An Event Apart: a great conference on web design trends
I have been attending An Event Apart Conferences since 2008.
I look forward to these yearly gatherings because the speakers are all industry leaders with years of experience and insight into the world of Web Design and Development.
It was at this conference that I first learned about “Mobile First” and the importance of Accessibility. Every year they invite speakers that share their insights on where the Web is heading. This year was no different.
Top 10 Takeaways from the 2018 edition
The overarching theme was humanity, which we all could use a little more of these days.
It’s so easy to forget that there is a human being using the website you build, but that doesn’t mean you should.
Beyond Engagement: The Content Performance Quotient
Jeffrey Zeldman introduced a new metric for tracking how well websites are performing. He calls this Content Performance Quotient (CPQ).
CPQ is a measurement of how quickly you can solve the user’s problem. The shortest distance between problem and solution. The time it takes your user to get the information they came for. If analytics show that a user is on your site for 30 minutes, is that 30 minutes of frustration because they cannot find what they need?
Digital Marketing Strategies for the Busy “Web Master”
Sarah Parmenter gave a really great talk on Digital Marketing Strategies. Believe it or not, we are in the first 10,000 days of web and first 3,000 days of social media. A third of the jobs that will exist in 2020 haven’t been invented yet. In Social Media, we need to get in the “how can I help you” mindset. We should ask ourselves: “What can I do for you?” and not “Look at what I’ve got” We are still shouting at people. Away is a good example of a company that has it right. It’s all about storytelling.
Everything you know about Web Design has just changed and Instrinsic Web Design is coming
Jen Simmons talked about the new CSS Grid. The CSS Grid will give more alternative page layouts for designers.
Simmons also gave a brief history of Web design.
After tables for layout, Flash, Semantic Markup, fluid layouts, responsive layouts, everything is going to change again with Intrinsic Web Design as Peter Anglea hints it in this YouTube video.
The Way of the Web
We must weigh the cost of using developer tools vs. the impact on the end user. Is it worth a large download? Websites can be built with HTML and CSS, and that will never change. Try the rule of least power, first.
Performance as User Experience
Aaron Gustafson talked about the need to be concerned about our web performance.
The speed of the website is the second most important factor ranked just behind easy navigation.
How important is web speed? Just know that a 1-second download delay can cost Amazon six billion dollars. In other words, performance matters. A lot.
Every choice we make affects our users’ experience. Think carefully about the tradeoffs between design and performance. Think of your users. For them, a fast experience is a great experience.
Mobile in the Future
Luke Wroblewski, the author of Mobile First, said mobile is growing as fast as there are humans on the planet. News apps like Facebook used to take 852 days to reach 10 million people and now an app like Super Mario Run can reach 10 million in just one day.
Did you know that people unlock their devices every 12 minutes on average? That’s like 80 times per day.
More than half these mobile sessions last for 30 seconds or less. The most annoying thing for the user is waiting for stuff to load. So, it’s paramount that developers create apps that are fast and easy to use.
Designing Progressive Web Apps
Jason Grigsby talked about Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) as the next big thing.
They are truly changing the way we use the web today. Push notifications, offline web pages, and super fast loading times are just a few of the great features used to build PWA’s. Some examples include Washington Post, Twitter, and Lyft.
Use Your Words
Kristina Halvorson reminded us it is important to bring the writer/content strategist into any web project early on in the project, not after the wireframes and design have been completed. When writing, keep in mind the following:
Inclusivity – Who needs your content?
Intent – Understand top tasks.
Meaning – Hone in on substance.
Context – Where are they in this journey?
Constraints – What you can’t change (legal and branding jargon).
Inclusive UX: Techniques for everyone
Derek Featherstone is an authority on accessibility and web development.
Accessibility is an outcome. Inclusive design is a process.
Inclusive UX design is the intentional facilitation and crafting of the interactions within an ecosystem that incorporates inclusion as a core value. He talked about techniques for teams, designers and developers. Inclusion needs to be part of the core design.
Designing an Intuitive Navigation
Gerry McGovern explain that to design an intuitive navigation system you need to pay attention ro the following:
- Fidelity – A link is a promise. If you say it’s easy to apply then it needs to be.
- Forward Momentum – Help move user forward in the website by stripping away everything that is not connected to the task at hand. Amazon is a good example of this.
- Unity – Make the navigation as unified as possible.
- Clarity – Words you use are important. Avoid icons. Avoid FAQs (in fact, most of the speakers said to avoid FAQs on websites)
- Twins – Think of the two dominant journeys: object and subject. If you need help with your iPhone, you can either try to go to the iPhone section then select support or you can get the support page and search iPhone from there.
- Minimalism – The closer you get to the topic/destination, the less navigation you should have. Focus on what really matters.
- Magnetism – Measure navigation on two characteristics:
is it working for what it’s supposed to work or are people clicking on it when they shouldn’t? Always try to measure positive and negative magnetism of a given piece of navigation.
What about Higher Ed Websites?
Web design and development trends presented at conferences like an Event Apart are key to get ready for the future of the Web.
Today in higher education, we also need to face very specific web challenges. And, this is why the 2018 Higher Ed WEBSITES Conference (June 13) focuses 100% on higher ed websites.
The 2018 edition of this new online conference will feature 12 speakers working in universities and colleges in the US, Canada and Australia.
Meet the Author: Lansing Bryan
Lansing Bryan is the Web Communications Specialist at Green River College. She is also a graduate of 2 Higher Ed Experts’ professional certificate programs in Social Media Marketing and Web Analytics.