An Event Apart Denver 2019, Denver, CO
The Day Before
I got into Denver after seven hours of travel, and it had been thirty-two years since I had been here. It was snowing, which I could have waited on but still I was traveling again. I got to do something I never thought I would ever do and that was attend the speaker meeting prior to the conference.
I got a huge bear hug from my new friend Jason Ogle, the man behind the User Defenders Podcast. One of my favorites, I highly suggest folks subscribe, listen, join the User Defenders community and become a patron on Patreon.
I got to meet Miriam Suzanne, whom has been doing videos for Mozilla Developers, along with Jen Simmons on YouTube for some time now and it was a plesant surprise to see her there!
I got to meet Sarah Drasner, and Phil Hawksworth whom work for Netlify. Which was also another pleasant surprise. I knew Sarah was a speaker there, but I did not know Netlify (as a sponsor) and Phil would be there. So I got some more laptop stickers and schwag from the Netlify table. Also a really nice Netlify t-shirt!
Probably one of, if not the most awesome experiences of the trip was the speaker dinner. Now if you do not know, the speakers usually set aside the night before for dinner for the group. Something I thought I'd never experience because I am not a speaker. Well, that all changed due, in part to Jason Pamental adding me as a +1 and I could not be more grateful to know Jason. An experience I will never forget and I had a phenomenal time. Talking with folks on the walk to the restaurant was the highlight of the day. Weary with travel, but excited being able to attend this event. Forever grateful.
Jeffrey Zeldman kicked it off with his talk on Slow Design for an Anxious World. I could listen to this talk over and over and over. Slowing the design down makes it more comprehensive for the reader. Slowing the design down so that readers can comprehend web pages and make better decisions. Learn to make layouts that help the user relax, sit back and enjoy the design, comprehension and engagement on a much less stressful level when web pages are either too slow or too fast.
Jason Pamental navigated the land of Variable Fonts and Typography and as always, a super treat, Tristan and Tillie, his collies, are in his slides. Love the dog pictures and tweets! His talk included how developments in the field of typography and variable fonts make it easier to create robust, scalable typographic systems on the web. Fantastic stuff, phenomenal talk by someone I am grateful to call a friend. You should, if you love typography, or even if you don't and want to learn about typography and variable fonts, subscribe to Jason's fantastic newsletter. It's well worth it!
Trent Walton spoke about the repercussions of using third parties when it comes to integrating such things as a commenting system or online fonts. How much can a website weigh without you knowing it and who is tracking us? Trent also took us through tools he uses and methods to see what a site is doing behind the scenes and reasons why to use apps like Ghostery. This always made me think a lot more when I first heard Trent's talk in Boston about all the bloat that comes with different third-party systems. Great refresher and the artwork from Trent's son was top notch!
Even Trent's son, Charlie helped out with some of the slides. Of which were excellently done!
Eric Meyer came up after lunch and talked about generated content. Pullquotes, blockquotes, gradients,
::after. Lots of great stuff, some M*A*S*H theme music, and lots of CSS! Even an Under Construction redux using CSS. Those need to come back into style. Literally. Eric also spoke about what is good generated content, what can we do with it? How far can we push it? So much to think about when dealing with generated content.
Rachel Andrew followed with her "Making Things Better: Redefining the Technical Possibilities of CSS" talk. Flexbox, CSS Grid, Subgrid, some great looks at some of the current and future technical possibilities for developers and designers for creating things on the web. Multicol, Scroll snap, Subgrid. All things I am excited to implement. Page Layout was even mentioned and I didn't even remember that from her Boston talk. Rachel is one of a few when it comes to CSS and Grid Layout, who I consider the gold standards from learning from the other being the next speaker I'll be talking about below. Jen Simmons.
Jen Simmons wrapped up the day of speakers with her phenomenal talk about Designing Intrinsic Layouts. Creating accessible, reusable and component layouts. The art of graphic design and how we can now do things on the web we only could dream about years prior. How to do a header real easy and simple in Grid and Flex. Jen always brings the good stuff with so many creative examples of her experiments on her own site as well. Jen's examples of layouts that are done in comparison to some of the things found in graphic arts posters and magazines is simply amazing.
The User Defenders Podcast
Jason Ogle came to the stage with three speakers to do a live show of his User Defenders podcast. Joined by Mina Markham, Farai Madzima, and Derek Featherstone, they traversed many subjects in the hour such as inclusion, accessibility, and ethics. It was a pleasure and privilege to be there and to have helped out in a small way by recording video of the podcast. Terrific episode!
I was able to help out and film video with my new iPhone 11 Pro Max in 4k, so I am anxious to see the video after all the editing is done and see how it came out. I was more than happy to have been able to help out Jason, who I consider now a good friend. If you're not subscribed to the User Defenders podcast, you are missing out! Go subscribe today!
The dinner after with Jason Ogle, Jason Pamental, Derek Featherstone and Eric Meyer was at a place that was referred to me by a friend, the name of the place, iRamen+Fish. It was terrific. A lot of good food and great conversation. I had a great time. A definite highlight of the trip as well. I was glad they all came along for dinner with me.
A fantastic kickoff to the conference! I don't think it could have gotten any better than this. Dinner with some of the best people I have had the privilege to meet and get to know over the years. Every time I am at a conference with these folks I learn something new and have a good time doing so.
That was the end of Day One. A day of learning, of friendship and of good food. On to Day Two!