Why we created Frontier Conference

If you love every aspect of front-end, which conference do you choose? We couldn’t decide, so we made our own.

It was an afternoon in June 2015 when I received the text message that started this all off. “I think we should put on a conference, I already know you’re up for it.” — said John.

“Yes, we should, and I am.”

Why conferences are great

A good conference has the power to give your career and your morale the emotional and intellectual equivalent of a really healthy can of Red Bull.

You come away supercharged, reminded that, yes, you really do work in the most exciting industry in the world. It is in this sense that we chose our name “frontier” (aside from the obvious ‘front’ connection) — We are in many ways at the very forward edge of human existence and experience.

As front-enders we get to design and develop the very tools and services through which people live their lives — that’s something we should stop to celebrate every now and then. That’s why we tagged Frontier Conference a ‘one day celebration of everything front-end’.

I say a ‘healthy’ can of Red Bull, because the lasting affects of a great conference can stay with you for years. John and I still frequently refer to our Keynote Aral Balkan’s A Happy Grain of Sand years after we first saw it at Handheld 2012.

Today’s Front End: a Vast Frontier

Training Junior Web Developers in 2015 made me realise the other sense in which the front-end is a ‘frontier’: It’s massive.

The range of technologies, of human factors, device sizes, connection speeds, user locations we have to consider is growing all the time. “As a retina display user on a 3G connection I want to see amazing imagery and have a website load quickly in order to love the product and experience of your site” is one of the most common, and most challenging dilemmas front-enders face.

The truth is, we love the challenges of the new front-end. We love caring about details, like setting our line-height to the Golden Ratio, and also about being able to hook up a full-stack application that can run natively on mobile and online; about being able to use beautiful typography from the likes of Hoefler and Frere-Jones (we use Knockout at frontierconf.com); about the design potential of flexbox, about the power of CSS pre-processors to help us have manageable, expressive CSS; and about being able to write our server and client side logic in JavaScript, the language of the web.

We’re both freelance developers, so can only manage to get to one conference a year. If you love everything about the front-end, which conference do you choose? We couldn’t decide, so we made our own.

The Missing Conference

In such a vast field as ours, it is not surprising that people, and conferences specialise. One of our speakers, Richard Rutter, hosts the Web Typography conference Ampersand annually (it’s still on my wishlist), and over the years we’ve been to many other JavaScript, handheld, user experience, product and web conferences.

What we’ve tried to do with Frontier is create something a little different; our only specialism is that we want to cover the whole of the front-end in one day. Just as your day as a designer or developer in the wild could come into contact with many of our ‘core tenets’ of front-end: user experience, design, CSS, development, future technology, typography and, crucially, inspiration — we have tried to curate a conference that does the same thing.

Our Lineup

We’re so excited about our lineup for Frontier Conference 2016, because we think our incredible speakers enable us to achieve exactly what we set out to do.

In the design corner, we’ve got ethical designer Aral Balkan as keynote on human experiences of design (anything could happen!); interaction designer Amy Whitney on design at GitHub, which somehow seems to fit our ‘full spectrum’ of front-end so nicely; designer and founder of the stunning online and print Sidetracked Magazine, John Summerton on designing across all mediums, typography legend Richard Rutter talking about web typography (he is literally writing the book on the subject!); and User Experience Designer Ross Chapman from Wiggle talking about the practical side of actually delivering great user experiences.

On the development end of the spectrum; the brave and thoroughly entertaining developer Ben Foxall will be live coding across hundreds of devices; creative technologist Ruth John will teach us what it takes to become a Street VJ; and senior designer and author Zoe M. Gillenwater will take us through using Flexbox Today.

What a day!

We also still have very limited availability for our Advanced Angular Workshop, run by industry expert Todd Motto, on the 10th March. Workshop tickets come with the conference ticket included.

The Perks

We were serious when we said that Frontier Conference is a celebration. And that’s why we’ve hunted down KERB to provide us with some of the best authentic street food vendors in London: Indian, Italian, Mexican, BBQ and proper espresso-based coffee will all be available.

The after party goes without saying, but in case it doesn’t, there’s an after party at the venue, with free drinks and great networking opportunities.

What do you think?

Do you like the sound of our conference? Great! Go get a ticket now and make sure it happens!

Not for you? No problem, we’re always open to hearing why! Give us a shout on Twitter.