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Thoughts on DIBI

Yesterday I made the trip up to Gateshead (Newcastle) for the first ever DIBI web conference. I’d never been to any kind of industry conference before and needless to say, it was one hell of an experience.

DIBI, an acronym for “Design it, Build it” is a two-track conference meaning that there was one schedule for design talks (the ones I attended) and another for development talks with the option to move between tracks if you so wished.

Let me say, right from the off that the event was just excellent! Gavin Elliott and the team did an insanely great job of putting it together, not just in terms of the speaker line-up, which was superb but all the extras too. We were provided food, drink and stationary in the form of a field notes notebook not to mention a great after party with a free bar and free pizza. I heard from many people who had been to the likes of FOWD and dConstruct that DIBI blew them out of the water in terms of talks, atmosphere, professionalism and of course price and value.

The Talks

These were all great. The organisers couldn’t have got together a more wonderful group of speakers. Adii, Sarah Parmenter, Tim Van Damme, Simon Collison, Dan Rubin and Andy Clarke all gave inspiring, in some cases surprisingly helpful talks about a variety of web design issues from how to involve design in your startup from day one all the way through to taking a “hardboiled” approach to browser and device support.

DIBI Audience

I found all of the talks to be relevant but I did come away with some personal highlights. Simon Collison’s unparalleled obsession with design theory was beyond inspiring. He took a single dot and through manipulating it in various ways explored how the most basic shapes or colours can communicate so much more than what most would believe. I also found myself hugely surprised at how useful I found Sarah Parmenter’s talk about the principles of iPhone UI design. I learned things about Apple’s UI guidelines and app store entry requirements than I ever thought existed.

My favourite talk of the day, though had to be Hardboiled Web Design with Andy Clarke. I’ve always been a fan of his direct, uncompromising approach to browser support and his ethos of build for the best browser then strip back layers of eye candy accordingly for the older ones. In that respect, his talk didn’t really cover anything new but what it did push, and very well, was the “why” in all of this. He spoke about how when it comes to users, ignorance is bliss and that we should all wake up to the fact that most clients don’t even know what a browser is, let alone know that there are many available. As long as what they see in the browser is appropriate for purpose, they’ll enjoy the eye candy if their browser supports it and won’t miss it if they’re running IE it doesn’t. I certainly left inspired to push the boundaries in my next project and also to make Safari my default browser.

The Extra Bits

Like I mentioned before the organisers made sure everyone was well looked after. We all got field notes notebooks, as much coffee and juice as we wanted and ice cream and free Red Bull in the afternoon. On top of this, lunch was thrown in as well. Parking? Yeah they made sure it only cost me £3 for the whole day. Blam!

DIBI provided attendees with not one but two parties and although I didn’t make the first one I’m told it was excellent. The after party with open bar and free pizza was nothing short of legendary. The venue was a little hot and a little cramped but I’d be a dick if I said that made a difference. There was poker, roulette and blackjack tables (all playing for funny money, of course) and of course it was an excellent opportunity to meet great people and put faces to @names.

These guys clearly believe that it’s the little things that make a big difference.

Shout Outs.

Well here’s where I name drop a little bit. Firstly, a massive virtual pat on the back to Gavin Elliott and the team for pulling off an event with such gloss and precision. You’d think they’d been doing it for years. Now on to the excellent people I met. Ash Baxter, Paul Stanton, Chris Spooner, Amy Mahon, John O’Nolan, Adii (and the rest of the WooTeam) David Appleyard, Sam Brown, Jack Osborne, Sean Hood, Emma Persky, Hector Simpson, Andrzej Kała, and so many others who I’m struggling to name as my brain reached capacity about 7pm, you guys were great too.


Next year? Oh hell yeah! 😀


  1. Adam - April 29, 2010 11:14 am

    Nice, seems like you had a great time. AND it sounds like you met a great bunch of people!

    I’m up in Newcastle this weekend, its an awesome place to be!

    Posts like this make me want to bite the bullet and go to a conference like DiBi.

  2. holeycoww - April 29, 2010 11:15 am

    Damn dude, so wish I could have made it. I was going to snap that extra ticket off you also!

    Excellent write up bro, seems to good to miss. I think I’m in for next year!

  3. Rick - April 29, 2010 11:36 am

    I wish I could have made this one, I nearly got there but god damn work got in the way. It looks like I’ll have to make it to the next one.

  4. Pingback: DIBI Web Conference | Sarah Parmenter, a web and UI designer.

  5. Amy - April 29, 2010 10:23 pm

    Aahhhh good – now I don’t have to do a write-up because this is exactly how I feel! It was such a good time. Will see you back there next year!!

  6. Dan - April 29, 2010 10:55 pm

    Great write up, and a great event.Your summary of Andy Clarke’s talk is spot on – very inspiring, Dan Rubin too. I wrote my own little review: http://www.consil.co.uk/blog/2010/04/29/dibi-2010/

    btw somehow I am almost smack in the middle of your photo!

    Free bar = sore head!

    … tickets already on sale for next year

  7. Pingback: Consilience Blog » Blog Archive » DIBI 2010

  8. Herb Kim - April 29, 2010 11:52 pm

    Thanks for the writeup & in particular thanks for noticing the “extra bits”. We spend a lot of time worrying about the secret sauce in user experience and the team, led by Gavin & Ellie Silson, really hit the sweetspot for DIBI 2010.


  9. Ashley - April 30, 2010 10:26 am

    Agreed. I’m already going to book my ticket for next year, that’s how sure I am of returning. Like I said, it was great to finally meet you. See you again next year!

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