Day two of An Event Apart brought six more exciting presentations, from Eric Meyer, Jeremy Keith, Aaron Walter, Andy Clarke, Ethan Marcotte, and Jeff Veen. They covered topics from the way CSS3 had made old designs easier and new designs more interactive to reminding us that our “users” are people.
7. Eric Meyer
- Presentation: Everything Old Is New Again
- The unexpected: lovely old-timey photos
- Favorite quote: “This page best viewed on my computer. Come on down!”
Eric is the sort of person who does not let technology tell him what he can do; he tells the the technology what it will do for him. He reminded us of the tricks he and other web gurus came up with in early days of CSS, and then showed us how much easier those same visual effects are with CSS3 becoming more broadly implemented in browsers.
8. Jeremy Keith
- Presentation: Paranormal Interactivity
- The unexpected: the BBC’s rendition of Marvin the Paranoid Android
- Favorite quote: “This effect doesn’t work in IE6, but I don’t give a shit.”
Jeremy reminded us that people not only read the web; they interact with it. Using examples from all media—from crosswalk signals to Super Mario Bros. to choose your own adventure books—he demonstrated how to make our websites more satisfying for the user. His introduction to the topic was particularly fun to me (being something of an amateur linguistics nerd), when he described speech as being a “clever hack.” Turns out that if you know the code base (English), you can decode the meaning both of his talk (thanks to your ears detecting the vibration of air molecules) and this very post (thanks to your eyes detecting light waves). Jeremy’s presentation provided a great example of the many ways that design effects the user, and how we can make the experience more real.
9. Aarron Walter
- Presentation: Learning to Love Humans —Emotional Interface Design
- The unexpected: Wall-E and Magic 8-Ball
- Favorite quote: “Shooting for usable is like a chef shooting for edible.”
Aarron focused on the emotions of the user, starting with an overview of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as well as his own version as it relates to the user experience. A website is only successful if it is pleasurable, as well as being functional, reliable, and usable. Among his lessons were: personality invites empathy; audio has a huge influence on experience; trust is a gut feeling; and the book is always better than the movie because the book lets you imagine your own version of the story. His many charming website and app examples are great places to look for inspiration.
10. Andy Clarke
- Presentation: Hardboiled Web Design
- The unexpected: Roger Rabbit
- Favorite quote: The differences between browsers provide “opportunities to be creative.”
Andy reinforced the messages of Dan and Jeremy (use progressive enrichment to provide visual rewards) and Eric (take advantage of the new abilities of CSS3), with the addition of his signature suit and cocktail. I was most impressed by his Hardboiled Store, which uses CSS3 transforms and transitions to create virtual books that would rotate to display their “backs.” The store beautifully degrades throughout modern browsers, of course.
11. Ethan Marcotte
- Presentation: A Dao of Flexibility
- The unexpected: architectural awesomeness
- Favorite quote: “Design for proportions, not pixels.”
Ethan lets his CSS knowledge shine by convincing us of the power of the flexible website layouts. In order to implement this approach, you must (1) first create a flexible grid using em units, (2) style images, videos, and objects with flexible widths, and (3) use media queries to tailor the design for varying viewport sizes. The media queries are an exciting addition since Ethan’s initial explanation of the fluid grid. His smooth presentation style impressed me, and provided a clear and exciting overview of ways to take advantage of new CSS3 features.
12. Jeff Veen
- Presentation: How the Web Works
- The unexpected: beer, gold, and telegraphs
- Favorite quote: Describing Twitter as the “most profound user feedback mechanism we have witnessed.”
Jeff wrapped up An Event Apart, and could not have done it better. His enthusiasm for the web and its people rang true, and charged up the audience whose brains were by now nearly overflowing. His assertion that the internet is a “giant copy machine”was particularly interesting to me. His core lessons were: the speed of an iteration beats the quality of the iteration; the value of the product grows exponentially with its number of users (Metcalf’s law); and, information wants to be free.
Folks headed over to the One Lounge in Dupont to hang out and reflect, after the last day of An Event Apart and before A Day Apart. I had the pleasure of chatting with Eric and Aarron at the same time—I am still not sure what earned me the pleasure!
Luckily for me, the fun had not yet drawn to a close, since I (most satisfyingly) had opted to attend A Day Apart the next day.