Hello, my name is: Amy

An Event Apart Chicago - Day 1

I've had my eye on An Event Apart fora while, and I'm super fortunate for this to be something I'm able to do. Before the conference I logged onto their site and became even more excited when I saw that my web hero, Jeremy Keith, would be there, along with my favorite podcast Shop Talk Show.

Turns out, a few of my initial thoughts about this conference have changed. A) No Jeremy Keith. B) Mysteriously no Shop Talk Show. (Just disappeared off of the schedule.) Even with the two things I was super stoked about missing, I've been trying to still maximize my enjoyment. Turns out it's not that hard. Here's a rundown of my experience with Day 1.

If you happen to read this, just know that the words below are only a representation of my notes and not some beautiful summary of what ideas were spoken about. This is more for me, than for you; but, if you get some use out of it or want to chat about some of the things I was wondering about, please do!

Designing with Web Standards in 2016, Jeffrey Zeldman

Presented the idea of designing a system, not designing a page. (General trend of the day.) Loved his thoughts around that a lot of the challenges we think are special now have been faced before. Really framed the problems as something that will always be there and to not get hung up on limitations. I think a lot of time we tend to make excuses for things that are hard. "Who uses Opera Mini?".

Mentioned a few books:

  • Adaptive web Design by Aaron Gustafson
  • Designing with Web Standards (self authored, older, interesting)

Used Instagram as an example of how the idea of only having a App isn't that great of an idea. Basically users are going to want an experience to be eventually tied in with the web somehow. Easier to share, experience without a huge burden of entry.

HTML - The cockroach that survives a nuclear disaster.

A lot to be said for just starting simply. Put content in HTML. Style the HTML. Enhance the HTML. (done.)

Your designs should be 90% typography and the other 90% whitespace.

Remove each detail from your design until it breaks.

Jeffrey has a pixel art pic of himself. I've seen it for a while. Would be a fun art project to try and create one for myself, just for kicks.

Nobody Waits.

Designing Deliberately, Yesenia Perez-Cruz

Presentation was excellent. Made me want to sign up for toast makers and learn some presenting skillz of my own. (Once I find something to say.) OMG beautifully designed slides.

Fast sites build trust.

Split design process up into three parts:

  1. Core content
  2. enhancement
  3. leftovers (analytics)

LOVE the idea of a performance budget. Either the actualy physcial time it takes to load the page over a specified connection, or the physcial weigth of the page (say, 600kb), or even to be x% faster than competition.

Someone has a performance budget calculator out there in existence somewhere. Your performance budget doesn't need to be the same for every page.

Adapting to Input

Jason Grigsby

Basically... don't try and detect for input. Design for 'all' inputs as best as reasonably possible. You basically can never know how someone will be connecting with your site and if they will even be contininuting the way that they originally were after the first interaction. (Just because the first intereaction was a mouse doesn't mean the second one will be.)

Interesting connection about how the hololens still tries to use 'mouse like' pointers, and how a difference experience exists with the occulus rift where its very much natural hand motions to do the same activities.

Basically how you'd do this would be to design all things for touch size, rather than trying to 'sniff' out what the user is doing.

Eventually there will be such a thing as a pointer event rather than having to create separate events for both moust and touch. Right now I believe there is a polyfill for this.

Style Guide Best Practices, Brad Frost

Brad totally swept me off my feet and his talk was so much fun (Even while he was sick!). It was cool to see his excitement, portrayed in a very associatable way. I love that Brad is a developer, than thinks in a designer way. This is definitely something I can associate with. I'll be happy to attend his 'A Day Apart' on wednesday (though after seeing my an event apart luck, I'm hoping he gets better quickly!)

Few sites of note:

Desigining for Understanding, Stephanie Hay

Again, another top notch presentation. Gave a lovely example of how structuring learning has worked for Sesame Street. Gave a few examples of how this has worked from video games. Love the idea that you don't have to know everything about a user in order to be able to personally communicate with them. You can get little bits and pieces over time and build from there.

$$ Also, Top Golf.

That is all. I need to try this out. Micro chips in golf balls. Alcohol is involved.

Revolutionize Your Page - Real Art Direction on the Web, Jen Simmons

I was surprised at how much I loved this talk. From twitter I was worried about it being... aggressive? That's not the right word, pushy?

First off, I want to go buy a book of beautiful layouts. Jen really exposes the art of front end development in a very cool way.

She mentioned feature queries which is clearly something I'm going to have to figure out, they seem pretty straightforward.

There's a new layout Idea that would be fun to try for mattjenkinscomic.com. Ok, maybe four new layouts!

Two plugins to make my life easier:

  • CSS Grid Inspector - Firefox Nightly (will definitely need this when I'm learning grid layout)
  • CSS Shapes Editor - Chrome - makes editing poly shapes in chrome hella easy!

Multicolumn layout?? No clues what this is but seems to be between flexbox and grid?? Needs further research...


Talking to people is hard. I said it. I could watch all these vidos online in a year or so and have a great experience. But, alone on your couch you can't turn to someone and ask what they thought, or if they are using whatever thing was just discussed. As I'm the one paying, I feel even more pressure to talk to as many people as possible to 'maximize my experience'.

An Event Apart is doing a pretty stellar job and helping people talk to each other. They have conference bingo, they have signs that help people find people at lunch. Autodesk sponsored a happy hour. Things are happening. And slowly and somewhat painfully I am taking advantage of those things.

All Super Exciting Stuff!!