An Event Apart Boston

Justin Toupin

An Event Apart Boston came and went a week ago. The conference was amazing. Nine expert speakers presented on a range of topics from the conceptual to the practical. I’ve never been so happy to sit in one place for so long.

Some Highlights

Think Positive Negative

In his presentation Good vs Great Design, Cameron Moll pitched the idea that design should be problem-focussed, not solution-focussed.

Well put. We’ve spent many critique sessions backpedaling when a design isn’t working, retracing our steps invariably to the original goal, or problem. Now we have a mantra for times like these. Focus on the problem. Or, just like they didn’t tell us growing up, think negative.

Project Managers are Superstars

The conference was largely technical, devoting hours and hours to the methods of implementation. In all that, one point still couldn’t be missed: project managers are invaluable. No problem is truly understood, no goal established, and no solution designed without an effective project manager in the middle. And the middle isn’t always comfortable.

For Best Results, Over-think

Details can be tiny little pitfalls, inviting designer and client alike to pass on by. Not a good idea.

Jason Santa Maria summarized the point perfectly: “Sweat the Small Stuff.” That line was great validation for all times we’ve pulled together a meeting to discuss a font size, a color, the name of a class selector, or an approach to marking up a chunk of content.

Our Senior Designer Knows His Stuff

It’s nothing new, but very exciting all the same. The final session was a site-critique. We didn’t submit anything corporately, but our Senior Designer Ken Woodworth did submit a site he designed for a friend: www.parkviewbaptist.net

It's the first site that the panel critiqued. Needless to say, Ken was a little nervous.

Usability expert Steve Krug opened the critique by saying that he wasn’t planning on staying for the session, but that www.parkviewbaptist.net is the reason he did. He praised the site from a usability perspective. Eric Meyer complimented the (X)HTML/CSS implementation. Jeffrey Zeldman, Jason Santa Maria, Dan Cederholm, and Cameron Moll complimented the design.

It’s worth stating that amidst the compliments the panel offered some well-placed suggestions. Within a day Ken had followed up on all of them. You might say, ehem, he sweats the small stuff.


About the Author

Justin is CEO and founding partner at Aten. He started the company back in 2000 with a passion for technology and communications, a desire to do meaningful work, and an aspiration to help build a place where people love what they do.

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