An Event Apart New Orleans

An Event Apart, the design conference for people who make websites, kicks off its 2008 season with An Event Apart New Orleans, a monster, 19-hour, two-day creative session. Join us April 24–25 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside for two intense, 9.5-hour-long days of learning and inspiration, featuring twelve of your favorite web design authors.

  • See Dave Shea, co-author, Zen of CSS Design, explore what makes sites flexible visually, experientially, and code-wise.
  • See Jeff Veen, design manager, Google, explore how new thinking, born of creating the latest generation of web apps, is being infused into design practices.
  • See Robert Hoekman Jr., author, Designing the Obvious, perform slam-bang, on-the-spot usability reviews of sites submitted by our live audience on the fly.
  • See Cameron Moll, author, Mobile Web Design, uncover the differences between good and great design.
  • See Aaron Gustafson, co-author, AdvancED DOM Scripting, go beyond “unobtrusive” JavaScript to truly meet users’ needs, no matter what their device or platform, by applying the principles of “progressive enhancement” to client-side scripting.
  • See Andy Clarke, author, Transcending CSS, explain how comic books inspire his award-winning web layouts.
  • See Stephanie Sullivan, co-author, Mastering CSS with Dreamweaver CS3, explore practical, standards-based approaches and techniques to some of today’s toughtest design challenges.
  • See Aarron Walter, author, Building Findable Web Sites, explain “findability bliss through web standards SEO”
  • See Brian Oberkirch, Publisher, Like It Matters, review, catalog, dissect, and champion small design victories that daisy chain to create a delightful overall user experience.
  • See Jason Santa Maria, designer, Happy Cog, share techniques for maintaining individuality and brand distinction in a world of generic templates and design sameness.
  • See An Event Apart co-founder Eric Meyer, author, CSS: The Definitive Guide, present two new talks that shed brilliant light on the darkest corners of CSS.
  • As for me, I’ll be doing two new sessions on the whatness of web design (what it is, what it ain’t, and why it matters) and the whereness of web standards (as in, where we are with them).

It’s the longest, biggest, densest, hardest, coolest show we’ve ever done, and we’re doing it where Louis learned to blow his horn. Join us if you can.

Can’t make New Orleans? Join us in these cities!

  • Boston, June 23–24
  • San Francisco, August 18–19
  • Chicago, October 13–14

Tickets for all four shows are on sale now.

[tags]aneventapart, webdesign, conference, neworleans, aeaNOLA08[/tags]

Blue Beanie Day

On Monday, November 26, 2007, don your blue beanie to show your support for web standards and accessibility. So goes the pitch by Douglas Vos, founder of Facebook’s Designing With Web Standards Group:

Monday, November 26, 2007 is the day thousands of Standardistas (people who support web standards) will wear a Blue Beanie to show their support for accessible, semantic web content. … Don a Blue Beanie and snap a photo. Then on November 26, switch your profile picture in Facebook and post your photo to the Blue Beanie Day group at Flickr.

Is this silly or serious? Seems to me, it’s a bit of both. If enough people do it on enough social networks, it might even raise web standards awareness in a small but positive way. (As opposed to, say, busting people for a validation error, which, surprisingly, doesn’t win you their love.)

Participation is easy. Here are the instructions, from Facebook’s Blue Beanie Day Event Page:

  1. Make a personal commitment to fight Web Standards Apathy. Show solidarity with the Standardistas on November 26th, 2007.
  2. Buy, beg, or borrow a Blue Beanie (blue hat or cap, even a black or grey one will do in a pinch.)
  3. Take a photo of yourself wearing the Blue Beanie. Or take a cool group photo of you and your friends wearing Blue Beanies.
  4. Post your photo, or photos to Facebook, the Flickr pool, and other social networks on November 26th, 2007. Remember to switch your profile photos that day on all your social networks, like Flickr, Twitter, Last.fm, iLike, Pownce, Dopplr… you name it.
  5. Promote Blue Beanie Day in your blog or wiki starting today, and tell all your friends to get ready for Blue Beanie Day. Start by inviting all your Facebook friends to this event.

Related Links

[tags]webstandards, webdesign, accessibility, bluebeanieday, blue beanie day,facebook, twitter[/tags]

Deck deal

We have a slot open for November in The Deck, our advertising network for reaching creative, web and design professionals. Give us a holler if you can pull the trigger quick and we’ll make a nice deal for a first-time advertiser.

Comments off.

[tags]deck, thedeck, advertising, ad, network, creative, web, design[/tags]

Faster, pussycat

Have you ever bought clothes while traveling, and been unable to fit everything in your suitcase when it was time to go home? That suitcase is what my days are like now. For starters, The Wife and I are buying an apartment—or at least we are attending all the meetings, filling out all the paperwork, hiring all the attorneys and assessors and brokers and fixers, faxing and messengering and hand-delivering all the documents, auditing all the books, returning all the missed calls, sending all the e-mails, digging through spam traps for all the missed e-mails, rescheduling all the appointments, raising all the money, applying to borrow all the much more money, digging and refilling all the holes, and running up and down all the staircases that are supposed to lead to us owning a place.

Timing is the secret of comedy and an ungovernable variable in life. Our first-time homebuying marathon comes during one of The Wife’s busiest weeks at The Library, and amid a frenzy of new client activity at Happy Cog and the planning of next year’s An Event Apart conferences. In my idiocy, I agreed to speak at other people’s conferences, which means I need to create the content for those engagements. I am days behind in everything because completing the Findings From the Web Design Survey sucked nights, days, and dollars. It was our Apocalypse Now. The dog is sick and requires constant watching. The Girl must be taken to preschool and picked up and played with and loved and taught and put to bed.

My life is like everybody’s. I’m too busy and I’m grateful for everything, but I worry that I will miss some detail, forget some essential, give less than everything to some e-mail or document review or design.

I intended to write about the Findings From the Web Design Survey on the night we finally published them, but there was nothing left inside. I intended to write about them this morning, but instead I have written this excuse for not writing about them. During my next break between brokers, I will clear up one area of confusion as to the motivation behind the survey’s undertaking.

Meantime, Eric Meyer, the survey’s co-author and co-sponsor, has written nice pieces about practical problems overcome in the survey’s creation, and how to keep probing the data for new answers and new questions.

[tags]aneventapart, alistapart, webdesignsurvey, design, survey, happycog, homeownership, NYC, newyorkcity, newyork[/tags]

Findings from the Web Design Survey

Happy Cog, A List Apart and An Event Apart produce free 80-plus page report; first true picture of the business of web design.

In April 2007, A List Apart and An Event Apart conducted a survey of people who make websites. Close to 33,000 web professionals participated, providing the first data ever collected on the business of web design and development as practiced in the U.S. and worldwide.

Months of data crunching later, what emerges in our free 80-plus page report is the first true picture of our powerful yet little-studied profession. Presenting the Findings From the Web Design Survey.

Join the conversation

Comments off. After reading the 80-plus page report, please join the conversation at A List Apart.

[tags]webdesign, survey, webdesignsurvey, profession, careers, salaries[/tags]

The Joy of Technology

Good morning. Twitter, Facebook, iLike, and Word have imploded. After going offline for improvements, Twitter shows my previous custom background instead of my current choice. Random user preference rollbacks aside, at least Twitter still works. In fact it seems peppier.

Meantime, iLike in Facebook no longer shows live playlists now that iLike has officially made it possible to merge the two accounts. Playlists worked in Facebook before the announcement. (Before, iLike’s FAQ said it was impossible to merge the two accounts; but it was possible and worked well. Then iLike announced that you could at last merge the two accounts, and a nervous engineer apparently changed a setting, breaking the linkage.)

Not to be outdone by upstart web apps, Microsoft Word quits when I edit a document, and none of the standard fixes help. Word has not been updated for the Macintosh for years, of course, and it runs in emulation on Intel Macs, but I am used to that. Updating the Normal template was the last thing I did before Word started eating its own head.

Mmm, that’s good coffee.

It goes without saying that I’m editing documents of some importance.

If I open the documents in Pages, Pages posts a “Can’t find spell checker” error box. When I close the error box, Pages posts it again. When I close it again, Pages opens it again. This loop continues beyond Armageddon.

If I edit the documents in TextEdit, I can’t format them correctly, and Word’s non-standard hyperlink formatting turns nightmarish.

Third sip of coffee. Just another day at the office.

[tags]twitter, facebook, ilike, ilike.com, webapps, socialsoftware, word, microsoftword, microsoftoffice[/tags]

Facebook Considered Harmless

IN 1995, I RECKONED everyone would teach themselves HTML and start homesteading on the web. When that didn’t happen, I spent three years on a free tutorial I figured would give the world the push it needed. It didn’t.

I was an early blogger and a late user of blogging software because, why did anybody need blogging software? Wrong. Always wrong.

In 2004, some colleagues and I contributed to the “new” Blogger. We were excited by the thought of bringing well-designed, easy-peasy, standards-compliant web publishing tools to millions of people. Now everyone can do this, we thought. And millions did.

But not everyone, it turns out, wants to blog. Blogging is hard. There’s, like, thoughts and stuff that you have to come up with, even if someone else handles the whole “what should my blog be like and what should it do and how should it be organized and what should it look like” part.

No, what most people were really looking for—or at least, what most people have responded to since such things became available—were web gizmos as easy as farting and as addictive as cigarettes. “Social software.” “Web 2.0.” Swimming pools, movie stars.

All this to preface the unremarkable yet strange to those who know me fact that yesterday I signed up for Facebook. And spent several hours messing with it. And checked it this morning before making coffee, before making breakfast for The Wife and I, before bringing The Child her strawberry milk.

Facebook is a walled garden and I am religiously opposed, but here we are and there I am.

Facebook is pretty. It works with Ma.gnolia. It works with Twitter. In theory it works with iLike, except that you can’t add an existing iLike account to Facebook, which is lame and sucks and iLike’s fault, and the fact that I care and am bothering to share such trivia shows how deeply assimilated I have become over the past 24 hours, eight of which I spent sleeping.

As when I joined Twitter, the first thing I noticed was how many of my friends and colleagues were already there ahead of me. Why none of them had invited me to join, bastards, I leave to their consciences, not that I’m bitter. They redeemed themselves by responding within an hour or less when I asked to be their “friends,” not that I’m keeping score.

I don’t need more friends and I don’t need more contacts. I avoided most of the first-generation social software that was all about Rolodex building, and only gave in to the main one everyone knows and which I shall not name when a loved old client of mine invited me to join his network. Since I made that mistake, I get lots more mail, and lots more mail is something else I don’t need.

But I design interfaces so I’m supposed to know about this stuff. That’s the rationale behind my spending hours of billable time adjusting my Facebook preferences. The real reason, of course, for all this stuff, is that it provides a way to blow off work you should be doing, while creating the illusion that you are achieving something. At least in most offices, you can’t masturbate at your desk. But you can Tweet.

[tags]socialsoftware, web2.0, facebook, twitter, flickr, blogs, blogging, community, walledgarden[/tags]

How to make love to a ghost

Sunday morning, while dreaming, I began receiving messages from the other world. They covered matters of etiquette when interacting with the dead, and even offered glimpses of what the spirit life is like:

  • Do not accept food from a ghost.
  • Do not make love to a ghost, even if she is your wife.
  • Don’t ask ghosts questions about time. They don’t understand them.
  • Fill your eyes with tears. That is how a ghost sees.

These messages were conveyed clearly, and with authority. Although I knew their origin, I was not afraid. So matter-of-fact was my acceptance that I began framing what I was learning within a normal workday context. Specifically, I realized that these messages made the perfect Tweets.

For while Twitter may reduce the immense possibilities of communication to single-line banalities of 140 characters or less, it is paradoxically the perfect vehicle for distilling and broadcasting profound, irrational truths, such as those the dead share with us while we dream.

This dream also involved Robert Benchley and so many cartoonish implausibilities that it is possible that the messages I received came only from my own mind. But is that not equally infinite?

(The dream’s plot involved a luxury cruiser, torpedoed in World War II. Benchley, urbane in middle age, piloted a series of unlikely rescue vehicles, including a school bus that somehow managed to navigate the ocean and deftly avoid smacking into large chunks of wreckage. It was night, and raining, and black and white. A young Michael Keaton, who was sometimes a young Jack Nicholson, also played a role in the endless and pungently fraught narrative.)

[tags]ghosts, afterlife, twitter, webapps, robertbenchley, michaelkeaton, jacknicholson, dreams, death[/tags]

Event Apart Chicago wrap-up

The sights, sounds, and sense of An Event Apart Chicago 2007. Thank you, Chicago. You rocked. (Literally.) An Event Apart San Francisco is our next and final show of the year.

An Event Apart Chicago 2007 Photo Pool
Those who were there share photos in and out of the conference.
Blog reactions to An Event Apart Chicago ’07
Via Technorati.
An Event Apart ’07 Extended Mix
The interstitial playlist from the show.
Middle West
Speaker Dan Cederholm’s recap of the event.

One track continues to rule. It rules because you don’t have to decide where to go and what to miss. But it also rules because the conversations in the hallways and pubs can be centered around the same sessions. There’s no “ah, I missed that one because I saw ______ instead”. There’s a complete shared experience between all attendees, and that’s a very good thing.

Seven Lies in Chicago
Liz Danzico recaps her presentation and answers questions about information architecture.
Best Practices for Web Form Design
Slides from the powerful and incredibly useful talk by Luke W. “I walked through the importance of web forms and a series of design best practices culled from live site analytics, usability testing, eye-tracking studies, and best practice surveys. Including some new research on primary and secondary actions, and dynamic help examples.”
Design Your Way Out of a Paper Bag
Luke W: “Jason Santa Maria’s Design Your Way Out of a Paper Bag highlighted some of his creative process when working on the redesign of popular Web destinations.”
Search Analytics
Luke W: “Lou Rosenfeld’s Search Analytics talk at An Event Apart outlined ways designers and developers could utilize search query logs to uncover insights about their site’s audience and needs.”
7 Lies about Information Architecture
Luke W: “Liz Danzico’s talk at An Event Apart dissected seven often-cited information architecture rules and highlighted counter examples that exposed why these rules might be better suited as design considerations.”
Selling Design
Luke W: “Zeldman discussed the soft skills that enable designers to get great work out in the world.”
KickApps at An Event Apart
Dwayne Oxford: “It’s difficult to walk away from an event like this without a fresh perspective on CSS and the DOM, a head-full of elegant design techniques, and enough inspiration to catapult our work to the next level.”
On An Event Apart Chicago 2007
Brain Freeze on AEA: “Never a boring moment.”
She car go
Speaker, developer and author Jeremy Keith shares his experience of An Event Apart Chicago.

[tags]aeachicago07, aneventapart, aneventapartchicago, chicago, design, web, webdesign, conference, conferences, ux, userexperience, dancederholm, simplebits, lizdanzico, jimcoudal, derekfeatherstone, lousrosenfeld, jeremykeith, lukewroblewski, jasonsantamaria, ericmeyer, zeldman, jeffreyzeldman[/tags]

InterNetwork

Why does every single social network community site make you:

  • re-enter all your personal profile info (name, email, birthday, URL etc.)?
  • re-add all your friends?

And why do you have to:

  • re-turn off notifications?
  • re-specify privacy preferences?
  • re-block people you don’t want to interact with?

Brainstormed by Daniel Burka, Eran Globen, Brian Oberkirch and Tantek Çelik, Social Network Portability, an emerging article at microformats.org, is an attempt to begin tackling these problems for good. Big- and little-d designers, you can help.

[tags]socialnetworks, portability, microformats, standards, social network portability[/tags]