Wrapping Chicago

An Event Apart Chicago has wrapped. It felt like the best one yet. Everything clicked.

There were as many designers as coders in attendance, as many Chicagoans as out-of-towners, as many agency people and freelancers as in-house folks, and nearly as many women as men. They engaged at “good morning” and stayed involved all day, asking shrewdly penetrating questions and sharing their own insights and experiences. Energy flowed not only between the floor and the seats but also from one seat to another. It felt like community.

This was the third time out for Eric, Jason, and me. Our talks were sharper and shorter — looser and more relaxed, yet also more focused than before. The rhythm was better. The balance between technical and aesthetic subjects, how much time was alloted to each, the way one theme flowed into another — the music of the day — felt tighter and truer than at events past.

Thanks to our sponsors at Adobe, AIGA, New Riders, and Media Temple, we were able to give away thousands of dollars worth of software, books, and services. (We’ll be doing the same at An Event Apart NYC next month.)

Guest speaker Jim Coudal‘s leisurely stories were like little grenades of inspiration. He tossed them out casually; moments later, they detonated.

The day formally ended with lively critiques of sites submitted by attendees. We tried this once before, at An Event Apart Philadelphia, with mixed results. This time it felt like it really worked. The day informally ended at Timothy O’Toole’s pub, with a mixer sponsored by Jewelboxing.

Time, and the blog posts of those who attended, will tell if the event was as good for you as it was for us. Sincere thanks to all who attended. Thanks also to Dawson, John Gruber, Amy Redell, Michael Nolan, and Orrin Fink.

And a reminder: the Early Bird Rate for An Event Apart NYC ends June 9th. That’s a week from today! On June 10th, the price will increase by $100. So if you’re thinking of attending An Event Apart NYC — two days of design and code — please register soon.

May Day, May Day

Every year or two a fresh crop of internet blowhards decides design doesn’t matter. Indeed, they proclaim that bad design is good. Not merely is it good, it is the secret to internet wealth and success, they tell us. Whereas, they assure us, user-friendly, brand-appropriate, professional graphic design — or even mere competence — is the royal road to Failureville.

I don’t understand the siren song of this demonstrably idiotic claim. I don’t know why it seduces a new crop of assh*les each year. I only know it does. And then, just as predictably, all the year’s hot young new media designers get in a huff defending design against the fools who attacked it.

Seems to me it might be better to let the anti-design dummies rant themselves out and roll along their happy ignorant path in search of new things to attack. Such as air. Or babies.

Maybe I am jaded. Or maybe it’s hard to get exercised over inanity you’ve seen recur so many times. The assertion that “bad design is good internet” has been made by one set of dorks after another since at least 1995. One prominent consultant aside, nobody can remember who these blowhards were. They charged full bore into obscurity, as dolts generally do.

So to this year’s hot (under the collar) web designers, remember: next year, you will still be designing beautiful websites. And the people who claim that bad design is good? If they’re lucky, they will be selling apples on the street corner.

In other news

  • It’s May Day. Immigrants protest, and rightfully so.
  • It’s May Day. And that means a reboot.
  • It’s May Day. And that means a reboot.
  • It’s May Day. A day that honors worker’s rights. So it is only fitting that May Day was also the day of the Canadian Union of Public Employees website reboot. Happy May Day! Happy workers! Happy Canadians! Happy Cog redesigned this site.

In other, other news

Registration is now open for An Event Apart NYC.

In other, other, other news

An Event Apart Chicago has sold out. Whee.

Happy Cog redesigns Advertising Age

Happy Cog’s redesign of Advertising Age, the leading journal of the advertising profession, debuted on Sunday 9 April 2006.

Along with a complete visual overhaul, the redesign included a restructuring and repositioning. In the past, the print magazine was Advertising Age and the website was, well, a website. But with this redesign, the full editorial experience of Advertising Age comes to the web.

In a welcome message, the magazine’s Scott Donaton writes:

For the first time ever, the full contents of the current issue of Advertising Age will be available online for subscribers on Sunday night, the day before the print edition hits newsstands and in-boxes.

Publishing is changing, advertising is changing, where people get their news is changing, and how publications earn their keep is changing. The journalistic enterprise is no longer one-sided: magazines, while remaining authoritative, must also listen to their readers’ voices — and readers want to know what other readers have to say. On top of all that, there were tough decisions to be made about free versus paid content.

Happy Cog worked closely and intensely with Advertising Age to solve architectural, design, and usability challenges. Considering the vastness of the undertaking (not to mention the fact that all of us are still figuring this stuff out) I think we did all right.

Thanks to Allison Arden and Jason Schmidt and their colleagues at Advertising Age for the opportunity, the thinking, and the support.

For Happy Cog: V.L. Bowls, Rob Weychert, Dan Cederholm, Erin Kissane, and Jason Santa Maria. You are all made of stars.

Zeldman.com Reloaded

With a book half-written, two conferences looming, and waves of client work smashing the levees, it seemed a good time to change hosts and funnel this old hand-tooled site into a modern content management system.

The site is now powered by WordPress (why?) and hosted by Media Temple (why?). The hand-rolled summaries feed has retired. In its place is full-text RSS 2.0. There is also a full-text Atom feed for those who like their tofu extra crunchy.

Feeds and browsers

As the DNS rolls over, revealing this post, the retired RSS feed will seamlessly redirect to the new. If you’re reading this but seeing the wrong feed when you click the little RSS badge in your browser’s address bar, you’re using Apple’s Safari, and it’s clutching dead files in its cache. Quit the browser and restart OS X to make Safari find the new feed.

(Safari users may not need to do any of this, of course. Bang-your-head-against-the-desk Safari caching problems typically only affect site owners and developers.)

Hacky sack

I wanted WordPress to do things my way, which meant getting under the hood. I needed to finish before SXSW, which starts tomorrow. And I didn’t have time to learn anything new.

So I asked Noel Jackson (home, agency, software) to do the light hacking required to make WordPress my beast. He made it happen well and fast.

Still to come

Haven’t implemented comments yet. Still considering how best to do so. May not get around to it until after An Event Apart Atlanta. Comments. Gar. After nearly 11 years without. Huge. Gotta ponder. As for My Glamorous Life, for the time being that part of the site is sealed off until I figure out how (if at all) I want to carry it forward.

Basically, though, we’re open for business. Welcome back. (If you haven’t read Why WordPress? and Why Media Temple?, now might be a good time to do that.)

[tags]zeldman, wordpress, blog[/tags]

Roadside link jamboree

WHILE I’M WRAPPING Web Design World Boston, here are some links for your pleasure:

In Search of a Perfect Plug-in Technique
First we had Flash embedding the automated way. It worked in all browsers but it didn’t validate. Then came Flash Satay and UFO, FlashObject and Hixie’s nested objects. Which techniques are most accessible and most reliable? Macromedia accessibility expert and occasional A List Apart author Andrew Kirkpatrick checked them all out and drew conclusions worth reading.
gotomobile: the mobile usability and UX blog
In the U.S. a mobile phone is a cell phone for making phone calls. In the rest of the world it’s a rich two-way media device. Starting a year ago, renowned designer Kelly Goto began travelling the world researching how handhelds are used today and discovering the emerging principles of ubiquitous computing. Kelly, who is here lecturing at Web Design World, maintains this mobile usability and user experience blog, to which she posts from her handheld camera/phone/whatever.
Seed Magazine
This beautiful and well-written periodical explores the changing role of science in our global culture. New York’s own Mike Pick and Tim Murtaugh created the clean, elegant, and playful site design (check out the little colored seedlings at the top left).
DropSend
Got big files to share? Files so big you can’t email them? Files too big even for Basecamp hosting and posting? DropSend has you covered. This fresh-off-the-vine web application by Ryan Carson takes ease of use to a new level, working well and simply as advertised. I use it. Try it, you’ll like it.
Folksonomy is such a lonely word
In this New York Times Magazine feature, Daniel H. Pink explains folksonomies to the non-digerati. As most people reading this page know, “folksonomy” is IA Thomas Vander Wal’s 2004 coinage for the tag-powered, communal taxonomies that are not merely changing how websites and web products are structured but how information is perceived and categorized all over.
Greg Storey portfolio
I’ve always thought Greg Storey was a heck of a designer. Now you can more easily see for yourself just how good he is.
Oh, the Plazes you’ll go!
Plazes (beta) is a spanking new web app offering a “grassroot approach to location-aware interaction, using the local network you are connected to as location reference. Plazes allows you to share you location with the people you know and to discover people and plazes around you. It’s the navigation system for your social life and it’s absolutely free.” I’m using it right now and it is cool.