Web Directions North Wrapup

ActiveState at Web Directions NorthI’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:

ActiveState is hiring a new web developer. Chad and I will be doing most of the interviewing, so if you met one of us last week and are interested in the job opportunity, let us know.