An Event Apart Appearances CSS Design

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!

By L. Jeffrey Zeldman

“King of Web Standards”—Bloomberg Businessweek. Author, Designer, Founder. Employer Brand at Automattic. Publisher, & Ava’s dad. Pete’s brother (RIP). He/him.