WebVisions in Portland

I made the trip to Portland, Oregon today to attend the WebVisions conference that starts tomorrow. This is the first time I've been to Portland and so far it seems like a nice enough place. The conference is a bit unique in that its a combination of workshops and speaker sessions.

I've attended many conferences over the years - SXSW, An Event Apart, Web Design World, Webmaster Jam Session - and they're all really good. An Event Apart in San Francisco last year was particularly good, but I thought it would be a good idea to try something different this year. I chose WebVisions this year because of the workshops they offered in addition to speaker sessions.

I'll be attending two workshops tomorrow: Good Design Faster, by Leah Buley and Designing for Content-Rich Sites, by Jared Spool. I've heard Jared speak before and he's excellent and I've heard good things about Leah, so hopefully tomorrow will be a super informative, educational day.

Here's a sample of sessions I'm thinking of attending later in the week:

  • Interaction Design in the Designer's Hands - Ryan Stewart
  • Bringing Design to Life: What Every Designer Should Know About Interface Engineering - Bill Scott
  • All Together Now: Aligning the UX Behind Your UI - Melissa Casburn
  • How To Win Projects and Influence Budgets - Daniel Schutzsmith
  • Process Meets Presentation: Visual Interaction Design - Jina Bolton

I'm hoping to post some notes and thoughts about some of the sessions here later in the week.

An Event Apart - San Francisco

When I was younger, thinking about San Francisco conjured up images of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice playing in Candlestick Park. Oh, and earthquakes. Growing up in Texas (Cowboys Fan), that was my narrow view of that storied city.

Nowadays, when I think of San Francisco I think of Apple, .com companies and Monk. I've never been to San Francisco, so even as an adult, my view tends to be a bit narrow. I suppose much in the same way that folks who have never been to Texas think we all wear cowboy boots and live on ranches with our pet longhorn steers.

Tomorrow, all that will change as we get to visit San Francisco for the first time. I'll be attending An Event Apart, a Conference for People Who Make Websites. It will be a family trip/vacation and we will spend the weekend taking in the sites and sounds of San Francisco before the conference begins on Monday. We'll plan on spending the remainder of the week hanging out with our good friends that live in the burbs.

I'm looking forward to some down time away from work, but I'm especially stoked about attending the conference. All my online heroes will be there - Zeldman, Meyer, and Cederholm among others.

So if you've attended an AEA Event in the past and have any tips for getting the most out of my time there, pass them along. Likewise, if you have any recommendations for "must see" things to do while we're in San Francisco, do the same.

But whatever you do, don't bring up The Catch.

CSS Fluency

On Saturday, I had the privilege of speaking to the DFW Adobe Users Group (DFWAUG) about CSS and modern, standards-based web design. After several weeks of mounting anxiety about my first public speaking venture, I nervously delivered a presentation entitled CSS Fluency: Speaking the Language of Cascading Style Sheets. The premise behind CSS Fluency is simple. In the programming world, there’s a common axiom, “If you can describe it, I can program it.” Although not a programming language, the same can be said for CSS. If you can learn to speak the syntax using natural language to describe style rules, then you’ve begun the journey of mastering CSS.

Much to my surprise, the talk was well-received and it seemed that everyone in the room learned something new, particularly me. The members of DFWAUG are a warm, friendly bunch of people, which really helped put me at ease and we ended up having a great conversation about CSS and web design. I’d like to thank everyone at DFWAUG for having me there on Saturday and for being a great audience and asking a lot of relevant and intelligent questions.

You can download a PDF version of the presentation although it may or may not be useful unless you were at the meeting. The example page for demonstrating the CSS techniques is also available.

Overheard at Webmaster Jam Session 2007

Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend the 2007 Webmaster Jam Session. I enjoyed the experience of learning from some great speakers, meeting some new friends and hanging out with old friends and new co-workers. I haven't had the mental bandwidth to sit down and comprehensively write down everything I learned and how it will shape my future. But I did take a few notes and thought it'd be good to share something, so I put together a list of "one-liners" from my notes of a few of the sessions I attended. These really aren't in any particular order - more of a mind dump, if you will.

Successful interface design ...
integrates the user and the business
is invisible
is multi-disciplined
is cultural
- Jared Spool

The internet is smarter than you are. - Brian Oberkirch

Flat is boring. - Dan Rubin/Bryan Veloso

Change what you do everything 3 years. It keeps you intelligent, funny and relevant. - Michael Lopp

Make all visual distinctions as subtle as possible, but still clear and effective. - Tufte's "Smallest Effective Difference" Principle, quoted several times by different speakers.

The funniest thing for me was when I was thinking to myself why they call it the "Webmaster Jam Session". I mean, do people call themselves webmasters anymore? Not 5 minutes after I thought this did a guy stood up and introduced himself: "Hi, I'm ________________, I'm the Webmaster for Rockwall ISD." Who knew?

If I had a good camera or had a clue how to take good photographs, I'd post a bunch of them here. But I don't and I didn't. However, you might like to check out some photos snapped of the event here, here and here.