Best AEA yet

Content strategist Kristina Halvorson prepares to address An Event Apart Seattle.

An Event Apart Seattle, our first three-day show, was our best yet. Not only was every speaker engaging and every topic relevant, but there was a thematic unity between presentations as leading-edge topics came to the fore. What came out at AEA Seattle 2010 will be the best practices of 2012. Fortunately, this year’s next four shows will feature many of the same speakers and topics.

Some highlights:

  • CSS3 media queries are the new hotness. They were explained and demonstrated to brilliant effect by Eric Meyer, Andy Clarke, and Ethan Marcotte. (More on this soon at A List Apart.)
  • Eric Meyer showed how to use media queries and box sizing to create adaptable layouts with a single stylesheet and a few rules. By adaptable layouts, I mean ones that switch from 3-column to 2-column to iPhone single column as the user resizes browser window. It even works in IE if you use a JavaScript scrim. The room gasped! The eternal problem—how to present different formats according to device size—now appears solved by web standards.
  • Luke Wroblewski’s extraordinary “Mobile First” presentation changed the way I think about web design. Luke showed how the mobile versions of many sites are strong, smart, and absurdly easy to use, while the “desktop” versions of these same sites suck. For instance, the mobile version of as well-known travel site gives me, the customer, a few big buttons making it easy for me to check in, check the status of my flight, and do one or two other things I actually want to do. By contrast, the desktop version is a confusing hodgepodge of ads, clutter, and Flash, with seemingly dozens of competing navigation aids, none of which offers me the opportunity to do what I need to do on the site. It isn’t that a different team is designing the mobile versions; it’s that the discipline of mobile forces any team to create lean, user-focused interfaces. Conceiving the mobile version first gives us the opportunity to create powerful sites that never lose sight of the person they’re designed for.

Relive the memories on A Feed Apart and Flickr and join us at the next An Event Apart show!

18 thoughts on “Best AEA yet

  1. After all of the twitter and online chatter I am even more excited (as if i could be) for AEA San Diego!

    Thanks for continuing to share great content with us.

    ~ Aaron I

  2. Congratulations on what sounds like an amazing event! Even though I couldn’t be there in person, it was fun living vicariously through the twitter feeds.

  3. I was so very sorry to miss out on this one. Please, please, please consider adding the Day Apart program to the DC event… That would be perfection (in a world organized for my convenience, since I’m moving to suburban DC this summer!)

  4. Funny photo of Kristina!
    Thanks for pulling this off. Thinking about AEA/SEA pretty much exactly what you just wrote here.


  5. It sure was a best ever conference yet! You guys bring the bar higher every time!!! If this is the way it will keep going, I am already looking forward to the next one… :-)

  6. This was yet another *rock star* show. Not only was the content fabulous, but the speaker’s were dynamic and engaging. The excitement you feel is contagious – AEA allowed me to form relationships with other like-minded designers. I can’t wait for the next one!

  7. Hear hear. I wish some of the other designers had come along. I need to re-teach what was taught unto me to the rest of the designers here. And then spread that like a germ to the engineers. Particular standouts for me were:
    • Nicole’s OO CSS (will be very handy for our app)
    • Luke’s “Mobile First!” preso.
    • Dan’s & Andy’s thematic unity that we can use CSS3 now! Don’t wait.
    • Jeremy’s revelations on how to use HTML5 DOCTYPE now on existing code, today, without any change to existing code; and then how to actually use the new elements with full backward compatibility. Fantastic.

    Overall, not a dud in the bunch. There was an AEA a couple of years ago that our whole UI team went to that had a reaction of “meh” from most of the designers. I think this one would have resonated much stronger with them.

    I have a boatload of notes to blog about on our intranet now. Thanks again.

  8. I love that line about, “What came out at AEA Seattle 2010 will be the best practices of 2012.” That would definitely be a great one-line description about AEA overall.

    I’m looking forward to the DC run in September. It’s a great excuse for visiting our families while we’re there too. ;)

  9. Haven’t stopped talking to (at?) the rest of the folks in the office since I walked in with all the great knowledge. After absorbing for three days, it’s so great to be able to relate and re-tell. Already working on creating a new primary message for our agency (thanks Kristina!) and figuring out what kind of design decisions we are making and what kind we should (thanks Jared!). And that doesn’t include the time I’m spending diving into CSS3 transforms and transitions. Thanks AEA!

  10. I would like to see some of these mobile techniques more widely circulated. Are there good reference books and/or blogs for those of us to poor to attend the conference? I’ve found a few books that devote a chapter or so to media queries or mobile devices, but nothing definitive yet on developing for many device sizes with web standards.

  11. Coming back to work after going to AEA (for the first time) this year has been hard, I admit. There are so many new ideas, concepts, and techniques to implement that I feel my brain is just about going to explode! Every speaker held me riveted through both days, and I couldn’t help but come away feeling exhilarated and passionate about what I do.

    If I were going to try to wrap AEA into one sentence for this year, I think I would have to quote Jeff Veen’s presentation: “I love the web!”

    I mean, seriously… with so much great stuff happening, how can we not? Thanks for the awesome experience; it was absolutely worth it.

  12. I couldn’t say anything about this AEA being the best ever, as it was just my first, but I can easily say that it was an excellent conference. The quality of the sessions, the discussions, the ideas running around in my head as a result…all made the trip worthwhile. I can safely say I will want to attend future AEA events.

  13. Ditto Heather and John L, I can’t thank y’all enough for such a fantastic event! I learned and took away more from AEA than from any other conference I’ve ever attended. Can’t wait to find out about the 2011 AEA lineup!

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