Join us for An Event Apart Chicago

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The design conference for people who make websites.

An Event Apart Chicago is an intensely educational learning session for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. If you care about code as well as content, usability as well as design, An Event Apart is the conference you’ve been waiting for. Join us for twelve great speakers and sessions, plus an optional day-long workshop on mobile design with Luke Wroblewski.

Seating is limited — Register Now!

Show Extended Schedule

Arrival Day:

  1. Early Registration

    Avoid the check-in line Monday morning by checking in Sunday night in the Grand Ballroom Foyer. We will be fully staffed to get you checked in for the event and to answer any event questions you might have. Be the first to get all the goodies and breeze into the ballroom the next morning!

Day 1:

  1. Understanding Web Design

    When the institutions we have appointed to judge our best work do not understand the nature or value of that work, then our clients, bosses, and coworkers won’t understand it either. And their lack of understanding can put crippling limits on your professional happiness, your long-term career, and the success of your next project. It is hard enough to achieve good design when every stakeholder on your team understands it. But when half the people on your team, possibly including some key “creatives,” don’t know what you do or why you do it, it becomes impossible to deliver good design—design that delights, that achieves business goals and user goals, that creates communities, and that gives people capabilities they didn’t even know they wanted. Discover how to find the essence of our profession, and learn to become the ambassador for web design that our work and your career deserve.

  2. Touchy Subjects: Creating Content for Sensitive Situations

    Our readers and users are human. They have their own preferences, experiences, senses of humor, and perspectives—and they bring all of that to the table when they interact with our content. We can’t see our users, and we don’t know what’s going on in their lives, so we don’t always create experiences with their feelings in mind. Certain topics are likely to make them feel uncomfortable or frustrated. Sensitive content types many of us work on every day include error messages, alerts, legal content, financial information, and warnings. Learn how to address touchy subjects, anticipate the reader’s emotional state, and write from a place of empathy.

  3. Atomic Design

    Over the past few years, we’ve seen the web community create style tiles, element collages, style guides, pattern libraries, and a slew of other tools in order to break interfaces down to their atomic elements. Our interfaces are going more places than ever before, so this shift is essential to help us better understand what our websites consist of in order for us create smart, scalable, maintainable designs. This session will introduce atomic design, a methodology for creating robust design systems. We’ll cover how to apply atomic design to implement your very own design system in order to set you, your organization and clients up for success.

  4. Lunch

  5. Screen Time

    When many of us were kids, screen time was how long we were allowed to sit in front of a TV. Screen time today is much more complex. People increasingly move between and simultaneously use screens of various sizes, proportions, and quality as they get online each day. From working around the differences in contrast between devices, to adjusting UI to compensate for different viewing differences; from RESS techniques to combine the best of server-side and responsive techniques, to the magic of vertical media queries and much more, you will gain a deeper understanding of screen time today, and explore new ways to design effective cross-screen experiences for tomorrow.

  6. Mind the Gap: Designing in the Space Between Devices

    There’s untapped magic in the gaps between gadgets. As devices multiply, the new opportunity is less about designing individual screens and more about designing interactions between them—often without using a screen at all! Learn to create web and app experiences that share control among multiple devices, using not only screens but sensors. The technology is already here in our pockets, handbags, and living rooms. Learn how to use it right now. 

  7. UX Strategy Means Business

    We are in an age where poor user experiences become the focus of nationwide attention. One doesn’t need to look beyond recent catastrophes, such as Apple’s iOS6 Maps, Healthcare.gov, and the demise of Blackberry’s smartphone to see the necessity of getting the experience right. Yet, what do we know about ensuring that our next design isn’t going down the same road as those that have failed before us? We need to understand how design integrates with our organization’s strategy, to be certain that we’re supporting and enhancing it, not taking away from it. You’ll learn how to integrate user experience strategy with your business’s objectives.

  8. Opening Night Party

    Nansen is sponsoring the opening night party in Chicago. More details to come!

Day 2:

  1. Enhance!

    We’re working on increasingly complex websites. There’s a temptation to match this growth with increasingly complex solutions. But there’s a real value in keeping things simple...or at least _starting_ things simple. If you can build a solid robust foundation, there’s a good chance that your work will be future-friendly. Prepare to have your brain subtly rewired as we look beneath the surface-level implementation details of the web to reveal the semantic structure below. Whether you’re publishing content or building the latest hot app, the principle of progressive enhancement will change the way you think about your work.

  2. Icon Design Process

    Icons are more than just pretty decorative graphics for sites and applications, they are little miracle workers. They summarize and explain actions, provide direction, offer feedback and even break through language barriers. Whether you design icons yourself or just need to be able to work with them, this session will take you through the whole process of designing and deploying resolution independent icons—from the initial brief, to choosing format or method to deploy them. On the way it will cover choosing the right metaphor, achieving visual balance, and using techniques such as icon fonts and SVG for scalable and lightweight distribution.

  3. Hit it With a Pretty Stick

    Good visual design means more than just faithfully adhering to your chosen layout grid or applying rounded corners. Thoughtful, coherent, and professional visual design will not only help you shape the user experience, but also inform people about what your site does, how it works, and what your brand stands for. It sets the stage for a user experience that's emotional as well as functional. In this session, Jenny will discuss fundamental aesthetic principles that can be applied to web experiences of all shapes and sizes, present some objective tools for creating or critiquing site aesthetics, and offer techniques on how to fold aesthetic thinking into the development process from day one.

  4. Lunch

  5. Just Enough Research

    Every product, service, or interface we design in the safety and comfort of our workplaces has to survive and thrive in the real world. This means countless strangers will be using our creations in a chaotic environment over which we have no control. Research is the key to grounding ideas in reality and improving the odds of success, but research can be a very scary word. It may sound like money you don’t have, time you can’t spare, and expertise you have to seek. Fear no more. Learn practical, effective, efficient techniques that work within any design and development process to give you invaluable insight into your users and what they need and value. Not only will you reduce the risk of a wrong guess, you’ll also uncover new opportunities for innovation.

  6. How Designers Destroyed the World

    Designers have a responsibility, not only to themselves and to their clients, but also to the wider world. We are designers because we love to create, but creation without responsibility breeds destruction. Every day, designers all over the world work on projects without giving any thought or consideration to the impact that work has on the world around them. This needs to change. In this bluntly honest talk, Mike will invite you to consider your responsibilities as a designer and embrace your role as gatekeeper. You’ll learn how to increase your influence and be moved to use your powers for good.

  7. How To Champion Ideas Back At Work

    An Event Apart, as the name says, is special indeed. But what happens when you leave? How will you act on what you’ve learned? This talk by master of design evangelism Berkun will show you how to bend the brains of your coworkers and clients to your will! You’ll get great advice on educating, inspiring and leading people who weren’t even at the show. Don’t miss this fun closing talk that will ensure you get as much value from your time after An Event Apart as you did during.

Day 3:

  1. Workshop: Mobile Design Now

    Mobile is eating the world. As portable computers continue to take over, PCs aren’t keeping pace and neither are our PC design tendencies. Simply porting over existing desktop experiences isn’t enough. We need to think, design, and build digital experiences differently for today’s mobile world.

    This full-day workshop will not only illuminate the mobile opportunity but provide practical advice on how to take advantage of it. You’ll learn to:

    • avoid desktop tendencies that result in poor mobile experiences
    • design for how people actually use mobile devices
    • work with native and web design conventions
    • optimize designs for small screens
    • take advantage of mobile capabilities
    • start from the mobile experience and extend outward

    This full-day workshop follows An Event Apart Chicago and runs 9:00am-4:00pm on Wednesday, August 27. You can register online and save over $100 when you sign up for both An Event Apart and the workshop.

    Note: The workshop is not a hands-on learning session; 300 or more people typically attend.

The Venue

Westin Chicago River North 320 N. Dearborn Street Chicago, IL 60654

The Westin Chicago River North has arranged special room rates for An Event Apart attendees: just $259/night plus free internet for the duration of your stay. Call (312) 744-1900 and request the “An Event Apart special rate.” Limited rooms are available at this rate, so don’t delay.

The Westin Chicago River North offers refined accommodations and magnificent views of the Chicago River that will leave you feeling rested and recharged. The hotel is nestled in the heart of the business and theatre districts, trendy restaurants, and art galleries. Guests enjoy scenic views and an ideal location just steps from Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park. This AAA Four Diamond Award winning hotel is a completely smoke-free environment and offers delicious restaurants and a gym. Best of all, it’s the site of the conference. You can walk out of your room and into the show!