Anna Debenham on wearable devices and browsing on game consoles

Anna Debenham gives us a preview of the talk she will deliver at Generate London, which is taking place on 26 September.

Anna Debenham is a freelance front-end developer based in Brighton in the UK. She is a technical editor for A List Apart, co-producer of 24 ways, and was net magazine's Young Developer of the Year in 2013. Last year she wrote a book about front-end style guides. And when she's not playing on them, she's busy testing the browsers in game consoles.

This year she is one of over a dozen fantastic speakers who will be educating, inspiring, and regaling our audience at Generate London on 26 September. If that sort of thing floats your boat, there's still time to get a ticket to see Anna as well as the likes of Jeremy Keith, Dan Cederholm and Meagan Fisher.

In the meantime, Anna tells us a bit about her talk topic and what's making her tick right now.

What are you going to speak about at Generate?

My talk is going to be about something I'm really passionate about: how game console browsers work, and what it means for web designers and developers. We focus a lot on phone, tablet and desktop browsers, but there's a plethora of other devices and input methods we don't really consider. I'll talk about how many people use them (spoiler: it's more than you think), what they use them for, and what it's like to browse the web using things like gesture and voice on the Xbox Kinect, a stylus on the Wii U gamepad, and a D-pad on an PlayStation controller.

What have you been working on recently?

My talk. And I've been doing some work with Clearleft on the Code For America website – we redesigned their site last year and this is a revisit of some of the work we did on that. It's really nice getting to improve something I've worked on before, but also kind of daunting (I want to change how I coded everything). I've also been doing some work with the Wellcome Trust on a few of their sites.

What are the big ideas you're excited about at the moment?

I'm really excited about all these new wearable devices that are coming out. I've worn a smart watch for over a year and it feels really liberating. They might seem like a bit of a fad at the moment, but they'll get more useful over time, and I think they’ll have a lot of design repercussions for the web.

Why did you find wearing a smart watch liberating?

There are a lot of reasons – most of them are a bit silly and specific to me though. Womens' clothes have annoyingly small pockets (if they have them at all) and I often can't fit my phone in them, so it's nice to be able to chuck my phone in my backpack and my watch tells me if someone’s trying to contact me. Then there's things like walking through busy streets in London where I don’t want to keep taking out my phone to change the track I’m listening to, or read a notification that may or may not be important. If I'm socialising, I can dismiss a phonecall or glance at a notification without taking out my phone and looking rude. If I'm cooking, washing dishes or doing DIY, I can still follow what's happening on Twitter without damaging my phone. These all sound like very minor things, but they all add up. I can't imagine not having one now.

What do you think makes a good conference?


Are there any speakers you're particularly looking forward to seeing at Generate?

I can't wait to see Meagan Fisher's talk. I like learning about how to be a better freelancer, and Meagan's really funny and her slides are always gorgeous so I'm looking forward to seeing that.

I don't think I've seen Zoe Mickley Gillenwater speak before but her talk about CSS sounds really interesting.

I'm gutted I won't see Gavin Strange's talk which is at the same time as mine. I saw him speak a couple of years back and he was brilliant.

Sign up for Generate London here.


Tanya Combrinck is digital editor on net magazine.