Speaking at An Event Apart in Chicago. Photo by Jeffrey Zeldman

Presentation Topics

Below is a list of the various presentation topics I speak on. Each links to a page with more information.

Typically when asked to speak on a topic I modify the talk to suit that specific audience, rather than repeating an identical talk. I am comfortable speaking to beginner through to highly technical audiences. For some rapidly changing subject areas such as CSS Grid the talk has become an example of Theseus’ Paradox. Is it the same talk if every slide has been changed and updated?

CSS Grid Layout

I have been a great fan of the CSS Grid Layout Module since the early days, and initial IE10 implementation. With experimental implementations in Chrome, Firefox and WebKit it’s a great time to start really finding out what it can do.


Something exciting seems to show up every week either in a CSS specification, or newly implemented in experimental form in the browser. It’s fun to talk about some of this new stuff - especially the things that we can use more often than we might think.

Everything Else

Something that has changed since we launched Perch is that there are now thousands of services that can help you create the infrastructure around selling, delivering and supporting your business. This is a good thing, however in my talk I also encouraged people to consider the dependencies they are creating in their business - and what their plan is if one of these services goes away.

Building the Modern Web

Looking back over the history of the web I talked about how the ease of getting started building websites, and the sharing nature of the community enabled me to begin a new career. I talked about how ordinary designers and developers have shaped the history of the web, some of the current challenges we face, and how we can help to build the future.

New CSS Layout

This presentation topic covers a number of different presentations based on the new CSS Modules that deal with layout. Mostly CSS Grid Layout, Flexbox and the Box Alignment Module.

Productivity and time management

I’ve been writing about productivity here on my site for some time, and also included some of my tips in various presentations. This presentation is all about the things I have learned launching and growing “Perch”:https://grabaperch.com.

Configuration Management with Puppet for Developers

In this session I introduce configuration management using Puppet and why this is helpful, even for small infrastructures. You’ll learn how using a tool like Puppet can make it simple to create development and staging environments that replicate production.

Development to Deployment

This talk aims to introduce people currently using FTP to upload files to a modern, yet simple local development to deployment process that would speed up workflow and save problems when making a website live.

The Business of Front-end development

I often have to make decisions about the front-end methods and technologies we use on sites for my business. I’ve a long history as a front-end developer and as a web standards advocate, and I can be very opinionated about how things should be done. However as a business owner I also know that sometimes things need to be done quickly.

In this talk I take a look at how front-end development has changed over the last few years, and the issues those changes have created. I’ll cover how we make decisions as to when we’ll get something up and running quickly with Bootstrap, and when we spend the time really nailing the front-end. We’ll also take a look at where things haven’t changed, and how by taking a progressively enhanced approach to development you can do the best thing for your business and your users.


Despite being a tiny business and small infrastructure we make great use of Puppet over at edgeofmyseat.com. In this talk I explain how I got started with Puppet and why I think it is worth considering even if you don’t have hundreds of servers to take care of.


A presentation about what we have learned by listening to the needs of the customers who use Perch.

CSS and E-books

I started to look into using CSS and HTML to publish my own books late last year. As a web developer transferring my CSS skills to print seemed a far simpler prospect than learning some desktop publishing software.

After some trial and error I put together a process for publishing to multiple formats while maintaining one copy of the text, and learned something about Paged Media in CSS along the way. This presentation shares that knowledge, starting with a rundown of some of the CSS features that come in handy when creating an ebook and moving on to practical usage.

We’re not “Doing a Startup”

How to cut through the hype and build your side project into a profitable business.

You would love to launch your own product business but you have a nice life, a family, a mortgage and don’t want to buy into putting it all on the line chasing some startup dream. This presentation is about the practical steps you need to take to get from here to launch. Including:

From Service Provider to Software Vendor

A short presentation detailing our move from consultancy to product, with Perch CMS.

All of a sudden - no luck!

Perch is a PHP and MySQL content management system. Customers install the software on their own local development servers and live hosting, often as the very first time they have installed something like this. When we describe this to other developers the first thing they will say is, “support must be a nightmare!”

In this presentation I will share some of the things we have learned in almost four years of supporting the product. Names have been changed to protect the baffled, however in these tales from the trenches are useful tips for all of us.

If you need support, how can you write a request that will get you help fast? What things might your web host be doing that should cause you to run away fast? What should you know to make using third party code easier?

For those who have a product or service for which they offer support, how can you set up processes that make support easier? How can you reduce support issues by identifying the pain points and designing them out? How can you make the support you offer your best marketing and market research tool?

Web Standards

A presentation on “web standards” covering the history of the standards movement and the importance of remembering that history today.

Selling Digital Products

This presentation is a slightly more technical presentation on the story of launching Perch. I focus on some of the surprising things we have discovered about selling self-hosted software, based on things that we have discovered while supporting Perch.


I have given a number of presentations introducing audiences to HTML and CSS. These tend to be specific to the audience I am talking to. An introduction to CSS for a back-end developer audience needs a different approach to that given to complete beginners.

I have many years of experience in teaching these subjects through my writing and am always happy to present on them.

Web Development Concepts Designers Should Know

I have spent many years working as a web developer alongside designers and, in the course of that, have found there are some web development concepts that are really useful if they are understood by designers.

I was asked by .net magazine if I would write an article based on this presentation, that article can be found on their website - 10 web development concepts designers should know.

CSS Level 3 Selectors

I have been presenting various versions of this talk for over five years, updating it each time to ensure browser support information is correct and the advice current. I have also presented this material to a wide range of audiences. From beginners to CSS to back-end developers who needed their knowledge of CSS refreshed.

An understanding of modern CSS Selector use is vital for any web designer or developer and this talk is useful for any event where attendees may be new to CSS or need an update on modern techniques.

Future of Content Management Systems

This presentation was originally created for The Smashing Conference in Germany. Based on my experience of developing content management systems from the very large, to our product Perch, this presentation details the issue of content management today and where we might go from here.

Pushing the Boundaries without Breaking the Web

This presentation started life as a blog post on this website, and depending on audience has been presented in a few different ways under a couple of titles. As with all of my presentations I tailor it to suit the particular event at which I am speaking. The core message of responsible front-end development remains the same.

Choosing the Right Content Management System

A presentation from the Highland Fling Conference 2011 in which I have a rant about WYSIWYG editors and suggest that we should be using our content management systems to support the content strategy and provide good editing environments rather than being something we need to fight with.

Knowing it all

Front-end development seems to get more complex every day. Not only are CSS and HTML far more capable than ever before, but we have all of these new tools, techniques and frameworks. How can we possibly learn all of this stuff?

Contribution and Confidence

In my keynote for All Things Open I talk about how contributing to the open web has enabled a career for someone with an unlikely background in tech.

New CSS Layout Meets the Real World

In a world of evergreen, automatically updating browsers we need to change the way we think about browser support. It makes little sense to sign off on a brief mentioning target browsers when new features may become usable during the course of a project build.

To be truly future friendly, we need to build with that future in mind—adding enhancements that our users’ browsers will grow into, release by release, our work getting better without us doing any more work on it.

In this session, I demonstrate with practical examples how to embrace the new layout methods in CSS, without needing to cut off people who are using browsers that haven’t caught up yet, and show you how to get the best from the magic of Flexbox and Grid—without needing to lean on JavaScript and polyfills to get there.

Where does CSS come from?

Understanding how CSS is developed is more than an academic exercise. It gives you a way of understanding why things are weird, which is a good starting point to avoiding or fixing weirdness. It can give you an early heads up as to what might be happening in the very near future. It also opens up an opportunity to be part of the process, to contribute to CSS - just like any open source project. Then once we have new CSS on the horizon, we can all be part of encouraging browser vendors to ship it!

Using CSS Grid Layout

In March 2017 CSS Grid Layout shipped Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera. How do we get started using it today?

What I discovered about layout via CSS Grid

This is a talk about Grid Layout, and the previously impossible tasks that grid makes possible. However it is also a talk about what it is to do CSS layout in 2017. I’ll be sharing the things I’ve learned about layout, as I’ve learned about Grid.

Perch, Patterns and Old Browsers

A talk about redeveloping the Perch Control Panel for version 3, using Fractal for our pattern library.

Solving Layout Problems with CSS Grid and Friends

I explain some of the common layout problems that CSS Grid and related specifications attempt to solve - while answering some of the common questions I am asked about Grid Layout.

Graduating to Grid

In a practical and example filled hour, I’ll show you how to start using CSS Grid Layout even if you have a legacy codebase and need to support browsers that don’t have support for new CSS.

Into the Weeds of CSS Layout

A talk that looks at the things Grid Layout does to work out the size of the grid tracks and overall grid, and asks whether all this flexibility comes at a cost.

The Creative New World of CSS

A talk introducing some of the interesting new things that are available or coming soon in CSS, including lots of examples, visual tools and playgrounds and ways out find out more.

Unlocking The Power of CSS Grid Layout

A talk taking you a little deeper into the Grid Layout spec, and particularly looking at Sizing and Alignment.

Well, this is suboptimal.

It is easy to come up with excuses not to exercise. The dog ate your trainers, you are allergic to lycra, and you seem to have injured your armpit. In this talk, I’ll be sharing how even when the odds are stacked against you, you can keep fit and have a whole lot of fun doing so.

If you would like me to speak on any of these subjects at your conference or event, take a look at the information here and then drop me a line.