“WE KICKED OFF WITH a discussion on web platforms, perhaps the most widely-changing aspect of the web in the past 18 months. Zeldman began with a story about his efforts to check in to his upcoming flight to SXSW from a taxi cab in New York. He entered his details into his airline’s mobile app and clicked the ‘log in’ button, only to be taken to their desktop website which required Flash to log in, which inevitably, his iPhone didn’t support. How did this kind of user experience failure occur? …
“Moving on, the panel began to discuss publishing. The advent of plugins like Readability and a new product Roger Black is working on called TreeSaver allow readers to specify how they want to see content, and the advent of web standards means that content is generally separated from presentation, to the benefit of the reader. Zeldman made the point that the entire platform is for content, which makes it odd when some products are designed with the content being the last thing in mind.”
“The paywall quickly came up and the overwhelming ethos from the panel was “if you have exclusive great stuff, people will pay for it”. Dan Mall suggested that traditional publishers didn’t understand alternative modes of publishing and were attempting to price them at the same rate as their paper-and-ink versions. Mandy Brown joked that many publishers saw the iPad as their saviour, just like they did with the CD-ROM back in the 90s. She also made the point that despite its web-savvy audience, the A Book Apart project’s sales were 75% print. …
ON SUNDAY, while leading a discussion on the future of web design and publishing, I noticed a slightly confused look appearing on some faces in the audience. The discussion had been billed as “Jeffrey Zeldman’s Awesome Internet Design Panel,” and I thought perhaps there was a disconnect for some in the audience between “design” and such topics as where content comes from and who pays for it.
So I asked, “Who here is in publishing?”
A few hands were gently raised.
Uh-huh. “And how many of you work on the web?”
Every right hand in the room shot up.
“You are all in publishing,” I explained.
Now, I like a good rounded corner talk as much as the next designer. I’ve given my share of them. Also of line height and measure, color and contrast, how to design things that don’t work in old versions of Internet Explorer, and so on. In the practice of web and interaction design, there will always be a place for craft discussions—for craft is execution, and ideas without execution are songs without music, meaningless.
But right now (and always) there is a need for design to also be about the big strategic issues. And right now, as much as design is wrestling with open vs. proprietary formats and the old challenges of new devices, design is also very much in the service of applications and publishing. Who gets content, who pays for it, how it is distributed (and how evenly), the balance between broadcast and conversation, editor and user—these are the issues of this moment, and it is designers even more than editors who will answer these riddles.
HEY, YOU WITH THE STARS in your eyes. Yes, you, the all too necessary SXSW Interactive attendee. Got questions about the present and future of web design and publishing for me or the illustrious panelists on Jeffrey Zeldman’s Awesome Internet Design Panel at SXSW Interactive 2011? You do? Bravo! Post them on Twitter using hashtag #jzsxsw and we’ll answer the good ones at 5:00 PM in Big Ballroom D of the Austin Convention Center.
Topics include platform wars (native, web, and hybrid, or welcome back to 1999), web fonts, mobile is the new widescreen, how to succeed in the new publishing, responsive design, HTML5, Flash, East Coast West Coast beefs, whatever happened to…?, and many, many more.
Comments are off here so you’ll post your questions on Twitter.
The panel will be live sketched and live recorded for later partial or full broadcast via sxsw.com. In-person attendees, arrive early for best seats. Don’t eat the brown acid.
HEY, KIDS! GUESS WHO’s the keynote speaker at DIBI (pronounced “dibby”), the two-track Design It Build It web conference, June 7–8, 2011 at The Sage Gateshead venue in the Northeast of England? That’s right, it’s little old me. Join me for two tracks of design and development pleasure:
Design It track speakers include Faruk Ates, Jared Spool, Mike Kus, Inayaili de Leon, Jeremy Keith, and Brian Suda.
Speakers for the Build It track are Corey Donohoe, Blaine Cook, Lorna Mitchell, Bradley Wright, Rich Thornett and Jake Archibald.
There’s also “An Afternoon With…” half-day session focused on start-ups. The afternoon session is free to all conference pass-holders.
Tickets go on sale 13 January 2011. Follow dibiconf for announcements.
Keep up with my comings and goings on Lanyard and this site’s new Appearances page (in progress), follow me on Twitter (@zeldman), and keep watching the skies at An Event Apart, the design conference for people who make websites.
He brought us The Web Standards Project, A List Apart, Designing With Web Standards, A Book Apart, and so much more. Now legendary blogger, designer, and creative gadfly Jeffrey Zeldman brings us a SXSW panel.
You, the people, have spoken. We will not let you down.
According to Lanyrd and this Amtrak ticket, I’m on my way to Washington, DC, home of the 9:30 Club, Embassy Row, museums and monuments, and the site of An Event Apart DC—three days of design, code, and content for people who make websites.
I love DC the way someone who used to live there loves a town. In DC I fell in love, played in some little-known but great bands, wrote for City Paper and The Washington Post, and started an advertising career that would take me to New York and lead me to web design.
And now, in the very neighborhood where I once struggled to pay rent, a place haunted by a friend’s ghost and memories of ordinary madness, I’m co-hosting a three-day celebration of a profession that didn’t exist fifteen years ago and that is only now coming to maturity. (I can relate.)
I’m truly looking forward to this conference and to meeting some of you there. For those who can’t attend, there’s A Feed Apart, An Event Apart’s official aggregator of live tweets, and, of course, the Flickr group. These should start filling with content shortly after the conference begins on Thursday morning.
A List Apart and .net magazine have long admired each other. So when .net editor Dan Oliver did me the great honor of asking if I wished to guest edit an issue, I saluted smartly. The result is now arriving in subscriber post boxes and will soon flood Her Majesty’s newsstands.
In .net magazine Issue No. 206, on sale 17th August in UK (and next month in the US, where it goes by the name “Practical Web Design”), we examine how new standards like CSS3 and HTML5, new devices like iPhone and Droid, and maturing UX disciplines like content strategy are converging to create new opportunities for web designers and the web users we serve:
Exult as Luke Wroblewski shows how the explosive growth of mobile lets us stop bowing to committees and refocus on features customers need.
Marvel as Ethan Marcotte explains how fluid grids, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries help us create precise yet context-sensitive layouts that change to fit the device and screen on which they’re viewed.
Delight as Kristina Halvorson tells how to achieve better design through coherent content wrangling.
Thrill as Andy Hume shows how to sell wary clients on cutting-edge design methods never before possible.
Geek out as Tim Van Damme shows how progressive enhancement and CSS3 make for sexy experiences in today’s most capable browsers—and damned fine experiences in those that are less web-standards-savvy.
You can also read my article, which asks the musical question:
Cheap, complex devices such as the iPhone and the Droid have come along at precisely the moment when HTML5, CSS3 and web fonts are ready for action; when standards-based web development is no longer relegated to the fringe; and when web designers, no longer content to merely decorate screens, are crafting provocative, multi-platform experiences. Is this the dawn of a newer, more mature, more ubiquitous web?
Today’s web is about interacting with your users wherever they are, whenever they have a minute to spare. New code and new ideas for a new time are what the new issue of .net magazine captures. There has never been a better time to create websites. Enjoy!
Photo by Daniel Byrne for .net magazine. All rights reserved.
The show’s over but the photos linger on. An Event Apart Minneapolis was two days of nonstop brilliance and inspiration. In an environment more than one attendee likened to a “TED of web design,” a dozen of the most exciting speakers and visionaries in our industry explained why this moment in web design is like no other.
Next up: An Event Apart DC and San Diego. These shows will not be streamed, simulcast, or repackaged in DVD format. To experience them, you must attend. Tickets are first-come, first-served, and every show this year has sold out. Forewarned is forearmed; we’d love to turn you on.
I have known 37signals CEO Jason Fried since he was a young copywriter who reminded me of me, only smarter and more confident. Like many of you, with a mixture of awe and pleasure, I have watched him change our industry, along with book publishing and business generally. Dan Benjamin and I are delighted to announce the mercurial Mr Fried as our guest on The Big Web Show. Join us today, 1 July 2010, for the live taping at 1:00 PM ET.
Jason’s official bio is brief, but he can write at length when he wishes: see Rework, Getting Real, and Defensive Web Design, each a classic, and to each of which he was principal co-writer and guiding force. Besides saying no to meetings, contracts, and VC money, Jason and 37signals are famous for godfathering a speedy, iterative form of web application design; for gifting the industry with Ruby on Rails; for creating a suite of beloved (yes, really) business productivity web apps; for mastering and then abandoning client services in favor of making stuff; for somehow, in the midst of all that busyness, churning out tons of fine content on their popular blog; and for being roommates with the equally fantastic Coudal Partners.
Can’t wait to interview Jason Fried in front of a live internet audience today. Hope you’ll join us.
The Big Web Show is taped live in front of an internet audience every Thursday at 1:00 PM ET on live.5by5.tv. Edited episodes can be watched afterwards (often within hours of taping) via iTunes (audio feed | video feed) and the web.
And I’m off on a mini road trip to Penn State and its annual web conference, where I’ll be honored to deliver the opening keynote on standards-based web design, from 1452 to the present.
The Penn State Web 2010 Conference (@PSUWebConf) takes place Monday and Tuesday, June 7 and 8, 2010 at the Penn Stater Conference Center. Patti Fantaske is chair. The conference is for all who manage, write, edit, design, program, or administer websites or web content at university offices, departments, colleges, and campuses.
An Event Apart, the design conference for people who make websites, has posted its Minneapolis 2010 schedule. Join Eric Meyer and me and ten amazing guest speakers on July 26-27, 2010 for two great days of design, code, and content:
Nothing teaches like failure. Web standards godfather and An Event Apart cofounder Jeffrey Zeldman shares some of his biggest blunders as a designer, entrepreneur, and creative director, and how each mistake taught him to be better at what he does. Study what the problem was and why the mistake seemed like the right answer at the time; see why it turned out to be a really bad idea after all; and learn the great positive lesson each mistake taught.
Have you fallen in love with your solution and forgotten the original problem? Are you certain that your product actually makes people’s lives better? Not every company can hire someone like me to help you listen to your users, so you’re gonna have to learn how to do some of this stuff yourself. I’ll show you techniques to find out who your users are, what they really need and how to go about giving it to them in an easy to use and pleasurable way. And it doesn’t have to bankrupt you or kill your release date.
The CSS3 Experience
Dan Cederholm, author, Bulletproof Web Design and Handcrafted CSS
In a fast-paced hour of design ideas and techniques, learn how advanced CSS and CSS3 can add richness to your site’s experience layer, and discover the role CSS3 can play in enhancing interactivity.
More often than not, the mobile experience for a web application or site is designed and built after the PC version is complete. Learn the three reasons web applications should be designed for mobile first instead: mobile is exploding; mobile forces you to focus; and mobile extends your capabilities.
Learning To Love Humans—Emotional Interface Design
Humans, though cute and cuddly, are not without their flaws, which makes it a challenge to design for them. By understanding how the wet, mushy processor works in these hairy little devils, you can design interfaces and web experiences that will have them hopelessly devoted to your brand. Aarron will introduce you to the emotional usability principle—a design axiom that identifies a strong connection between human emotion and perceived usability. Through real-world examples, you’ll learn practical interface design techniques that will make your sites and applications more engaging to the humans they serve.
What separates a good design from a bad design are the decisions that the designer made. Jared will explore the five styles of design decisions, showing you when gut instinct produces the right results and when designers need to look to more user-focused research.
Media Temple’s opening night parties for An Event Apart are legendary. Join the speakers and hundreds of fellow attendees for great conversation, lively debate, loud music, hot snacks, and a seemingly endless stream of grown-up beverages. Venue details will be announced soon.
Tuesday, July 27
Everything Old Is New Again
Eric Meyer, author, CSS: The Definitive Guide, 3rd Ed.
Faux columns. Sliding doors. Image replacement. We rely on these techniques on a near-daily basis, but how will they be affected by the expanding vocabulary of CSS3? Will they be reworked, slimmed down, or abandoned altogether? An Event Apart cofounder and CSS mastermind Eric Meyer pulls some old standbys out of the toolbox and applies the capabilites of CSS3 to see how they can be made leaner, meaner, and more powerful.
Designing with patterns sounds like a great idea on the surface. But what does it really take to identify and write patterns? And just what do you do with them once they are created? Rounding out the pattern library with components and code can help prototyping and design move faster, leaving time to solve more challenging problems. This session will discuss the benefits of and issues that arise from designing with patterns, and show how to stay creative while doing so.
Designing for multichannel content delivery (mobile, anyone?) means an entirely new set of considerations and challenges for web professionals everywhere. Unfortunately for content creators, it’s nearly impossible to predict whether their writing will maintain impact and readability across each and every platform. But forget about the medium for a minute; it’s the message that matters most. We’ll learn how to identify your key business messages, how they inform your content strategy, and how they impact multi-channel content development and design.
A Dao of Flexibility
Ethan Marcotte, co-author, Handcrafted CSS and Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Edition
“The Way is shaped by use, but then the shape is lost.” Our sites are accessed by an increasing array of devices and browsers, and our users deserve a quality experience no matter how large (or small) their display. Are our designs ready? Explore sites that think beyond the desktop and have successfully adapted to their users’ habits. Ethan will also discuss how bring an extra level of craftsmanship to our page layouts, and revisit popular CSS techniques in this ever-changing environment.
Turns out that the fundamental principles that led to the success of the web will lead you there, too. Drawing on 15 years of web design and development experience, Jeff will take you on a guided tour of what makes things work on this amazing platform we’re all building together. You’ll learn how to stop selling ice, why web browsers work the way they do, and where Rupert Murdoch can put his business model.
Register through June 28 and save $100 off your conference pass. Hurry: tickets are first-come, first-served, and seating is limited.
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.
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.)
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.
It’s that time again. Spring and pheromones are in the air, and 11,000 web geeks are about to descend on beauteous Austin, TX for our industry’s version of the TED Conference plus Spring Break, SXSW Interactive.
Along with nearly all of Happy Cog, I’ll be there. Join us, won’t you?
Friday, March 12, at 3:30 PM, come to Battledecks 2010 in Room 18ABCD, where I’ll compete against the likes of Avery Edison, Ted Rheingold, Mike Monteiro, and SeoulBrother Number 1 Albert McMurry to see who can create the best impromptu presentation in response to random slides.
Saturday, March 13, at 5:00 PM, open your mind to New Publishing and Web Content, where I’ll explore the creative, strategic, and marketing challenges of print and web (and hybrid) book and magazine publishing with the brilliant Erin Kissane, Lisa Holton, Mandy Brown, and Paul Ford.
Also on Saturday, March 13, beginning around 10:00 PM, join the fine folks of Happy Cog and 700 screaming karaoke fans for the best official party of SXSW, Ok! Happy Cog’aoke 2, brought to you by Happy Cog and sponsored by these good folks.
If you can’t be with us at SXSW, please watch this space and my Twitter feed for photos, links, etc.
And if you aren’t attending and couldn’t care less about SXSW, you might want to unplug for the next six days, because the internets, they will be filthy with SXSW tweetage, bloggage, Flickrage, retweets, retumbling &c.
P Is for Publishing. And publishing, as you’ve heard, is dying. … But “the printed word will be around long after many of our digital creations are gone,” Zeldman says, “either because books don’t require monthly hosting and blogs and websites do … or because the languages and platforms for which a particular digital creation was published will become obsolete.”
…[Jason,] Mandy and I are about to launch a printed book series, called A Book Apart, which derives much of its thinking and some of its formatting from what we’ve learned about PDFs in the past 10 years,” says Zeldman. The Mandy he mentions is Mandy Brown, creative director of Etsy and former creative director at W.W. Norton & Co.; she’s also one of the people speaking on the New Publishing and Web Content panel that Zeldman’s organizing for this year’s Interactive Fest, along with Happy Cog’s Erin Kissane, Harper’s Magazine editor (and Harper’s website creator) Paul Ford, and Lisa Holton, founder of new-media company Fourth Story Media.
…Everyone on the panel is committed to the digital future,” Zeldman says. “But we are also all committed to the book.” And how will their—how will our—relationships to books change, and how will those relationships remain the same, as the digitization of printed matter proceeds faster than most chain saws can spin? “How,” asks Zeldman, “can we be truthful and wise as editors, publishers, writers, journalists, and marketers straddling this scary yet exhilarating new divide?
Dan Benjamin and yours truly discuss the secret history of blogging, transitioning from freelance to agency, the story behind the web standards movement, the launch of A Book Apart and its first title, HTML5 For Web Designers by Jeremy Keith, the trajectory of content management systems, managing the growth of a design business, and more in the inaugural episode of the Pipeline.