Phil Hawksworth: Wanting the web to #win

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Phil Hawksworth was talking about the inherent strengths of the web at Dot York, these are my notes from his talk.

In the beginning

There was Tim. Tim had an idea which was vague was but exciting. There was a server and on that server was a page and on that page were links.

Now we have the cloud (which is the internet) and the IoT (ST4I) (which is the internet).


Coined in the 70s. This is where it all began, creating links. Hot linking to images - you can put other people's images on your pages. Sharing and collaboration is built into the web: you can link any item to any other item.

In every URL there is a double meh. ://

Adding an href to an <a> gives it real power. Adding additional attributes gives it even more power but it's still something we can interact with.


We need to talk about trends. Design is being lost from the web <= :// We're working more between disciplines. Not everything should be a delightful experience. Art is not necessarily the same as design, we borrow things that inspire us and that's how trends work. On the web we can see how things are made, even design can be seen in things like platform design guidelines.

When mobiles started out we copied the style of the native platforms however this is fragile and not sustainable. Standards and conventions aren't the same as followingg trends. If trends have enough merit they will become standards and conventions.

Sticking to our guns

Protecting the integrity of the web is more important now than it ever was. Sites must do the job that they're supposed to do. Not everybody has the same connectivity we do - not just mobile networks but poor WiFi. Performance is design as well as technical - it's not just the responsibility of developers to make things fast at the end. We need to manage perceived performance.


Empathy is over used but we need to empathise with our users. It's the foundation of creating better work. We are a community who share and that's built on the principle grown from view source. People are showing their work and sharing. It's not a secret sauce - the style guide isn't what makes you special. Sharing raises the water level for all of us.

Building native apps only looks easier than building web apps when you consider one native platform.

Progressive enhancement

It's not just about working without JavaScript. It's about dealing with what happens when JavaScript breaks. Browsers follow the robustness principle with HTML and CSS but not with JS.

Anything could be an enhancement: JS, viewport, network, sensors... Don't dismiss devices because you don't have them yourself.

We have to give up the notion that we had control: we didn't, we only thought we did.

Why should the web win

Greater social development and political representation among the billions who currently have no voice.

The web is here but it's not evenly distributed.

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