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What I learned at An Event Apart – Austin


Over the month of October, I recapped all 12 conference talks in previous blog posts. Looking back through my notes from each speaker and blogging about my take-aways helped me really organize my thoughts and remember all the great things I learned.

The things I heard at the conference fall into one of three categories:

  1. “Amen!” I know that already and totally agree!
  2. “Huh?” I don’t know that, and I realize how much I still need to learn!
  3. “I’m feeling convicted!” I know that, but don’t want to put it into practice. Either because it’s hard or just not fun or glamorous.

Here is the ‘big idea’ and/or lesson I took away from each of the 12 talks:

10 Commandments of Web Design – Jeffrey Zeldman

  • Stop focusing on ‘techy’ details and make your websites fun and playful – through conversational content.
  • Test everything – using Adobe Creative Cloud Edge Tools and also test your deeply held assumptions.

All of my thoughts on this talk

Faster Design Decisions with Style Tiles – Samantha Warren

  • During the design process, ask ‘Why?” in response to what they tell you, in order to get to the root of their statements
  • Ask metaphor questions like, “If your brand were a ____, it would be a _________ and why?
  • Begin using style tiles in my own design process.

All of my thoughts on this talk

Content/Communication – Kristina Halvorson

The story informs the format – think content first. My interpretation – The content informs the design

    • Require bulk of content up front and understand all content before designing.

All of my thoughts on this talk

A write/read (mobile) web – Luke Wroblewski

“It takes big changes to go small” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO

  • This means the mobile experience should have a focused and clear flow.
  • Remove extraneous bits of design and content that deters users from main purpose and call to action.

All of my thoughts on this talk

The map & the territory – Ethan Marcotte

As a web designer, I need to craft mobile experiences that ensures  that people who might feel like second-rate citizens do not also have a second-rate web browsing experience on the only device they can access the web on: their mobile device.

All of my thoughts on this talk

The Mobile Content Mandate – Karen McGrane

Disruptive Innovation = a product/service that is inferior in many ways comes out but ends up creating a brand new market of customers for their ‘inferior’ product or service

  • The connection I made and the example I can’t stop thinking about: DIY website solutions like Google Sites, SquareSpace, etc vs hiring a web designer/developer

All of my thoughts on this talk

The Long Web – Jeremy Keith

Treat navigation as second. On mobile, you can decide to only place navigation at the bottom of your site. The nav icon can just be an anchor link (#nav) to the bottom of the website, where the navigation resides. Alternatively, the navigation icon could link out to a separate page that only has nav on it – has same experience for user, but different approach for designer/developer.

All of my thoughts on this talk

Putting UI’s in Motion – Val Head

My biggest take-away was that I haven’t been really taking advantage of CSS Animations.

All of my thoughts on this talk

Preprocessing is for Everybody – Chris Coyier

  • CSS is meant for computers to understand – so lets make it more productive to write it by preprocessing!
  • I need to begin looking into and trying out SASS and proprocessing

All of my thoughts on this talk

Beyond Play – Joshua Davis

  • When you engage in creative play, you discover the unknown.
    • For example, I recently learned that 3M has a ’15 percent program’ that allows their employees 15% of their time to research and investigate their own ideas. As a result, products like scotch tap and sticky notes were invented. More about this idea here.
  • If you never engage in creative play, you are only going to replicate others’ work, rather than truly innovating.

All of my thoughts on this talk

What Clients Don’t Know and Why It’s Your Fault – Mike Monteiro

  • We have to understand that most people won’t buy design in their life and so the lack of understanding toward our industry should be understandable.
  • Communicate with clients like doctors communicate with patients.

All of my thoughts on this talk

It’s a Great Time to be an Experience Designer – Jared Spool

  • Innovation is about combining existing inventions in a new way:
    • think Instagram, which combined taking photos with social networks
    • think Apple’s support “Genius Bar”, where they combining appointments with customer support

All of my thoughts on this talk

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