2nd Day at An Event Apart Boston

The 2nd day of An Event Apart Boston was just as entertaining as the first. Did I say, “entertaining”? A Web design conference that is more than a series of dry presentations? The An Event Apart organizers bring in very talented speakers who have lots of practice at these sorts of meetings. Their slides are very well done and they speak comfortably, roaming the stage with wireless mics while there presentations are practically on auot-pilot.

Here is the day 2 summary:

The Future of CSS

Eric Meyer, Author, CSS: The Definitive Guide

This is really the near future, Very near. Eric Meyer spent the whole time doing a detailed analysis of cool styling using the background attribute for the label element around a radio button input, and gradients. This is one of those talks where I am glad I will have the presentation slides. He actually made this normally dry subject pretty interesting. Not for the CSS novice!

Interacting Responsibly (and Responsively!)

Scott Jehl, Author, Designing With Progressive Enhancement

Scott Jehl’s talk was about being responsible with the download speed of Web pages. He realized this was important while traveling to remote parts of the world and not able being able to connect due to impossibly slow download rates. He described how many things that make up a contemporary Web page have become very large sue to be ing spoiled by high bandwidth. Scott described a series of techniques to reduce the size of Web page components.

Buttons Are a Hack

Josh Clark, Author, Tapworthy

Josh Clark did a fascinating presentation entitled “Buttons are a Hack: The New Rules of Designing for Touch” He demonstrated some of the interface controls that made their way to gesture controlled interfaces, and end up being silly solutions on tablets and smart phones. Josh explained some of the inherit problems translating a Web page to a touch interface, and showed some examples where designers got it right. He did a great sequence showing the absurdity of some systems that have inane instructions to use, and how you can help people to learn a new interface with what I call contextual help. He sees it as three stages: Coaching, Leveling up, and Power ups. He said “Play more video games”. Video game designers seem to get it right when showing how to use an interface. When done right there is never a manual or even a “How to” page.

Mobile to the Future

Luke Wroblewski, Author, Mobile First

Luke Wroblewski, is someone I use in my User Centered Design course. This was a great presentation focusing on the seemingly mundane log in and check out screen. Its amazing how many lessons about designing for mobile come out examining these two common interactive experiences.

Handcrafted Patterns

Dan Cederholm, Co-founder, Dribbble.com

Dan Cederholm, Co-founder, Dribbble.com, did a technical presentaion about patterns in Web page display and how to build and design understanding the role of HTML patterns. He show cased his open source “pears” project, a neat way to view the impact of changes to CSS and HTML on the Web page output. He spent a lot of time on the CSS pre-processor, SASS, as an advanced way to manage CSS in a “Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY)” manner.

The Curious Properties of Intuitive Web Pages

Jared Spool, Founder, User Interface Engineering

Jared Spool was the most entertaining speaker. He spoke about Web site re-design disasters when organizations do a complete re-design and then flip the switch. Jared spent a lot of time on the topic of “A theory of intuitive design” and demonstated how people learn to do stuff using the Magic Escalator of Acquired Knowledge diagram.

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