First day at An Event Apart

After attending the first day of An Event Apart Boston I can say the Quinnipiac ICM program is very well aligned with the prevalent thinking of the experts in the field of Web design and Web technology who presented here. All the speakers brought up topics which directly relate to our User Centered Design, Visual Design, Interactive Techniques, and Project Planning courses. Here is a run down of the first day’s speakers.

Content First!

Jeffrey Zeldman did his Content First! Everything We Know Is Wrong” talk. His major points are:
1. Content is a design problem. Good web design starts with content. Yet our designs are often hostile to content.
2. If our designs don’t serve content, users will find ways to get the content anyway.
3. Mobile and responsive are creating a new interaction design landscape that puts users and content first.
4. If we don’t design with content first, our users will do it for us.

What’s Your Problem? Putting Purpose Back into Your Projects

Whitney Hess discussed the principles of problem solving. She described three major principals:

1. Process: Define the problem before trying to solve it
2 .People: Ask questions to root out the truth
3. Purpose: Be obsessed with the problem, not the solution

She uses paper, post-its, and white boards. How refreshing.

On Web Typography

Jason Santa Maria covered the basics of typography. You can’t underestimate the importance of good typography in Web design. I felt very at home with this presentation. I have been incorporating typography analysis and design ever since I designed my ICM visual design course back in 2006.

The Five Most Dangerous Ideas

Scott Berkun explained in a very entertaining talk how you can take control of the creative process in your professional sphere. He uses these points to being the idea home:

  • Everyone is a designer
  • You have (no) power
  • Generalists are in charge
  • We are all in sales
  • Creativity is risk

His point about generalists makes me realize how much ICM produces generalists, and that this is a good thing.

Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content

Karen McGrane, started out by comparing the content publishing strategies of Conde Nast and NPR. NPR, by using what it calls Create Once Publish Everywhere (COPE), has seen online viewership go through the roof. Her main point is that you should design with and for structured content. She complained that CMS is the enterprise software that user experience design forgot. Here is a list of activities that contribute to the creation of structured content to any platform:

CONTEXTUAL INQUIRY
USER PERSONAS
USER SCENARIOS
TASK ANALYSIS
WORKFLOW MAPPING
CARD SORTING
CONTENT MODELING
ITERATIVE PROTOTYPING
USABILITY TESTING
ANALYTICS DATA

Look familiar. Many of these are outcomes we strive for in the program.

Rolling Up Our Responsive Sleeves

Ethan Marcotte made the only semi-technical presentation of the day explaining how relatively simple CSS and Javascript can create a Web site that adapts to different viewing platforms. Ethan seems to be a bit of a demo god with this crowd. He stated the popular notion of responsive Web with his post in 2010 in A List Apart about responsive Web design. He showed some great resources including the Starbucks style guide. Way cool!

Now onto day two!


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