An Event Apart Seattle 2012

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We’ve been involved in the internet business long enough to know that one of the key differentiators between an agency that is good and another that is great is their ability to pull out and reinvest in education.  This past week we have been doing just that, attending The Art of Leadership in Vancouver on March 29, 2012 and An Event Apart Seattle from April 2-3, 2012.

Here are our top selections of the most important running themes from these conferences.

Good design serves its users

Jared Spool and Whitney Hess both reminded us that, as leaders in web design, development, and content strategy, we must always be considering and respecting the individuals on the other side of the solutions: the people who read our content, use our interfaces, and navigate the sites and experiences we build.  Jeffery Zeldman wisely stated, “Design that does not serve people, does not serve business”

New device innovations (tablets, smartphones, etc.) are the biggest changes to the web since its inception.

Most speakers, but especially Luke Wroblewski and Ethan Marcotte, stressed the magnitude of the global move away from a desktop-centric web.  The change impacts use (how people use the Internet and what they do on it), resources (how time and money are spent on these devices) and the practices that need to be adjusted to accommodate different needs and displays.

Strategic planning and implementation are the stepping-stones to success

Whitney Hess also spoke about how we need to spend 90% of our time identifying the problem and then the other 10% solving it.  Problem setting must precede problem solving.  Not only does this bring agreement but it also limits distractions and improves the quality of the end solution.

Smart design intuitively answers questions and displays what’s important

Kim Goodwin talked about how we need to engage with site users on a personal level in order to meet their needs online.  Focus on what they want – try to get a full picture of their expectations beyond their online experience.  Good design is supposed to be invisible – when it works no one notices, but when it doesn’t, everyone talks about it.


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