Brainstorms and Raves

Notes on Web Design, Development, Standards, Typography, Music, and More

Fri

10

AUG

2001

WebVisions: A Successful New Web Design Conference

[Taking Your Talent To the Web, by Jeffrey Zeldman]As I mentioned in my previous post, I attended Portland’s new WebVisions conference this past Tuesday evening, organized by Portland’s Multimedia Internet Developers Group. The keynote speaker was Jeffrey Zeldman, an important figure on the Web, with one of his roles being founder and major voice for the Web Standards Project (WaSP), and another being the author of the new book, Taking Your Talent To The Web.

I came away from this conference thinking about the magic of inspiration and creativity, feeling energized by all the enthusiasm and passion about the Web and design work. I witnessed so much sharing, support, encouragement, and appreciation for each other’s work - a very positive place.

When one is around innovative, creative people it can’t help but rub off.

In addition to Jeffrey Zeldman, the panelists included the amazingly talented Gabe Kean, founder and art director of Born Magazine and lead designer for Second Story Interactive, the incredibly creative Molly Sokolow of parisfrance and more, the photography genius Geoffrey Hiller, and the gifted and witty Heather Irwin, currently of AtomicPDX and of the well known ChickClick and more.

This first WebVisions conference chose The Northwest Cultural Center1 for its venue, full of charm and character, easily accommodating the speakers and the 300+ attendees. The organizers have had experience planning, presenting, and putting on events, so this first WebVisions certainly made attendees hope that this conference was truly just the first WebVisions rather than the only WebVisions. They all did a superb job, and if there were any glitches anywhere, only they would know. The conference went smoothly and was very well done. Hats off to them all!

After Hot Pepper’s Brad Smith welcomed everyone, Nick Finck, Digital-Web’s producer and A List Apart’s co-producer, introduced Jeffrey Zeldman. While Jeffrey centered his talk on web standards and building user friendly, accessible Web sites, he provided a fascinating, concise nutshell history of life before web standards, the enormous improvements, and future possibilities. We’ve come a long way, although we still have work to do.

"HTML, XML, CSS and the DOM are more than just a set of interesting technologies. They are a way of creating web pages that will enable the twin goals of sophisticated and appropriate presentation and widespread accessibility."
-- The Web Standards Project


A few other points that he made:

  • A workable interim plan: design for compliant browsers while still being readable in other browsers.
  • Bring content to the front of the site, keeping sites fresh and alive.
  • Excite visitors with content on the main page, with something new and engaging.
  • Be honest with your clients about the Web’s limitations, about browser limitations, and what’s realistic.
  • Consider the heart of the site (and create the site according to that).
  • Provide value. Define your content. Form a plan. Strategize.
  • Bandwidth issues will continue to be around for a long time. Keep them in mind with your designs.

Jeffrey Zeldman is a seasoned and comfortable speaker with whom the audience clearly is engaged and attentive. One can listen to him for hours on end not knowing that any time has passed at all. He’s open, friendly and warm, witty, and clearly relays that no questions are ever stupid or unimportant. He speaks at all levels, including beginners but providing fascinating information for experienced veterans alike—not an easy skill to so easily master and bridge as he does so effortlessly. If you have an opportunity to see him in person, I wholeheartedly recommend doing so, regardless of your skill level.

Following Jeffrey’s talk, each of the panelists gave delightful interactive presentations. The variety of topics was equally well thought out, from practical and inexpensive solutions to Fiori’s and Born Magazine’s incredibly innovative and wondrous galleries that push the cutting edge to Geoff Hiller’s thought-provoking and meaningful journey to Burma through photography. Each type of site and its implementation has its purpose and is beautifully done.

I came away from this conference thinking about the magic of inspiration and creativity, feeling energized by all the enthusiasm and passion about the Web and design work. I witnessed so much sharing, support, encouragement, and appreciation for each other’s work - a very positive place.

When one is around innovative, creative people it can’t help but rub off.

Resources:

Notes:
1. The hot day combined with no air conditioning available chased away a few attendees (for which the organizers certainly made note); however, for the most part it was only a small inconvenience.

Special Thanks:
I couldn’t possibly end this review without mentioning my special thanks and gratitude to Nick Finck for his gracious hospitality while I visited his beautiful city of Portland.

12:20 pm, pdt10 August, 2001 Comments, Trackbacks ·

Categories: Books, CSS, Design, Reviews, Standards, Web Biz

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