SmashingConf Live! Is A Wrap

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Rachel Andrew is a web developer, writer and speaker. She is the author of a number of books, including The New CSS Layout. She is one of the people behind the … More about Rachel ↬

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The SmashingConf team had such fun at their first SmashingConf Live! event last week. In this post, editor-in-chief Rachel Andrew shares highlights and feedback from the online conference.

Last week, we ran our very first SmashingConf Live! event, the first in a series of online events taking us through to the end of 2020. We had an amazing two days and we hope that all of our speakers and attendees did too. In this post, I’ll round up some of the key moments and feedback we’ve had.

A Team Spread Around The World

Here at Smashing, we take remote, distributed working to the extreme, and are very used to dealing with all of our different timezones. However, the conferences are the one time when most of us are together in one place. With all of us in our home locations and timezones, things were very different this time. We shared pictures of our setups in the Slack for the event, and lots of attendees joined in the fun and showed us how they were attending the conference themselves.

Some of the desks that brought you SmashingConf Live!
Top row (left to right): Amanda, Charis and Jarijn, Rachel. Bottom row (left to right): Phil, Vitaly, Tobi

It takes a lot of people to bring you an online multi-track conference, so the full team taking care of everything and everyone behind the scenes on the day were:

  • Andrea de Souza (Volunteer): Canada
  • Amanda Annandale (Head of Events): Bristol, UK
  • Bash Choudhry (Volunteer): USA
  • Bethany Andrew (Event Assistant): London, UK
  • Charis Rooda (Marketing Coordinator): Hong Kong
  • Esther Fernández (Partnerships Coordinator): Barcelona, Spain
  • Jan Constantin (Smashing Team): Freiburg, Germany
  • Jarijn Nijkamp (Membership Lead): Hong Kong
  • Marc Thiele (Board Member): Dusseldorf, Germany
  • Mariona Ciller (Partnerships Manager): Barcelona, Spain
  • Rachel Andrew (Editor-in-Chief): Bristol, UK
  • Raffaella Isidori (Volunteer): Milan, Italy
  • Ricardo Gimenes (Illustrator): Malmö, Sweden
  • Vitaly Friedman (Co-Founder): Dusseldorf, Germany

Our Conference Platform

When selecting a conference platform it was important to us to have something that would enable the fun and interactivity of an in-person SmashingConf. We wanted to have sidetracks, games, places to ask questions of our speakers, all along with main stage content. While we use Zoom for workshops, we didn’t feel that asking you all to sit through two days of Zoom meetings would be very Smashing at all.

The platform mid-session
We're running our conferences on Hopin, a friendly, inclusive platform, with Smashing branding and plenty of cats. With interactive, live sessions and live captioning. Watch a video preview. (Large preview)

Amanda and the rest of the team looked at a number of options and we ultimately chose to use Hopin. We trialed the platform for our Smashing Meets events, but this was the first time we would be running at such a scale. Everything worked really well, and speakers and attendees seemed to like the setup. As a speaker, I found it felt far more interactive than the usual online conference solutions, and less like I was presenting to my office wall!

A Lot Of Fun, And A Lot Of Learning

With multiple sessions happening at once we had a lot of speakers sharing their knowledge with us. As with our in-person events, everyone created shared Google Docs of takeaways over the two days — Day One, Day Two. MC Phil Hawksworth kept everything on track on the main stage.

Some amazing sketchnotes were created by Ximena which give you a snapshot of the key takeaways from many of the talks and sessions.

We even had our conference DJ Tobi playing some tunes between the mainstage talks — just like at our in-person events.


We felt that a virtual conference should have badges too. So, for SmashingConf Live we had badges featuring a variety of cats. Attendees tried to find all of the different cats — all 96 of them!

A preview of some of the badges used at SmashingConf Live! of Topple the Cat in a variety of disguises
Friendly SmashingConf badges for cat collectors! Every attendee gets their own badge and can trade them when meeting new people. Illustrated by our cherished illustrator, Ricardo Gimenes.

It really did feel like an event, rather than a webinar, and it was great to see so many people — and to meet their cats! That’s something we don’t get to do at our usual events.

Wishing You Were There?

If you wish you could have joined us then you have three more chances for some SmashingConf online fun! We’ve taken all of our 2020 events online, which means that between now and the end of the year you have three to choose from.

SmashingConf Freiburg Online (Sep 7–8)

SmashingConf Freiburg Online 2020The SmashingConf Freiburg is moving online on the original dates: September 7th–8th. One track, two days and 13 speakers, with all of the actionable insights you expect from SmashingConf. We’ll be running the event tied to the timezone in Germany — making this a great event for Europeans. Check out the schedule, and buy tickets here.

SmashingConf Austin/NY Online (Oct 13–14)

SmashingConf Austin Online 2020We have combined the programming for New York and Austin as these two events were so close together and similar to each other. We’ll be running this event in Central time, just as if we were all in Austin. Check out the schedule, and buy tickets here. We’d love to see you in October!

SmashingConf SF Online (Nov 10–11)

SmashingConf San Francisco Online 2020In PST, join us for a SmashingConf San Francisco on November 10th–11th. The schedule and tickets are online for you to take a look at. We’ll be sure to have a great celebration for our final event of 2020!

Can’t wait to virtually see you there!

Smashing Editorial (il)