As I was filling out a travel application form at work for An Event Apart Chicago, I still couldn’t believe that I was really going. I never posted that I was signed up either (here or in Japanese version of my blog or anywhere), probably to avoid disappointment in case something happened and I couldn’t go.
All my worries were wrong, and I actually got to go… and it was even better than I anticipated.
They covered a wide range of topics from hands-on session (with some code samples) to high-level inspirational/work ethic/life lesson-like talk. I enjoyed the variety and change in the pace. No session was very discussion-oriented (no panels. 5-10 minutes average Q&A time) but they were high-quality professional presentations (duh!).
The whole conference was interesting because it somehow “all made sense” in the end. Now, a few days after the event, everything they said on stage and conversations I had with other attendees are coming all together. If you are a front-end developer with interests in visual design like myself, I’m pretty sure you will find with all An Event Apart delivers. Even for others, I think an event like this can give you good understanding of what other members of development team are doing to make it all happen (which will help the whole team a great deal).
If I have to pick, my most favorite one was “Selling Design” by Jeffery Zeldman. Selling designs means understanding what’s the best for your clients, and knowing what it takes to make them agree with you. He talked about exactly how to make those happen. Design doesn’t mean just visual/cosmetic ‘design’. It’s everything from creative ideas, the architecture of the site, and other important decisions. As a front-end developer, it’s easy for me to get caught up in solving immediate technical challenges. Zeldman’s talk was a good reminder of how I should look at my work within a big picture.
Another one of my favorite session was “Best Practices For Form Design” by Luke Wroblewski. Luke said something like “I can talk about forms all day If you let me” – I seriously would love to hear that all day! 😀 Just as copy on the web is not paid enough attention, forms need a lot more attention than they get now. In real stores, you can make or break your impression by how you treat customers while receiving payment at register or collecting personal information (just chatting or asking for zip code). Placing a good form on your site is as important as having well-trained & friendly wait staff at a restaurant. During his presentation, Luke showed us great real-life examples of how we can achieve that.
I’m looking forward to his new book “Web Form Design Best Practices” – coming out early next year.
The success and quality of the event itself was a proof of that these guys (and ladies) know what they need to produce good results. I feel so lucky to have been able to experience it first hand.