I just returned from An Event Apart Boston, a web design and development conference held at Boston Marriott Copley Place. The conference is held in multiple locations throughout the U.S. and each conference is slightly different.
The first day was packed with talks, a lot of small breaks with yummy treats, and full of excitement. All the speakers were energetic and engaging. My favorite talk was Icon Design Process by Jon Hicks, creator of the Firefox, MailChimp, and Shopify logos and author of The Icon Handbook. In his talk, he reiterated icons are more than just pretty decorative graphics for sites and applications, they are little miracle workers. They summarize and explain actions, provide direction, offer feedback, and even break through language barriers. As an illustrator and UX designer, I was particularly excited about the power of choosing right icons for the right metaphor and achieving visual balance.
The second day was similar to the first day. Couple of more memorable talks were CSS Grid Layout by Rachel Andrew and Kate Kiefer Lee’s Touchy Subjects: Creating Content for Sensitive Situations. I was intrigued about the possibilities for using CSS Grid Layout and interested in seeing it implemented across all browsers. But my fellow attendee, a front end developer also from Quicken Loans, was less than enthusiastic.
Katie’s talk resonated with what I do at Quicken Loans well. Buying a house or refinance can be a very personal and sometimes sensitive experience. It often is the biggest purchases in one’s life. Our clients are human. Creating a fully online mortgage experience eliminates human interactions. We don’t know what’s going on in client’s lives, so we don’t always create experiences with their feelings in mind. Certain topics are likely to make them feel uncomfortable or frustrated. Providing content that anticipates the client’s emotional state and from a place of empathy is important.
My last day was a full-day workshop with Brad Frost, Everything You Wanted to Know About Responsive Design…And Less! He took a deep dive into the world of responsive web design, covering subjects including broad concepts, strategy, how responsive design affects process, responsive design patterns and principles, and so on. In this workshop, he also talked about his well-known methodology, Atomic Design. However, I was disappointed in this workshop since he used almost identical presentation from another talk I saw him in about an year ago.
Finally, if you’re a history buff, there is no end to the historical sites in one of the oldest cities in America. Not only is Boston strong, it’s also beautiful, culturally and historically. I enjoyed strolling through the beautiful streets in Beacon Hill filled with lovely turn of the century red brick buildings and having delectable meals at one of the local eateries comprised of fresh clam chowder, lobster rolls, and bisque. I definitely will come back and visit in the future to know the city on a more intimate level.