Last week, I had the pleasure of attending An Event Apart DC with web designers from all over the country. Over the next two weeks, I thought I would do a recap and give some sound-bytes of the information that was shared by some of the leaders in our industry.
Understand Web Design – Jeffrey Zeldman (@zeldman)
One overarching theme in Jeffrey Zeldman’s presentation was that we need to be web design ambassadors. Many people don’t understand what we do, and it is only by educating them that we can do excellent work that inspires people.
The second theme, and a theme that repeated throughout the conference, was that what we do is for the user – and should be people focused.
“Anything that interferes with the user getting their job done is bad. Approach work from a user centered POV.”
“What we do is for people. Make sure they have a good experience.”
One of the most significant quotes for me, was “Web design is like type design, in that web design is a medium for someone else’s self expression.” This really hits home that we need to embrace the fact that we can’t control every part of the experience. Ultimately, we must guide the user and deliver the best experience we can, but the user is in the driver seat.
“Great design is never passive. It only looks that way.”
“Don’t wait to be invited to your own profession. Be proactive.”
The Integral Designer: Developing You – Whitney Hess (@whitneyhess)
Whitney Hess talked about social and emotional intelligence.
“In most workplaces, we focus more on intellectual contributions rather than emotional or physical health, at a cost.”
She talked about the importance of stopping to take a breath, and the difference it will make in your life.
One particular moment that stuck out was when she encouraged everyone to purge their past – throwing out old work to promote adaptability. She says that “if it’s a good idea for that situation, you’ll think of it again.” And she’s right.
Putting the Fonts into Webfonts – Jonathan Hoefler (@HoeflerCo)
Jonathan Hoefler’s talk particularly inspired me as a designer. He illustrated the detailed process that goes in to optimizing a font for screen, and why we should consider webfonts when designing on screen. He likened designing for screen to designing for the print in that you have to adjust for the medium.
For the newspaper, he once created a font with a special weight for a paper in a high humidity area because it would bleed more. With the modifications, in matched the way it printed in the low humidity area.
The same is true of modifying so that I font looks right on screen – simple pixel modifications make it clearer and easier to read.
Jonathan Hoefler is trying to bring all the nuances of typefaces back to the web. He compared a dictionary to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is more information dense, but all the typographic indicators that a dictionary uses have been lost, because we don’t have the depth and breadth of characters available to exemplify it.
After hearing Hoefler speak, I think we should be proud of the details that our design leaders take into account in their processes.
Screen Time – Luke Wroblewski (@lukew)
Luke Wroblewski talked about how screen size has become incredibly diverse. With the screen as our medium, we as designers, need to know how to deal with it. But not every screen size is the same, so he encouraged us to focus on what the most common and effective sizes are.
In this case, medium size smart phones are the leaders of the pack. They have a higher use rate, as well as a higher conversion rate. Mobile first is indeed alive and well.
He also encourages us to look at design and load time, as screens are getting increasingly higher in resolution.
“The 1st step in our impending retinapocalypse is realizing that maybe every site doesn’t need a full-bleed background image.”
He also championed the death of the fold – that the fold to web is no longer a relevant factor, and yet we continue to be restrained by it.
The fold is “the feudal lord that rules in tyranny. Thou shalt obeyeth the fold.”
Wroblewski left us with the introduction of wearables, and whether or not they will complement or disrupt smart phone and tablet use, which are currently the leaders of the pack in digital devices.
Mind the Gap: Designing in the Space Between Devices – Josh Clark (@globalmoxie)
Josh Clark spoke about seamless use of websites cross-device. He told us that 2/3 of people start shopping on one device and finish the transaction on another.
He challenged us to link physical interaction with our interactive processes.
“When I put my iPhone on my iPad they just ignore each other! How rude! Antisocial…”
A good example is listening to your music on an iPod, then tapping it on your screen to transfer the music to be playing on your computer.
“There is magic in the gap between devices.”
Don’t try to recreate old products with new innovation. “Never ever ever try to out-mouse the mouse.” Find a way to do new things with new technology.
Clark used Teddy Ruxpin as an example of what social devices used to be – it talked TO you, but didn’t interact WITH you. The new Teddy Ruxpin is Toymail – a device that actually reacts to you and grows with you in a social way.
His final warning was that as our every day objects become interactive, there is the danger of our everyday lives being “hacked” – anything that can be hacked, will be hacked.
In the last year, as many of you out there may have noticed, we’ve expanded our offerings to include web design and development. But what many of you may not know, is the in order to do so, I’ve enlisted the help of someone who supports me in a myriad of ways – my husband, Ryan Jensen, who happens to be a web developer.
When people find out a designer married a web developer, they always comment on how convenient it must be. In many ways, it is great – he partners with me to make sure your websites not only look the way they are designed, but also to make sure they work the way they were intended. I do the initial design, he does the coding and then I often jump back in to work with the content.
We’ve met some interesting clients along the way, and I’d love to share those collaborations with you here.
Bree Ryback of Capitol Romance came to us for a revamp of her off-beat wedding blog. For her site, we started with a template, and made a variety of modifications, including the addition of a slider and a vendor guide. Bree’s site is fully responsive. Visit Capitol Romance here.
Lisa Colozza Cocca
Lisa Colozza Cocca came to us for a website prior to the launch of her first Young Adult Novel, Providence. Lisa’s site was designed and built from scratch. As with many of my clients, due to distance, all discussion was done virtually. At the end of the project, Lisa afforded me a wonderful testimonial – “The most common [comment] from people I know well is “It’s so you.” That is quite a compliment to you, since we have never even met.” Visit Lisa Colozza Cocca here.
Gordon & Alpert
Gordon & Alpert is a start-up risk management strategic research firm. After a rocky start with their first web designer/developer, they came to Stacy Kleber Design, LLC to start over. We’ve created not only their website, but their brochure and business cards as well. Aside from the logo, which they created, we were able to define the look and feel of their brand. Visit Gordon & Alpert here.
I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to Jensen I Do. Jensen I Do is a new venture by Stacy Kleber Design, LLC that hopes to offer affordable, customizable wedding invitations to the DIY bride on a budget.
You might ask, how does this work? Well it starts with choosing a template, and sending in your wording. Currently, there are seven templates available, all of which can be customized in both text and color. Keep an eye out, as designs will be updated all the time. All designs are in standard sizes for easy printing.
In 3-5 days after you place your order, you will receive a first proof of your design as a pdf. You will have 7 days to review it and send back any corrections. Two rounds of revisions are included in every order, at which point the design will be considered final.
When we deliver your final file, it will be a high resolution pdf with crop marks and .125″ bleed. You can then choose to send it to an online printer, print at a copy shop or print on your home computer.
In addition to templates, Jensen I Do also offers fully custom invitation printables.
So please, take a moment to check out our new website, Jensen I Do. Use the offer code “suite10” to get $10 off your order of $70+.
Many of you out there might wonder, “Why should I spend the time to redesign my site? This website my niece/nephew designed and coded for me in 1999 still works, and websites are expensive!”
Think of it this way. Would you go in to that job interview in a wrinkled suit, with no resumé?
Your website is, for many customers, the first impression they have of your business. Your website doesn’t necessarily need all the latest bells and whistles, but it does need to look current and professional. After all, this is what the customer is basing their decision to contact you on.
If your website is hard to navigate, the customer may give up before they find your contact information. If it is dated and sloppy, the customer may perceive the business as out of touch, and move on to a more polished competitor. Every customer that leaves the site without a purchase has a cost for you and your business – a cost in the long run that goes way beyond the cost of a refresh.
I’ll leave you with a few keys to a good website design:
Easy to use across platforms (from mobile to tablet to desktop).
Fast load time.
Memorable url that makes sense for your business.