An Event Apart Orlando – Day 2

The second day, once again started strong. Jeremy Keith started things off with a joke. A joke that fit the venue and which I’m likely to share, but one you’re gonna have to ask me about in person. đŸ™‚

Jeremy Keith is a wonderful speaker and passionate advocate for progressive enhancement. His talk was titled “Enhance!”. He reminds us that the web is natively responsive, but it’s our design changes that break it. If we build from a base of semantic markup, then our fallback, when javascript is unavailable, will still be useable on any device. He also mentioned a technique pointed out by Ethan Marcotte, Cut The Mustard. It basically uses a simple javascript to check if the browser is able to display the javascripted goodies, and if it can, then enhance the site with it, if not, don’t bother loading it.

“Sofware, like all technologies, is inherently political. Code inevitably reflects the choices, biases and desires of its creators.” – Jamais Cascio

Jenn Lukas brought us the Developers Ampersandwich. She talked about the importance of developers understanding the designer’s intentions when translating design to working product. She then covered a ton of information surrounding font choices. Free fonts such as Google Fonts vs Typekit and similar services. Then onto SVG vs icon fonts. She discussed how some of these things impact load times, ease of use, and the ever important fallback effects to the design.

Content in Context by Derek Featherstone was a fun brain exercise. He talked about using responsive design. Responsive not only to screen size, but to location, position, proximity, capability, and even time of day. Many of these can be sensed by the latest technology and can be used to really wow our users. I’ll be looking at some of these possibilities for my sites in the future.

Surprisingly, one of my favorite talks was less about web, and more about people. Kevin M. Hoffman is an engaging and intelligent speaker. His talk, Codesign, Not Redesign, was a call for collaboration rather than isolation. He helped us understand and be reminded that the best product possible for our users will not come out of a 1 person design. It’s dangerous to assume that as the designer, we can design the perfect solution and then all we really need is the sign-off. The right way to do things is to get the stakeholders and users involved, and a productive meeting is one that has been planned and designed for a purpose.

“Lead with divergent thinking, end with convergent thinking.” – Kevin M. Hoffman

Kate Kiefer Lee talked about Touchy Subjects. My biggest take-away from her talk is about establishing Voice and Tone in my sites messaging. She impressed upon us the importance of our tone, especially when delivery messages that may be unfavorable to our users. Things like unsubscribe emails and error messages often get forgotten, but they convey how we feel about our users too. She also pointed out the Voice and Tone Guide by Mailchimp, which is a great template for setting the tone for your company communications.

Karen McGrane expressed the importance of isolating content from presentation. She reminded us that style and design and output medium will change, but we’ll still want the same content available. If you want your content to be available for use in the future, you have to keep your content separated from your styling.

This was another amazing day full of great inspiration and motivating talks. On top of it all, the talks were followed by some wonderful conversations, drinks and dinner with amazing designers from all over the world. What an incredible community!