tech·an·ic \te-ˈka-nik\ n. Thoughts on technology from Josh Dick.

An Event Apart Boston 2013

My notes from An Event Apart, "the design conference for people who make websites".

An Event Apart SWAG

An Event Apart bills itself as "the design conference for people who make websites." I attended last year, and was very fortunate to be able to attend once again this year. Here are my notes in their entirety from An Event Apart Boston 2013. My notes are grouped by talk, in the order that each talk happened at the conference.

Day 1: 6/24/13

Jeffrey Zeldman - The Ten Commandments of Web Design (

Thou Shalt Entertain

Test Everything (Including Assumptions)

Thou Shalt Iterate

Thou Shalt Ship

Engage Thy Community

Love Thy User As Thyself

Remember The Content And Keep It Holy

Thou Shalt Make Magic

Thou Shalt Prioritize

To Thine Own Self Be True

This is design, not religion.

Jake Archibald - Rendering Without the Lumpy Bits (

Kevin M. Hoffman - Designing Meetings to Work for Design (

4 frameworks for better design meetings

  1. Always diverge before you try to converge.
    • Start the meeting with an opportunity for the discussion to expand, then arrive at a decision at the end.
  2. OARR: Outcomes, Agenda, Rules, Roles (David Sibbett)
    • Employ the four roles that make meetings productive:
      • Facilitator: Neutral, doesn't evaluate or contribute ideas, just manages the meeting.
      • Recorder: Creates group memory, records publicly, like on a whiteboard, is silent, and follows up afterwards.
      • Group member: Contributes ideas, stays positive, isn't defensive, checks/balances other members and the facilitator.
      • Leader: Designs the meeting, selects attendees and roles, decides upon goals, and becomes a group member during the meeting.
    • If you're not in charge of the meeting, the biggest way to affect it is public recording. Volunteer to do it, you'll help everyone in the room to be more productive and cut down on repeating themselves.
    • Distribute/take turns in each role so everyone gets an equal opportunity to contribute.
    • For small meetings, there's no need for all roles, but someone should still serve as a facilitator/recorder.
    • 3 questions of design: What has to stay the same? What can be changed? What can be eliminated?
    • Instead of discussing, have everyone write their feedback on color-coded, groupable stickies; you end up creating user requirements/user stories just by virtue of going through that process.
  3. Visual listening (via sketching) improves discussion and adds context.
    • Visual memory and recall are powerful.
    • Live-sketching a meeting could be useful; if you're less artistically inclined, sketching your thoughts beforehand is also useful.
  4. Present and design ideas collaboratively.
    • Do actual work in the meeting, don't just talk about work.
    • Example: When presenting personas, use something familiar like television characters rather than "generic" personas.
    • Example: For designing responsive content strategy, label every piece of content on the page. Split the content into groups, and let teams of people rate the priority of the cards inside each group. That way you have a mix of perspectives ranking the importance of a distributed variety of content elements.
    • Example: For designing interfaces, have small cross-disciplinary groups sketch as many concepts as they can. Then have groups repeatedly combine into larger groups and iterate on the design.

Luke Wroblewski - It’s a Write/Read (Mobile) Web (

How do we design for mobile creation?

One-handed Use

Visually Engaging

Focused Flows

Just-In-Time Actions

Cross Device Usage

Jason Grigsby - The Immobile Web (‎)

Ethan Marcotte - The Map & The Territory (

Day 2: 6/25/13

Karen McGrane - The Mobile Content Mandate (

Disruptive Innovation

In industry after industry...the new technologies that had brought the big, established companies to their knees weren’t better or more advanced—they were actually worse. The new products were low-end, dumb, shoddy, and in almost every way inferior. But the new products were usually cheaper and easier to use, and so people or companies who were not rich or sophisticated enough for the old ones started buying the new ones, and there were so many more of the regular people than there were of the rich, sophisticated people that the companies making the new products prospered.

The New Yorker, When Giants Fail

The Mobile-Only User

Content Strategy for Mobile

Know Your Workflow

Chunk Your Blobs

In Conclusion

Eric Meyer - Strong Layout Systems (

Viewport Units


Grid Layout

Regions and Shapes

Lea Verou - Deep CSS Secrets (

Interactive slides are available at

background-attachment: local;

Fixed Width, Fluid Background


Lined Paper/Zebra Striping Effect

Diamond-Outlined Images

Make Elements Trace a Circular Path

Non-Boxy Shadows

Glass Pane Effect

hyphens Property

Frame Animations

Kim Goodwin - Silo-Busting with Scenarios (@kimgoodwin)

Mike Monteiro - What Clients Don’t Know (and Why It’s Your Fault) (‎)

Jared Spool - It’s a Great Time To Be a UX Designer (


Interestingly, my takeaways are almost identical to last year's (mobile, mobile, mobile!):

As a bonus, I also concluded that bacon cupcakes actually exist, and are in fact delicious:

Bacon Cupcake

Just like last year, An Event Apart was extremely well-organized, informative and inspirational, and I'm very glad that I was able to attend!

Tags: designwebdev

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