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[Recap] Future Insights Live – Las Vegas 2013

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Design & User Experience

Las Vegas, one of the most extravagant cities in the world was host to this year’s Future Insights Live conference held at the MGM Grand. What better city than this one, with its ever-changing and innovative landscape that perfectly resembles web design and development.

About 800 people filled the conference rooms at the MGM Grand hotel from April 29th to May 2nd, each eager to listen to the amazing group of speakers and special guests that FIL was able to gather.  With 6 workshops and around 75 sessions, plus hands on labs over these 4 days we were nothing but busy. But of course, there was plenty of time for networking opportunities during coffee breaks or lunch, and especially during the free welcome drinks event on Tuesday night.

Web design and development was the main reason we all came to Vegas this time and the five tracks that the sessions were based on and divided by, included future-focused front-end development, back-end development, mobile, pure design, and business.

There were so many different subjects to discuss and notes to take, and with various sessions overlapping, needless to say it was challenging to keep up. Thankfully the FIL organizers were thoughtful enough to provide a solution! They filmed each session so they could be rewatched at any time. They also had a post-session meet-up spot called Chatter Box where we could go have a talk with the speakers, and last but not least they’re also putting up all of the slides on skydrive so no one would miss a thing.


The hours in the day flew by, and by the end of each session we all felt so much more knowledgeable and pumped, ready to go back to our jobs and be better at them. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go see every session (since it was literally impossible) so here are my personal highlights of the conference.

Bruce Lawson

Bruce (best recognized for his pink mohawk) was one of the speakers I most enjoyed. He works for Opera and is very proud of it. He shared a company tidbit with us: media queries were invented by the CEO of Opera! After revealing this, Bruce went on with his session and provided many, many laughs with his hilarious yet gripping topics including “Responsive Web Design: what’s next?” where he showed us CSS4 techniques and the newest, most improved Flexbox yet. His other talk was called “How to Destroy the Web” and went on in a sarcastic manner about how the web is evil and must obviously be stopped and destroyed.

Estelle Weyl

Estelle was another amazing speaker who, with a bit of her dorky humour, taught us all how easy CSS3 is making front-end development these days. I didn’t find any other talk as useful as this one, but you could call me biased since I am a front-end developer myself. I had no idea there were so many ways to use CSS selectors and with absolutely no javaScript! Which Estelle was set rigidly against. She taught us how to use pseudo-classes and pseudo-elements to style the web in ways I had never before imagined. She even showed us how to make a group of divs look like a menu with toggleable tabs using nothing more than CSS!

Carl Smith

This guy had charisma pouring out of him. We all liked him after his first few sentences, after which he smoothly moved on to tell his amazing career story. He became an entrepreneur after reaching a very high position at his job and resigning. He went through countless ups and downs until he finally found his current sweet spot after founding nGen Works. He taught us innovative techniques on how to make your employees love their job and ways to improve company culture.  It was very simple: he just asked them what they would do even if they didn’t get paid for it. Each one of them had a hobby or a particular interest in something unique and Carl allowed them to use that and integrate it to their jobs earning him excellent results in the end, and creating an even more successful company!

Dave Shea

Best known as the creator of CSS Zen Garden, which catapulted CSS to success and helped many talented web designers and front-end devs show off their skills after learning how to use this language properly. Yes, it was all thanks to Dave, and I am proud to say he is also Canadian! I am one of those many students he talked about that had to design a CSS Zen Garden page as an assignment for college, and I’ve got to say, it was really effective. His was the closing session of the conference. He told us about people asking him to make an HTML5/CSS3 version of CSS Zen Garden, and told us the reason why he didn’t want to do it: The world doesn’t need another zen garden, these languages and developers using them are advanced enough to not need a guide. And then as a surprise twist for the end he revealed he had actually given in to the many requests and just finished it a few days ago on the 10th CSS Zen Garden anniversary.

Too much great content!

There were so many other speakers to say great things about, but not enough room to fit them all in here! If you have any questions about the conference feel free to contact me at

Future Insights Live turned out to be an amazing experience overall.  We learned so much about web design and development and where it is headed in the future that I feel like I have ‘leveled up’ as a front-end developer. We also met lots of great fellow developers with whom we had insightful conversations. I left the conference with a nice feeling of accomplishment.

And I shall leave you with my favorite quote from FIL:

“39% of people use mobile while pooping; the remaining 61% are liars!”
– Brad Frost

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