This week I attended the In Control 2010 Web Design Workshop Conference. Orlando, Florida. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a two day web design geek session that you have to pay for to attend. An event that no one dare not pay attention. So, of course I was there sitting on the edge of my seat taking notes and drinking coffee. You see, the best thing about these conferences besides seeing new places, meeting new people, jumping on hotel beds and eating better than you would normally eat at home, is that you get all hyped about your profession again. I think this type of experience brings you back to the mindset that you were in at the beginning of your career. A time when you were happy to wake in the morning and go into work. I time when your lunch tasted better while eating at your desk. And most importantly, a time of peace in the work place.
The day started off at 7am with registration and breakfast. I had coffee and some fruit. Kelly Goto was first up to bat. I had seen her before at An Event Apart, San Francisco, so I knew what to expect. More than impressive, this woman speaks like a philosopher with phrases like “We’re not building interfaces anymore, we’re building experiences” and “Web 2.0 was designed to create a friendly environment”. She stressed the importance of designing for both practical and emotional experiences. I can go on and on about her Keynote Address, but I need to keep the non-geeks interested as well.
Next Christopher Schmitt on HTML 5! Say it with me… GEEK OUT! Not much of a public speaker, but this man is smart and knows his shit! Author of several books, including CSS Cookbook and Photoshop in 10 Simple Steps or Less, Schmitt is also a contributor to many web development magazines. He went on about how micro-formats are not good for screen readers and how screen readers read the title tag attribute instead of the content. More geek shit you may or may not be interested in.
Right before lunch, Stephanie Sullivan (bighting my fist), gave her presentation on CSS. This woman cannot be ignored. Beautiful and smart, she instantly stole the attention of the 90% male audience in a Florida second, which is pretty fast. It was like she was giving a workshop, oh wait, they’re ALL suppose to be workshops. I think I took the most notes on her. She started with simple things like the clear-left technique and vertical margin-collapse. She showed techniques including haslayout for ie specific troubleshooting and sessed on em’s and browser default text size mostly being 16px. Then she blew everybody’s mind with her mobile discussion. Wake up, laptops and desktops are short term. Mobile and hand held is the future. Time to start coding with them in mind.
Wrapping up day 1 was Ethan Marcotte. Again, the talent at this conference was amazing. Ethan got real technical on font sizing with em’s and fluid-layout techniques. He showed us the formula for converting pixels to em’s. Target ÷ Context = Result. So, if you were trying convert 20px font to em’s, you would divide 20px by the base font size of 16px, which is determined by the body font size, to get 1.5em. This cool little trick can even be used for div widths for fluid-layouts. Ethan’s the man when it comes to Fluid Media Design.
Day 1 ended with a Wrap-Up Panel, where attendees asked questions and free drinks were served at the bar. Later that night I found a little hole in the wall where a band was playing Bob Marley covers all night.
I’m gonna sum up day 2, because I didn’t realize I was going to rant and rave so much on day 1. Now, I’m not gonna lie. I was a little late to the first session because I was suffering from reggaemylitis. It was just the opening Keynote Address presented by Ted Murphy. Super cool guy full of energy but I really couldn’t wait to hear from Greg Rewis again. Skipping ahead… Greg, being from Adobe did a Web Workflow Workshop on, you guessed it, Dreamweaver CS4. I almost thought day 1’s workshop was better because he was kinda freestylin’ his presentation and he’s such a great public speaker. It makes a huge difference when they are so passionate about what they do.
After lunch, Shari Thurow did her workshop on Findability & SEO. This woman is a true SEO guru and despite what the buzz is on SEO, she WILL set you straight. She’s been doing it for 15 years, so she knows her shit pretty well.
Her 5 Rules of Web Design are:
- Easy to Read
- Easy to Navigate
- Easy to Find
- Consistent in Layout, Design and Labeling
- Quick to Download
nuf said about Shari!
Last but not least, Jared Spool, founder of User Interface Engineering, the largest usability research organization of its kind in the world, spent two hours talking about User Research and all their finding. This guy’s so funny, it was like watching stand-up comedy. Two things he really stressed. (1) Links should have “scent-descriptions”. Like a hound picking up a scent, so do users pick up a scent to find what they’re looking for. Once the scent has been lost, the user moves on to another source of information or they just get really frustrated. Remember what Kelly Goto said, “We’re not building interfaces anymore, we’re building experiences”. (2) The back button on the browser is the “Button of Doom”. If the user has to use the back button, you have failed them. He showed us examples of website’s that actually instructed the user to click the back button to go back to the search page after getting zero results on the search results page. what-huh? Bad design.
These conferences always inspire me to become the best User Interface Developer in the world. Maybe one day I will be giving speeches on Advanced HTML 5 and CSS3! Maybe one day I will be writing the book on User Centric Design. Until next time.