers. But that isn’t really any different from the other conferences—web folks are generally a very nice faction of the population.

As usual, I had the pleasure of catching up with people I already knew and meet some great new people.

To name a few: Andy, Si, Nik, Eamonn, Maykel, Lee, Paddy, Sam, Standardistas, Dave, João, Nuno, Jonathan, Eric, Andy, Tim, Paulo, Daniel, Martin, Bruno, David, Ian, Jason, Colin, Heather.

The future

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!

Other #buildconf recaps

Note: I’ll update this post with links to the presentations as the links start coming up online.

  • Sounds like an awesome time, might have to see if I can make it next year.

    Were the talks recorded, do you know?

    • @Stanton:

      I know Andy has got most the talks recorded on video and is planning to publish them in the coming weeks. There was also mention of a DVD if there was enough interest.


      Yet another fantastic report from the event. It was great to catch up properly and introduce you to the wonderful world of Guinness. Apologies for any steaming hangover on the big day.

  • You were greatly missed :)

    I know someone was recording the event, not sure if that included the presentations though.

  • Great writeup yaili! It really was a kick ass conference. Really nice meeting you too. Hope to see you soon! :)

    • Indeed it was! Too bad I couldn’t stay in Belfast longer though. Great meeting you too ;)

  • Nice writeup and good to see you again Yaili. See you at the next one!

  • Sounds amazing. Guess I should have gone :)

    • Yes, you should have. But I got something for you! :)

  • Will definitely not be missing the next one. Great write-up!

  • Yaili,
    Awesome synopsis of Build. Like I said to Andy: hope this one was the first of many.

  • Yaili, it was a real pleasure meeting you and sharing a lovely dinner with you and some of the above fine people in the comments. I’m looking forward to the next event, soon, no doubt.

    I think you touch on one of the critical aspects of the success of Build, namely, it was hosted in Belfast. (Not a city one usually associates with the global web design circuit and, just as important – in a good way – not London, New York, Chicago or the usual web design conference city.)

    The friendliness of the Belfast web design community (I’m originally from Hong Kong via Glasgow, so unbiased here), coupled with the intimacy of the event (it was so easy to meet the speakers informally for a chat) made for an absolutely fantastic event.

    I’m treasuring your business card – lovely letterpress – and I’m looking forward to meeting you again at some point soon.

    Lastly, Mr Bruno, star of our HTML5 and CSS3 Build Workshop, let’s stay in touch Sir, it was a pleasure working with you.

    • Oh, here come the #buildconf blues again — a week ago today I was arriving in Belfast :(

      Hopefully we’ll all meet again very soon, for an even better time, no doubt!

      Many thanks for your comment :)

  • Great write-up summing up Build. I’ve been asked which talk was my favourite and I’ve found it difficult to pin-point just one. Very much looking forward to another “fucking lethal’ conference next year.

  • Great post man! Wish I was there…

  • Must watch for every enthusiast. Great *build*