During the design phase, being able to tweak the pixel look and dimensions of an icon should be as simple as possible; adjusting many lines of CSS code to do this is not it, especially if you didn’t write the CSS originally. You want that icon a little bigger? Tough luck, it was created by someone else at 32 by 32 pixels, now it’s up to you to figure out how to make it all work for 36 by 36. Similarly, implementing an icon should be as simple as writing a CSS background property or adding an
<img>tag. It shouldn’t involve adding six meaningless HTML elements nor twenty lines of CSS per icon.
Matt Ward has written a wonderfully insightful and informed post asking whether some recent CSS experiments are pushing the technology beyond what it was designed for.
Each of these experiments takes a different approach. Some, like the line graph, have some practical applications in the real world, while others like the CSS fail whale are completely and entirely impractical. It’s certainly interesting to know that it can be done, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be done.
This trend for the use of CSS as a design tool has been bugging me for a while now, and Matt hits on the very heart of the problem, drawing parallels with table-based layouts:
If you’ve been around the web design and devlopment industry for very long, you probably already know how much of a faux pas table-based design is considered. Well, when it comes to CSS icons, consider these thoughts:
- Bloat – All the necessary CSS declarations will really bloat up your style sheets, making them an absolute nightmare to manage. Wait, didn’t I just write those same words? Also, depending on how the icons are achieved, you might find your HTML bloating up with extra elements too.
- Inflexible – Again I admit that people have done some really incredible things with CSS, but compared with a real graphics program, CSS generated graphics are incredibly limited in what they can do.
- Purpose – As we’ve already discussed at some length, CSS wasn’t designed as a tool for creating graphics, despite the fact that people are able to do some pretty amazing things with them, like the Peculiar and social media icons we’ve already looked at. Impressive? Yes. The right tool? No.
Many of these CSS experiments are very worthy exercises to show the possibilities and extremes of what the technology can do – but most aren’t practical for production use. CSS is a technology for defining rules about how content should be visually presented; it’s not a tool for generating graphics.
Instead of the traditional method of using images to display icons on web pages, Pictos uses a font, in the style of Dinbats or Webdings, which can be implemented using @font-face.
It’s an interesting concept. The main advantages appear to be improved speed and better scalability (the icons will scale just like any font). But there are some serious accessibility flaws. Since the font characters appear to be mapped to the standard alphabet (i.e. the “refresh” icon is mapped to the letter “C”), using this technique is a horrendous headache for anyone using a screen reader, and will be very bad for your SEO. One of the examples shows an example using CSS :before selector to prepend an icon to content, which kind of gets around those problems, but still feels a bit clunky to me: the whole HTML/CSS stack seems to be broken.
A good effort, but I’m not sure this technique is ready for the mainstream.
UPDATE: The guys at Filament Group have done some casual testing of the accessibility of this technique with a range of proposed solutions. Sadly, the results aren’t promising – even the “:before” technique breaks things. My gut feeling is that this still isn’t a particularly graceful technique, and the only viable fix is to map the Pictos “alphabet” to appropriate unicode characters. But, even then, the implementation would be tricky for anyone who lacks a rudimentary grasp of unicode.
UPDATE 2: Looks like the very talented Jon Tangerine has come to similar conclusions: the only way this can really work is by mapping the icons in the font to sensible Unicode code points. But identifies still more problems with the technique, even if the semantics discrepancies were dealt with: more accessibility gripes, the reliance on @font-face support and the difficulties of a graceful fallback.
Drew suggests you can kind-of wrangle the markup into something sort-of semantic. However, it starts to fall down fast. For example, a check mark (tick) is mapped to ‘3’. There’s nothing semantic about that. Clever replacement techniques just hide the evidence. It’s a hack. There’s nothing wrong with a hack here and there (as box model veterans well know) but the ends have to justify the means.
Jon explains things far more eloquently than I can, so I suggest you read his balanced and reasoned post.
Bryan Mason announces a partnership with Adobe which brings a set of popular Adobe fonts to Typekit:
Adobe and Typekit are teaming up to bring some of the world’s most popular, recognizable, and respected fonts to the web. Starting today, you’ll be able to use classics like Adobe Garamond, News Gothic, Myriad, and Minion plus many more on your website — all of them newly optimized and hinted for the screen.
Although there are only twenty-six fonts being added to the collection, they include some of the most popular and elegant fonts in use today. The fact that Adobe have taken the effort to ensure they are properly hinted for screen use is another bonus:
We’ve been using these fonts internally here at Typekit for a few weeks and the quality is simply amazing. These are the original cuts of the celebrated typefaces you’ve been waiting for, not reproductions or knockoffs of their designs. That means you can use them with the assurance that your creative work is being presented with all the accuracy and technical detail the print world has known for decades.
I’ve been watching the evolution of Typekit for a while now, but haven’t used it in any production work yet. This may just be the tipping point where many people take a second, serious look at Typekit as a viable tool for bringing elegant typography to their web designs – $49 per year is a pretty good deal, particularly when you compare the cost of the average font license.
The jQuery project is really excited to announce the work that we’ve been doing to bring jQuery to mobile devices. Not only is the core jQuery library being improved to work across all of the major mobile platforms, but we’re also working to release a complete, unified, mobile UI framework.
This looks great, and with a track record of delivering solid, well-documented code, this is going to be a welcome addition to the jQuery family. A unified approach to mobile web UI is desperately needed, and sounds like they are going to be targeting a wide range of platforms:
The critical difference with our approach is the wide variety of mobile browsers we’re targeting with jQuery Mobile. We’ve been working hard at bringing jQuery support to all mobile browsers that are sufficiently-capable and have at least a nominal amount of market share. In this way we’re treating mobile web browsers exactly how we treat desktop web browsers.
And, they’re approaching the visual design in a good way: talking in terms of “design language”:
From a design perspective, we have a unique challenge because we need a universal design system that will feel “right” on a broad range of devices instead of directly mimicking the design style of a particular platform.
To that end, we aim to synthesize a touch-friendly design language that can work well across a range of form factors from smartphone to tablet and a range of mobile platforms. A new ThemeRoller tool will be developed that will allow designers and developers to quickly design a custom theme that fits their color scheme and style to make a highly branded experience possible across all devices and browsers.
It’s worth reading the entire strategy statement.
The link shortening revolution that has taken place the past few years has been interesting for a number of reasons. But one of the most interesting aspects is that we’re all now trained to click on a URL even if we have no idea what it actually is. Sure, you may be visiting TechCrunch.com, but in Twitter’s stream, it has been hidden as http://bit.ly/lkowieofi or the like. Twitter Tweet Button changes that.
The new Tweet Button, which was officially unveiled by Twitter earlier today (and is already up and running on TechCrunch), by default wraps all links in Twitter’s own t.co URL shortener. But this shortening is only for the pop-up tweet box and so Twitter can make sure the URL isn’t a malicious one. When it is sent out to your tweet stream, you’ll now see the actual URL (though abbreviated).
The obfuscation of URLs due to widespread use of Twitter has been a real annoyance, as it essentially breaks one of the fundamental features of the web: simple structure and context through a human-readable address. It’s encouraging to see that Twitter is finally making efforts to fix this: being able to see where a link leads will enrich the service and allow for easier filtering of useful links by users.
Here’s a really interesting piece on Forbes about the iPad being hailed as a great e-reader for the blind.
Ask any PC-loving computer nerd why Apple products have become the de facto choice of the masses, and you’ll likely hear something like, “People buy Apple products because they’re pretty.” That may be true for many, but one group of consumers who care little for Apple’s prodigious aesthetics are the blind.
They care more about how Apple products actually work. And while the iPad may be Apple’s most controversial launch in recent memory, the blind community is unanimous in its support.
This resonates with what I wrote recently in a piece about adaptive accessibility. Apple really do take accessible, functional design seriously – not just as an afterthought, or a secondary consideration. Accessible functionality is built right in to the very core of their design of software and software interaction. The very fact that Apple invested time and energy in making Voiceover a core element of OS X at an early stage, has allowed the technology to improve and proliferate, so that it can be seamlessly integrated into cutting-edge devices like the iPhone and, now, the iPad.
I would even go so far as to say that this kind of attention to accessibility for all is what makes Apple’s mobile products so successful as market-leaders: the benefits of accessible design are experienced and appreciated by all; accessible design enhances everyone’s experience.
First, consider what an e-reader represents to the blind community. The concept of an affordable, portable device that allows the visually impaired to consume media easily and without special consideration is an exciting proposition, but one never fully realized.
The iPhone and the iPad are both adaptive devices. Most people will never use the accessible features they provide; probably never even know that they exist. But the ability for users to adapt their use of the device to meet their own specific needs is what is so empowering. These aren’t specialist, assistive devices: they are desirable, cutting-edge consumer products. They make disabled people feel included; perhaps even makes them no longer disabled. This is a really fantastic thing.
Computer nerds, tech columnists and the general public may not know where the iPad fits into the existing media consumption landscape–but the blind and visually impaired see it as the only e-reader worth owning. Call it further proof that Apple is more than just a pretty face.
And I don’t think it’s just blind users who are going to benefit from these kinds of advances in consumer technology – touch interfaces might be a huge win for people who have been constrained by having to use a mouse and keyboard. Gestures can be a much quicker and more intuitive way to navigate within a digital space – why do you think the scroll-wheel became so popular?
This is the text of a piece I wrote, which originally appeared on the Boagworld podcast, episode 205, and as a Boagworld Bitesize article in March 2010. It’s a follow-up to a piece I wrote on this blog in October 2009.
Let me get this out of the way at the start: I’m a disabled web user, registered as severely sight impaired. I’m also a web designer and developer – have been for over 10 years. I’m not just a tinkerer: I’ve worked for the likes of Audi, Levi’s, Adidas and even won a few awards for my work with U2.
In the early days, like many of us, I didn’t take issues of accessibility as seriously as I ought to have done (I committed my fair share of usability sins and implemented some really bad design decisions). But, I saw the error of my ways, and nowadays I’m a loud advocate for good standards and better accessibility. And, as both a disabled web user and a web practitioner, I think I have some useful insights to offer on how we might make the web a more accessible place, not just for those who are disabled, but for everybody.
We’ve come a long way
There have been fantastic advances in improving access to the web over the past ten years or so. The wider adoption of web standards by both browser vendors and web practitioners has bought huge benefits to all types of disabled users. These advances have helped to inform trends in web design and development in a myriad of positive ways.
Personally, I’m finding that my web experience is steadily improving thanks to these adoptions, which is a fantastic thing. There is still some way for us to go though. I still occasionally stumble across high-traffic sites which are terribly inaccessible: code soup which makes a site unintelligible to screen readers; design treatments which bewilder anybody with learning difficulties; tiny hit areas which make for horrible target practice amongst those with motor disabilities. These aren’t old, creaking relics of a by-gone cyber-era either: they are new, high-profile commissions.
Sure, not everybody is signed up to web standards, nor is every web designer or developer experienced enough to appreciate the importance of accessibility. But from my experience, it seems that public sector and cultural organisations are the ones who are failing the most. This always baffles me a little, as you’d expect publicly-focused bodies to have a commitment (and in many cases be required) to ensure accessibility to all. Ignoring disabled members of society in the physical world is wholly unacceptable, so why do we still tolerate it in our virtual world?
Well, part of the reason, I think, is due to a slightly skewed way we think about disability. It’s often quite easy to fall into the trap of thinking of someone with a disability as part of a generalised group: someone who is blind, who is deaf, who is a wheelchair user. The fact is that not every disability is the same, and the acuteness and intricacies of a disability can affect people in so many varying ways. This misconception makes it a complex and confusing subject to understand, especially for people with deadlines.
But I think there’s something else we need to address.
There’s a bigger problem
Our industry isn’t innovating enough. We’re simply not being intelligent enough with our design of the web.
Now, that reads as quite a bold assertion, so I’ll try to explain where I’m coming from.
I’m a firm believer that good design should be both beautiful in it’s aesthetics and in the way it functions. But it seems that a lot of the time, when it comes to designing for the web, aesthetics and functionality are treated as two very separate disciplines. I’m generalising, but I’ll bet that the approach to the design of most web projects is still either: a great visual style which needs to function well; or a functional architecture which needs to look good. One generally informs the other.
I’d like to see the wider adoption of a new, emerging type of web design, where style and function are embraced as a single, integrated discipline. Gone are the days where a designer’s job stops when they hand over a Photoshop mockup to a site builder. And similarly, gone are the days when site builders try to design in the browser and then a visual style is conjured up around markup. Both of these approaches have their benefits, but equally, both have their failings. Can we not be a bit more inventive?
Accessibility can be beautiful
I think this is where accessibility could step in. I think accessibility can be a killer tool for some amazing design. But it needs us to look at it in a new way. As much as any of us claim to take it seriously, how often do we think about how it can be done _better_? The tendency is to just tick the boxes and then move on to another pressing task.
Rather than being a secondary consideration in the design and build of our web experiences, we can better use the disciplines of accessibility and usability as tools to inform and inspire beautiful aesthetics and functional design.
Good accessibility doesn’t just have to be something which _assists_ people with a disability. We need to flip that idea on it’s head. Accessibility should be embraced as a way to allow us _all_ to adapt our online experience to fit the way we use the web – disability or no disability. Better access to the places we visit on the web doesn’t just benefit people who are disabled, it benefits everyone.
We’re already heading there
Apple are a rare example of a company who take good design seriously and who are already doing amazing things in this field, albeit with installed software.
I have very low vision due to a rare form of albinism. My distance sight is really bad; I wouldn’t be able to recognise your face across a room. But my near vision is exceptionally good; I excel when working with pixels and detail. I predominantly do most of my work on OS X because it has so many low-level accessibility aids built right in: I can zoom the screen with keyboard shortcuts; well-adopted UI guidelines make it easy for me to understand a new app; standard controls and focus help me to navigate without a mouse; finding files, running applications and searching can all be done swiftly and easily using the keyboard.
I adopted an iPhone for the very same reasons: not because I’m an Apple fanboy, but because it brings with it the same accessible features as my operating system, features I’ve struggled to find in any other mobile device.
For me, these are amazing productivity tools. I tend to work faster and with more efficiency than my well-sighted peers, and that’s purely down to my use of accessible tools. I’ve _adapted_ my working world to not only achieve an equal footing, but my adaption allows me to be _more_ productive than many able people.
But these enhancements haven’t been developed for the sole use of people with a disability. They are elements of good, well-considered design, beautiful in both aesthetics and function, which are available to all. Try it right now: if you’re using a fairly modern version of Safari, hit CMD-F, then start typing a word, and you’ll see a perfect example of what I mean. If you’re using another browser, chances are you’re missing out on the advantages of a piece of simple, but clever, assistive design.
A subtle, but important distinction
Assistive accessibility means providing add-on tools which help people. My local Co-op print braille labels on their wine bottles: a nice bit of assistive design which helps us visually impaired lot choose our tipple. A worthy amount of effort goes into the transcription of subtitles and closed captions for TV programmes and DVDs: a service many of us don’t use, but which is an invaluable assistive tool for the hard of hearing (and incidentally a tool which is only now appearing as a feature in mainstream online video services).
Adaptive accessibility is about building things into our everyday world which aren’t used by everybody all of the time, but are available as a helper to everybody all of the time. It can be something as simple as a handrail on a stairwell: the more sprightly among us may bound up stairs two-at-a-time; those who are more elderly need the extra support; sometimes children use it; if you’re tired, lazy, carrying something heavy you might use it. You adapt your behaviour through use of the tools around you, depending on all sorts of factors.
I see no reason why this analogy can’t be translated into our experience of our online world. We’re moving away from the desktop, to devices in our pockets, on our laps, in our cars. We can go online virtually anywhere, with different distractions; different demands for our attention. We’re moving away from navigating with the keyboard and mouse, to using touch, gesture, using our voices, using our ears. This might come as a surprise to you, but us “disabled” lot are way ahead of the game when it comes to alternative ways to navigate the online world.
I don’t have any answers
So how do we start building more adaptive online experiences?
I do not have a simple answer as to how we achieve this, I’m merely posing the question and acting as an advocate for the discussion of ideas. Perhaps it involves rationalising the UI design of the web (the adoption of iPhone design conventions shows an early example of what this might mean); perhaps it means decoupling data and presentation even more than we already have, and looking at a more ubiquitous approach to design; perhaps it means we’ll see the emergence of new creative workflows, and a new breed of designer (there are plenty of “creative technologists” emerging who fit the mould). Perhaps we’ll invent new tools, services and devices which change the way we experience, and perceive, the web.
Or perhaps we’ll just keep plodding on for the next ten years, pontificating and prevaricating, waiting year on year for the ratification of standards, stifling our creativity, innovating by increments, never really being progressive, never being bold. History has taught us that freedom and inclusion can reap huge rewards for all members of our society. The world wide web has shown us an inkling of it’s potential. But unless we take a good, hard look at one of it’s core principles: access for all – then that potential may not have a chance to blossom.
I posted up an article yesterday which summarised some do’s and don’ts for organisers of film events. It was prompted by my experience of a local film festival I attended this weekend, and contained some examples of things which I felt could have been done better.
Now, I appreciate the effort that goes into organising these kinds of events, and the contribution that is made by volunteers and contributors. Not to mention the fact that it was free to attend, thanks to public and private funding. So I was very careful not to criticise individuals or participants: I was airing my opinion about what I saw as a lack of care in the organisation and running of the events I attended.
I received quite an acerbic phone call from one of the festival organisers this afternoon, who took exception to my comments. As a gesture of good will (and because I like a quiet life), I’ve now edited the original article to remove some of the specifics of my criticisms. Not because the original piece was inaccurate or exaggerated (if you want to see the original, just contact me), but because the tone of the phone call was… well, let’s just say it wasn’t very pleasant.
I’m surprised that anyone would take the opinions of little old me so seriously. But when it comes down to it, that’s just what they are: my personal opinions, and I’m sorry if people don’t like them. Airing my views publicly has got me into hot water plenty of times in the past, and no doubt will continue to do so in the future.
This is an edited version of an article I posted on Sunday. You can read the reasons for the edit over here.
Since our decision to cease the CFN screenings as of the new year, we’ve been really enjoying getting out and about to attend events as patrons for a change. Although our screenings were only once a month, there was a heck of a lot of work involved: liaising with guest speakers, doing PR, researching films, programming films, preparing films, producing programmes – and that’s all aside from actually presenting the evenings themselves. So it’s nice to not have to worry about all those jobs right now, and to spend some time getting out and about seeing what everyone else is up to.
We’ve been to some good events so far this year, my favourite being the first short film evening at Lanternhouse, which I hope is going to become a regular fixture in Ulverston’s cultural scene.
This weekend we’ve been to some of the screenings and talks as part of the Film Insiders Talent Festival in Barrow, hosted by Signal Films. I couldn’t make it to this last year, so was doubly keen to make it along this time.
I went with an open mind, hoping that I was going to enjoy myself. Ultimately though, I was left disappointed. Not so much with the programming – the events themselves had good content, with some interesting people speaking – but the organisation and running of things seemed a bit slap-dash. Easily-avoidable technical problems spoiled proceedings at both of the evening events I attended, and seemed that there was no one person in charge of proceedings.
I know it’s a horrible cliche to say “I could do better than that”. But the fact is that I could, and more importantly, have repeatedly done better than what I experienced over this weekend.
Rather than just ranting about it, I thought it’d be worth posting up some constructive advice for anyone planning to organise a film screening event. We’ve been organising and hosting them regularly for quite a few years, and have learned a lot along the way. Here’s my bullet-proof list of how to run a successful film event.
1. Test everything
It really isn’t good enough rolling up an hour or two before your event, setting things up and hoping that everything will work. You’ll inevitably have some technical gremlins appear, and the only way you can iron them out is to prepare and test everything well ahead of time, and then when you’re happy with things: test it all again. We spent at least three solid days getting things checked and in place when we hosted Rule of Thirds last year, making sure that everything was water-tight, with plan B’s in place to cope with any unforeseen hiccups.
Don’t just hope for the best, because something will go wrong. Even if you’ve tested everything off-site, test it all again in situ at your venue. Technical glitches can seem like small hiccups to you, but can be a real annoyance to your audience, particularly if they’re persistent.
2. Sound is everything
You can just about get away with a slightly under-par picture, but your sound quality is of utmost importance. If your sound is bad, then everything else falls apart. It can create an awful experience for your audience, and can render films completely unwatchable.
This is relevant to both screening films, a Q&A session, or any other kind of presentation activity. Microphones need to be of a decent quality, and tested to make sure they’re working properly before proceedings begin: fiddling with things during the event really isn’t an option.
If you’re going to use a PA system, get someone who knows what they’re doing, and have them concentrate solely on running the sound throughout your event. It’ll save you so many headaches, and give you one less, very important thing to worry about. But, if you hire someone in, get them on recommendation: there are some rubbish sound technicians operating out there in the wild.
3. Respect your contributors
If you have a filmmaker in attendance to talk about their work, then you owe it to them to make doubly sure that everything runs smoothly. They will have invariably gone to quite some effort to join you, and quite often they’ll be a little nervous about speaking. If your event runs smoothly, and your audience are enjoying themselves, then it creates a comfortable atmosphere: you’re contributors will relax, feel more comfortable and ultimately give your audience a much better experience.
When your contributors arrive, make time to have a sit down and a short chat with them, even if you have a 101 other things to do. Make them feel at home, and explain the itinerary so they know when and where they need to be, and what to expect when they’re plunged in front of an audience. Technical or logistical hitches with a guest speaker is not only embarrassing for you and for them, it makes your audience squirm.
4. Don’t cause distractions
Once an event is underway, everyone should be seated or in position to do whatever they need to do. And that includes organisers. It can feel tempting to hover around at the back, or wander in and out looking busy. Once proceedings are underway, you should find yourself a seat closest to where you need to be, and stay there. Noise travels, particularly in a room full of seated, attentive people, so if people are moving around, or fiddling with things, it causes a terrible distraction for your audience.
If something needs fixing, it’s really best not to try to fix it until you have a natural break. This is particularly important while people are speaking: any kind of technical tinkering can be a horrible distraction, and can throw your speakers off their stride. If you do have something to sort out, don’t try to do it while your event is still running: wait, call a break, then fix it – you’ll get things sorted much more quickly, and you won’t look like such a shambles.
5. Have a master of ceremonies
I can’t stress how important this one is. Have one person in charge, curating the event and acting as host. They should be in charge of making sure the evening runs smoothly, dealing with any problems and generally keeping everything in check. Your event is destined to fail if you don’t have some kind of hierarchy and allocation of responsibilities.
I’ve witnessed far too many badly run events due to a simple lack of communication and planning. If nobody is in charge, then there is no focus for any crew or volunteers helping with your event, and problems are compounded.
And just hoping that people will be where you think they should be doesn’t work. People aren’t always under your jurisdiction, so you need to double-check they know where and when things are happening, and if you need to have someone with them, to give them guidance and support. It has the added advantage of helping you to deal with the running of things at lightening speed.
6. Don’t cause yourself problems
Always make sure you know where your assets are (without them, there is no screening), and always, always have a backup. Loosing a disc is unforgivable, and a coherent running order is a must.
And whatever you do, if you have lost a disc or something show-stopping has happened: never, ever announce it to your audience from your seat. Get up, stand at the front, apologise, and tell everyone you have a technical problem which you’re sorting out as quickly as you can – your audience need to be kept informed.
And one last, easily-avoidable headache: don’t swear. People haven’t come to your event to be sworn at, unless it’s during the course of open conversation with a contributor – but the use of bad language is entirely unnecessary, and a lot of people really don’t appreciate it.
7. Have a good presenter
If you’re running a Q&A session, it’s really worth trying to find someone who has a good presentation style – preferably someone who is personable and knowledgeable, someone who can connect with an audience. It’ll help your whole event to “gel” and is the best way to present an air of professionalism – and is a sure-fire way of getting people to return in the future. They should be well-dressed – not too formal, but at least make a bit of an effort – and should be full of energy, attentive and alert, with good posture (no slouching!)
8. Run things to schedule
Wherever possible, make sure that you run a tight schedule. Sometimes it’s necessary to delay things a little if you’re still waiting for audience members to arrive or iron out final logistics, but you need to weigh up the pros and cons of keeping everyone else waiting, at the expense of a couple of people having to shuffle in late. Some people don’t like to be kept waiting, so if you do have a serious delay (and I consider serious to be anything more than 5 minutes) you need to make an announcement.
Probably more important than starting on time, is finishing on time. It can be very inconsiderate to keep people around for longer than they expect, because they generally have places to be: a train to catch, a childminder to relieve, friends to meet, a parking ticket about to expire. Running everything to time puts across the impression that you’re running a tight ship, and keeps everything feeling sharp and dynamic, not lazy and lacklustre.
9. Thank everybody
Thank your contributors, thank your venue, thank your hosts, and most importantly thank your audience. But don’t let it turn into a lengthy oscar speech, you should keep it brief. By wrapping up with a round of “thanks” you nicely bookend your event, and prompt a hearty round of applause from your audience. There’s nothing worse than going to an event which isn’t concluded properly, and where things just dwindle.
The most emphasise should go to anybody who has contributed their time or resources for free – those are the people who have really made your event a success, and if you don’t thank them, they’ll be really cheesed off – and rightly so! I make a list before I present any kind of event, to make sure I’ve got everyone covered, and that gives me the rest of the time to figure out if I’ve forgotten anyone. It’s that mantra again: check, and then check again.
I wish I could round all these points up with a tenth, but right now, I can’t think of anything else. Those are the key areas I think: follow those words of advice, and I don’t think you can go far wrong.