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FrontEndNorth 2016

Full-day conference, Friday September 30th, 2016 at Sheffield City Hall

An event for front-end developers, designers and people who make things for the web taking place on September 30th, 2016 at Sheffield City Hall.

Returning from a year's hiatus after our successful debut in 2014 we can't wait to bring the front-end development community together for another great day of learning, insight and inspiration!

View tickets and purchase

Our Speaker Line-up for 2016

This year we're excited to have 14 fantastic speakers covering a wide range of front-end development topics.

Harry Roberts

Harry Roberts

Consultant Front-end Architect


Lea Verou

Lea Verou

Front-end Developer and Author


Stu Robson

Stuart Robson

Front-end Developer & Consultant


Tammie Lister

Tammie Lister

UX Designer at Automattic


Robin Whittleton

Robin Whittleton

Head of Front-end for the GDS Team


Chris Hutchinson

Chris Hutchinson

Newsroom Developer at The Times


Katie Fenn

Katie Fenn

Senior Software Engineer at Canonical


Charlotte Jackson

Charlotte Jackson

Front-end Developer at Clearleft


Lightning Speakers

Graham Armfield

Graham Armfield

Accessibility Consultant & Web Developer


Adam Onishi

Adam Onishi

Web Developer at The Financial Times


Kirsty Burgoine

Kirsty Burgoine

Front-end & WordPress Developer at Fisheye


Phil Lennon

Phil Lennon

Freelance Frontend & WordPress Developer


Daniel Furze

Daniel Furze

Senior FE Developer at Code Computerlove


Graeme Robinson

Graeme Robinson

Freelance Web Designer & University Student


A Full Day of Front-end Goodness

This is a provisional schedule: timings, topics and the order of speakers are set to change over the coming days. We assure you that the day will be stuffed with talks of various majestic topics.


Doors open for registration and refeshments.

9.40am - 10.00am

FrontEndNorth 2016 begins with opening remarks, including a word from our headline sponsor Sky Bet and details of our fantastic competition prizes.

10.00am - 10.30am

Lightning Talks

Autism and the Web - Graeme Robinson

This talk will address how the web is a great learning tool for people on the autistic spectrum like myself. Based on my life experiences, I will explain how computer technology made me the person I am today, and how it can help others. I will also bring to attention how natural creativity and front-end web development work together to make amazing websites, concluding with how employers can benefit from having an autistic worker on their team.

Automated regression testing / Automated performance testing - Daniel Furze

I will be demonstrating the implementation of visual regression testing, and will be talking about the benefits of doing so.

Using Flexbox to create dynamic layouts - Kirsty Burgoine

Building websites for CMS systems can be tricky, you need an approach to layouts that can allow for an unknown amount of content. Enter Flexbox. Flexbox isn’t a new technique, but still many front end developers shy away from it. Maybe its a fear of the unknown, maybe its the age old browser support issue that puts them off. This talk will take a practical approach to using Flexbox to create dynamic, “Flexible” layouts.

10.35am - 11.35am

Refactoring CSS Without Losing Your Mind - Harry Roberts

Working with CSS is tricky enough as it is; working with legacy CSS can be nightmarish. In this talk, we’ll look at how we decide what to refactor and when; how we can refactor code whilst still shipping features; how to avoid regressions when adding new CSS; how we can avoid the dreaded refactoring tunnels; running new and legacy code in tandem; and a bunch of other neat little tips and tricks.

11.25am - 11.45am

Mid-morning break with refreshments.

11.45am - 12.25pm

Developing the front-end of GOV.UK - Robin Whittleton

At GDS we need to help everyone in the UK (and many further afield) to access digital services.

I’ll talk about how this affects the way we build front-end services, starting with build principles and covering how we deal with the needs of a wide range of citizens’ needs.

More practically, I’ll also highlight some of the specific design decisions we’ve recently made based on user research findings.

12:25pm - 1.00pm

CSS: Current, Soon, Someday - Charlotte Jackson

With so many new and exciting CSS properties hitting our browsers, we have lots of different ways to display content on our websites.

Thanks to progressive enhancement, we can make use of new CSS properties, even when not everyone is using a browser that supports them. In this talk, we'll take a look at some examples of CSS that we can use now, what we can use with care and what we should be ready for.

But it's not all about using new CSS properties; we can all play a part in their development too.

1.00pm - 1.45pm

Time for lunch in the North Hall, adjacent to the Ballroom.

1.45pm - 2.15pm

Lightning Talks

Web Components and your Design System - Adam Onishi

Join me for a whirlwind introduction to Web Components. I'll talk about what they're like to work with now and how soon you might be able to expect to use them. I'll also take a look at how we're possibly going to use Web Components in the future with Origami, the components system at the Financial Times.

Designing for Accessibility - Graham Armfield

Key decisions made at the design stage can make or break the accessibility of a website. But how do you know what those key decisions are, and why?

The WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines do contain many clues, but the guidelines are large and complex and the design ideas on accessibility, are mixed up with all the ideas for developers and content authors.

So here's a condensed list of sensible and pragmatic design ideas to ensure accessibility, with simple examples and explanations of why they're important.

Some topics covered:

  • Use of colour
  • Font sizing
  • Unexpected functionality
  • Words vs icons
  • Placeholders A Frontend Retrospective - Phil Lennon

After spending many years working with Creative Agencies, I needed a change. I have been working with Street Support ( as the Lead Frontend Developer to help the homeless in Manchester by building an easy to use directory of services and support.

This talk will discuss the open source Frontend technology used, the process of working on a team who have never worked together before, the problems, and the solutions discovered.

2.15pm - 2.55pm

L-I-V-I-N - Stuart Robson

In this talk Stuart will be discussing how to keep on top of your front-end code when creating styleguides and pattern libraries for your designs. How documentation should be a part of the process. Deciding on the who, what and why for the code and how those answers determines decisions. Peppered with opinions on what works and what does not when developing a pattern library as part of a project.

2.55pm - 3.30pm

Functional JavaScript, in a nutshell - Katie Fenn

JavaScript is a language of two flavours: object-oriented and functional. Some would say functional is JavaScript's dominant flavour, but only recently have we started exploring its uses fully.

This talk will introduce the basic ingredients of functional programming and explain why embracing them makes JavaScript easier to work with.

3.30pm - 3.50pm

Mid-afternoon break with refreshments.

3.50pm - 4.30pm

Equipping the newsroom: React, Firebase and creativity - Chris Hutchinson

When telling a story, technology and tools should get out of the way to ensure creativity can flourish. The tools we build for our editorial staff at The Times are no exception to this.

Over the past few months we've been prototyping and launching a series of tools using React, Firebase, web workers and more to ensure our staff can create their best journalism.

At The Times, we believe creating a good creation experience for our journalists leads to a stronger story, and a more powerful impact.

This talk will dive into the depths of our tooling suite, and showcase some of the latest innovations we've been making, and the challenges the ever-changing JavaScript landscape can present.

4.30pm - 5.10pm

Design for Humans, Not Robots - Tammie Lister

Sometimes it seems like the world is full of experiences designed for robots not the humans that use them. Experiences that leave us frustrated, lost and disconnected. That are almost designed to bring out the worst human traits. Shouldn’t we really be focused on creating experiences that connect with users?

Experiences that move, that enable, that allow us to be the best humans we can be. In this talk I’ll look at the problem of design that isn’t created for humans and offer some insight into how we can begin to design for humans not robots.

5.10pm - 6.00pm

CSS Variables: var(–subtitle) - Lea Verou

You may have heard about CSS Variables (aka CSS Custom Properties), but think it’s not something you can use yet. Plus, you already have your preprocessor pipeline in place, why should you care?

This talk will show how CSS Variables are much more powerful than static preprocessor variables and can be used today without compromising progressive enhancement. You will also learn several creative tips and tricks to take full advantage of them.

As is customary with Lea’s CSS talks, expect a swath of live demos to demonstrate the material.

6.00pm - 6.15pm

Closing remarks including the announcement of the competition winners!

6:15pm - 9:30pm

The Social begins as FrontEndNorth 2016 comes to an end.

Kick src=" with an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage in the company of other delegates to digest the day, chat and make new friends/contacts!

Fantastic Venue & Location

Hosted in the heart of Sheffield (voted happiest city in the UK 2013!) the beautiful City Hall will host this year's FrontEndNorth.

The City Hall is easy to find, has great transport and parking facilities and with space for up to 500 people the conference will have plenty of room for our delegates, sponsors and speakers to mingle and be inspired.

You can find out more about how to get to the City Hall on the venue's website.

Getting to Sheffield

Traveling to Sheffield and want to learn more? Check the Sheffield City Council website for information on getting around the city.

If you plan on flying from overseas or elsewhere in the UK then arrive via Robin Hood Airport (30 miles away), Leeds Bradford International Airport (45 miles away) or Manchester Airport (45 miles away). Rail connections from all three of the above airports are no longer than 1 hour.

Travelling via rail from further afield? A train to Sheffield takes approximately 2hrs 30mins from London St. Pancras, or 3hrs 45mins from Edinburgh.

The Social

Unwind at The Social

All ticket holders are invited to our conference after-party which will be hosted in the City Hall's iconic art deco bar, only a few yards away from where you'll be sat during the day. You'll get a drink on the house and a chance to mingle and relax with other delegates and speakers.

For those delegates with a preference for non-alcoholic drinks, tea and coffee will be available should our packed day of front-end talks leave you feeling the need for a good old fashioned cuppa!

We won't be blasting party anthems through the Ballroom's PA system: instead we'll provide some chilled, low-level ambience to suit the occasion.

Arches Bar

Other Great Benefits

Competition Prizes to Win

Enter our competitions for a chance to win one of our great (and useful) prizes. #swag

Find or List Opportunities

Use our career boards if you have a vacancy in your dev team, or need a new challenge.

Discount Car Parking

Park your car/unicorn at the Q-Park adjacent to the venue for just £3.50 for the day.

Discount Hotel Rooms

Receive 10% off when you book a room with one of our selected hotel partners.

If you have any questions or queries about this event just get in touch with the events team at Make Do by emailing

Great Value Ticket Prices

Tickets start from just £85 if you grab the early bird (limited) and if you're a student you can bag our bargain £45 ticket! Standard delegate price is £120 and we are only releasing a few hundred tickets so get them while you can!

Early Bird


A limited number of early bird tickets are on sale now.

Sold Out!



A limited number of tickets for those with a valid NUS ID.

Buy Now



The standard full-price rate for FrontEndNorth 2016.

Buy Now

Tickets are sold via Eventbrite and you can pay using a credit/debit card. If you'd like to buy a group of tickets by cheque or invoice then please email us and we'll be happy to organise this for you.

Our Amazing Sponsors

We know that it's such a cliché but it really is true: we couldn't put this event on without the help of our sponsors.

Be Excellent to Each Other

The FrontEndNorth organising team are committed to ensuring that you have the best possible experience on the day.

We take the harrassment or abuse of conference delegates very seriously. By participating in FrontEndNorth 2016 you acknowledge that you have read, understand and are bound by our code of conduct.