I’m amazed the degree to which Web Directions North has exceeded my expectations. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned my high expectations but the people, atmosphere, and inspiring talks really blew me away.
Having talked to a lot of web professionals attending the conference, I’ve gathered that this conference was about positive reinforcement above all else. A lot of attendees were freelance or in small teams (as I am), so it was really nice to hear the experts confirm that we’re doing things right for the most part.
I’ve compiled a short list of the most prominent things I picked up at the conference:
- CSS3 features (like attribute selectors) are worth implementing now in many cases and there are tools to make it work in IE6 and below.
- There are clever ways to maintain semantic markup using DOM scripting to keep presentation-only markup out of the source document.
- In Ajax implementations, the browser should remain a thin client and the bulk of the processing should be done on the server side.
- While practicing progressive enhancement (or “Hijax”), it is important to plan for likely future enhancements. E.g. building a modular application to ease Ajax enhancement.
- Microformats have a ton of potential and are here to stay.
- Technorati already has some really cool tools to take advantage of Microformats like the Microformat search and the hCard to vCard converter.
- Evoking user emotion is strongly related to creating passionate users. You can have a great product, but if it doesn’t provoke an emotional reaction from the user, they likely won’t buy it. Think Apple iPhone.
- Flickr is a great application that I should be using.
- Templating systems have limitations but are still better to adopt than to have none at all.
- Setting restrictions on the number of revisions to a design is a good idea to maintain a healthy relationship with demanding clients.
- Jared Spool is an incredibly entertaining speaker and the perfect closing act.
- Some people “just get” user experience design, others can be taught but not easily. Similar to the way an apprentice learns from a sushi chef.
- Those California kids from Media Temple know how to throw a closing party.
I had the opportunity to have a drink (or a few) with lots of interesting people at the conference. Here’s a list of those folks I collected business cards from:
- Klaus Komenda
- Jonathan Eckmier
- Jonathan Snook
- Ian Bothwell
- Jay West
- David Moulton
- Bob Duncan
- Noel Jackson
- David Storey
- Spencer Tickner
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I used to be a full-time employee, then I went freelance, and now I run a successful product company. I've learned a lot along that path and will share failures and successes with you via email.
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