Finally My Notes from An Event Apart Chicago 2007

Finally got around to finishing up my post about the actual two days at the An Event Apart conference in Chicago on August 27 – 28, 2007. I had  a great time both at the conference and at the different gatherings each evening. I learned as much if not more at the evening events as I did during the day at the conference.

Please download all my notes, below is just an overview of some of the things I learned. The following is a summary of what happened by day ad speaker.

DAY – 1

The first speaker of the conference was Eric Meyer and his topic of discussion was “Secrets of a CSS Jedi“. He showed that you could use tables and CSS to create pages that end up displaying graphs. I had seen his earlier article about this and had worked on creating forms to allow you to enter the amounts and then put out the graphs. It is now time to work on this again, since Eric has changed the graphs from being pixel based to now be EMs based.

The next presenter was Jeffrey Zeldman and he talk3d about “Writing the User Interface“. His three big points were:

  1. Content is King.
  2. Design helps people read less.
  3. When people read less every word counts.

Next to speak was Jason Santa Maria on the topic of “Designing Your Way Out of a Paper Bag“. His main topics were:

  1. Branding.
  2. Layout.
  3. Hierarchy and focal Point.

Jason also recommended three different books during his talk.

  1. Thinking with Type” Ellen Lupton
  2. “Grid Systems (Raster Systeme)”
  3. Making and Breaking Grids“ – Timothy Samara

After Jason finished talking we had like an hour and a half  lunch break. The food was great and I ate way to much.

This made the first afternoon talk by Lou Rosenfeld (“Search Analytics for Fun and Profit“) a bit uncomfortable because I ate a great deal. Lou talked a lot about making sure you review your website search information to see what people are looking for and where they go once they have searched. You might be able to make a few changes to your website that will greatly improve peoples ability to find certain information. Here are a list of his points:

Querying you Queries and Getting Started

  1. Most frequent unique queries.
  2. Frequent queries retrieving quality results.
  3. Click through rates.
  4. Most frequently clicked results/query.
  5. Frequent queries with zero results.
  6. What are referrer pages for frequent queries.

You should look for what type of meta data people are looking for in their searches.

By typing “” into Google’s search box will give you search results from the website you put after the”site:“.

Next, Liz Danzico talked about “The Seven Lies of Information Architecture

  1. Navigation should be consistent between pages on a website give or take a little bit.
  2. Allow users may need to get to any part of the website at any given time or place.
  3. User experience must be seamless.
  4. Shorter is better.

Dan Cederholm – “Interface Design Juggling

He suggests starting with colors and use two colors or less. Meaning stay in the same color range just use different tones and hues. He sometimes just goes to Photoshop and starts dumping paint using the paint can.

Two add texture use noise filter.

Make sure you read “Web Design is 95% Typography“.

Get on mailing lists for type foundries.

  1. Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Dan was the final speaker for day 1.

DAY – 2

Jermey Keith – and

Presentation slides

Be Pure with how you write your code and do your work.

You need

  1. content
  2. structure
  3. presentation
  4. behavior
  5. HTML
  6. CSS

Be Vigilant and try not to put in extra stuff to your code or content.

To build an AJAX website first build a plain website and once working correctly then add in the AJAX.

Show where things were changed or updated when using AJAX. Look at 37 signals “Yellow Fade“.

Test early and test often.

Luke Wroblewski – “Best Practices for Form Design” – Yahoo

Why Forms Matter?

  1. They make money.
  2. Give access to communities.

Label Alignment depends on what you are doing.

  1. Top alignment is better for familiar data.
  2. Right alignment is better for more difficult data. It makes you think before answering the questions.
  3. Left alignment is better for unfamilar information.

Matteo Pemzo has a great article on “Eye Tracking Data“.

Group data on forms of like kinds together using fieldsets.

Take data user gives you and format it yourself. Only give error if completly incorrect.

Derek Featherstone – “Accessibility Lost in Translation” – Box of Chocolates and FutureAhead

Presentation slides

Create an accessible user experience.

Remember to use keyboard and mouse interaction.

Require fewer page refreshes.

Screen readers need “alt text”if there is none, it reads source attribute which can be very weird.

Size forms and everything in EMs to make it scale for even borders, padding, etc. this makes it better and does not break pages easily.

Submit button should be last in code order.

Eric Meyer – “The State of CSS in an IE7 World”

He talked about IE7 adding the followig items.

  • min-width, max-width, min-height, and max-height
  • Attribute selections
  • Child selector
  • :first child
  • Alpha channelin PNG images
  • they fixed FIXED Â

and  a whole lot of other things.

Jeffrey Zeldman- “Selling Design”

Jeffrey mentioned that you should have a process. Be calm and methodical.

Remind client each time you see them of what you talked about at the last meeting, phone call, or last week.

Learn to translate what they said into something you and they understand.

Sell design not pixels.

Last but not least was

Jim Coudal – “Dealing With the Both of You” –

He talked about

  • You need a cool flash of insperation for your projects or websites.
  • Learn quickly and be curious.
  • Value taste over everything else.
  • Work with others and have adult conversations.

He also showed three movies that he and his cmpany made.

  1. Copy Goes Here
  2. Regrets I Have a Few – Hobbies
  3. Subway – Ad Agency video

Please download all my notes, below is just an overview of some of the things I learned. Hopefully they are helpful to you and anyone else yu pass them on to.

Being Thankful with only 3 Days Left

I’m thankful for a lot o  things this year. Mostly that my mother is doing really well after her operation to remove as much of the ovarian cancer that the doctors could. I’m also thankful that the chemo is going really well. I talked with her just today and she sounds the best I’ve heard her in the last few months.

Enough about that, I mostly started writing this post to remind you that there are only three days left (11/26/2007) for you to place your order for the One Laptop per Child (OLPC).  At this time people in the United States and Canada can give one laptop to a child in an under privileged country and also get one for a child they know back here. This will cost you $400 for the two laptops.

I ordered my the first day back about ten days ago. Instead of going to Future of Web Design in New york City and staying a few days I went to visit my parents and used the money I was going to spend there on getting the OLPC. I still have not quite figured out what I am going to do with my laptop, since I have six nephews and two nieces. I figure I’m going to see what type of tutorials, websites, etc. I can build to use on them. Once that is done I will find it a good home for it.

So, please do what you can and get one or gather your friends together and each pitch in twenty, forty, or even fifty dollars so you can help others that is what Thanksgiving and the holiday season is really about.

Hola Neighbor Makes Washington Post

Last weekend (10/26/ – 10/28) I participated with about 50+ other people to make a web application called Hola Neighbor. We came up with an idea on Friday night and worked on it until midnight Sunday into Monday.

We had a photographer and writer from the Washington Post come down to take pictures and interview people.

The article will came out in the papers Business section on Monday morning. I happened look and see if the electronic version was available yet and it was. Please read the Washington Post article about Startup Weekend and the building of Hola Neighbor.

More to come later about my personal experience.