Category Archives: Travel

Hilton Lobby

At An Event Apart – Austin 2013, Kristina Halvorson shared her thoughts on content strategy for the web. Here are my take-aways from the talk.

  • Create consistency in your content
  • Create cohesiveness in your content
  • The content is not for us, it’s for the audience
  • The story informs the format – think content first. My interpretation – The content informs the design
  • Move fast and break things
  • Activity doesn’t always equal productivity
  • Having a strategy keeps us accountable.


  • A content life cycle consists of: strategy → plan → create → maintain → audit
  • Process is not your god… it’s OK to break the rules


  • In each project, think RACI
  • R – who is responsible?
  • A – who is accountable?
  • C – who is consulted for sign off?
  • I – who is kept informed?


At An Event Apart – Austin 2013, Samantha Warren shared about her new idea: Style Tiles. Here are my take-aways:

  • Design is art without clients – and in-house designers still have clients
  • Creating 3 fixed-width pixel-perfect Photoshop comps encourages ‘Frankencomps’ – where client will request pieces of each to be put together to make a new comp.
    • There is a better way to go about this, and it is ‘Style Tiles’
  • Mood boards are too vague for clients to understand, although they are good for certain parts of the process
  • Style Tiles
    • Gives client an essence or feel for the website – fonts/colors/etc
    • Allows for designing a system, not pages
    • Separates style from substance (content)
    • Are device width agnostic
    • Will facilitate a conversation around responsive design projects
    • Should come before a more refined mockup of pages
    • Allow for quicker iteration
    • Sets you up for creating a full component library – full of all possible design components on website
  • Design Process:
    • Listen
      • Ask questions, get answers then setup kickoff meeting to get alignment on answers from all people on client end
      • Ask what their 3 user goals are and 3 business goals are
      • Ask ‘Why?” throughout
      • Ask metaphor questions like, “If your brand were a ____, it would be a _________ and why?
      • Ask degree questions like, “on scale of 1-5 how strongly do you feel your website should be______ (illustrative/etc)”.
    • Interpret
      • Identify common themes
      • Get agreement on adjectives
      • Begin pairing adjectives with design principles of line, shape, color, texture, space and form
    • Define Visual Language
    • Iterate
      • Easier to do with style tiles
    • Deliver a System
      • System would include the style tile, component library (how all possible aspects of website will look, like, headings, lists, links, etc), and full comps
  • When someone says that designers JUST make things look pretty, a kitten dies!
  • Design a better process!


An Event Apart

I was lucky enough to attend my very first web design conference this week. It was amazingly inspiring and gave me a lot of things to think about – mostly a lot of things I need to do better at in my work. It was great to be in a room full of 400-500 other folks with the same mindset, skill set and goals as me. It was also great to hear talks by some of the people I’ve been learning from for many years – through their blogs and books.

I’ll be sharing my take-aways from each of the speakers. One blog post at a time. First Up – Jeffrey Zeldman.

At An Event Apart – Austin 2013, The Godfather of Web Design – Jeffrey Zeldman – shared his 10 commandments of web design. Below I’ve shared them and how I interpret each.

Thou shalt entertain

My interpretation: Stop focusing on ‘techy’ details and make your websites fun and playful – through conversational content.

Test everything

My interpretation: Always test your websites as well as testing your basic assumptions about how you create those websites (things like ALT tag usage, etc)

Thou shalt iterate

My interpretation: Never stop tweaking, revising and making your websites better, but always ‘ship’ your ‘minimal viable product’.

Thou shalt ship – “If you can’t delegate at the pixel level, you’ll never ship”

My interpretation: Do your work efficiently and get it out in the public and then go back to #3

Engage thy community

My interpretation: Think about using more ‘social’ features with blog comments, like Disqus, and embeddable comments

Love they user as thy self

My interpretation: Create the website you want to see and use – make it responsive – aka device agnostic – and put the most useful content on top of the website

Remember content and keep it holy

My interpretation: content comes first and navigation is second, use larger text for relaxing experience and remove extraneous design bits.

Thou shalt make magic – not perfection

My interpretation: Make your websites magical, but that doesn’t mean making it perfect. Focus on previous commandments and ship the minimal viable product. Think Instagram, it was ‘magical’ but not perfect at first – because it didn’t allow for sharing, commenting or even have a website presence, only app presence.

Thou shalt prioritize

My interpretation: Do most important thing first (obviously) and think about using Github ‘issues’ feature to help prioritize.

To thine own self be true

My interpretation: Focus on what you are great at.

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The AIGA trip to Chicago was amazing. And not because there were 6 guys and 19 girls on the trip. Because I realized that I loved the atmosphere and the work environment that the design firm had, that we visited. I definitely want to live there sometime before I settle down.

Here’s what trip was like.
We left on Thursday night. I rode with Jessica, Schuyler and Julia. We stayed at Julia’s parents house for Thursday night. Jessica and I realized how crazy senior VisComm majors really are. Schuyler just kept screaming “Chicago 2006”.

Friday moring we headed to the city to check into the hotel and visit The Grillo Group. It’s a design firm of 3-4 designers and they do some awesome stuff. They went through a normal day for them and showed us some of their work. They also took a lot of our questions.

After visiting The Grillo Group we walked to the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was pretty awesome, but I think The Art Institute is much better. We went to the Art Institute on Saturday and then headed home.

At Giordanno’s for dinner

Jessica and I at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Art Institute of Chicago

Julia, Me, Jessica, someone, and someone else (two freshman who I don’t know the names of)

Jessica and I outside of Chipotle