Chicago

Three days of design, code, and content with:

Set yourself apart.

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 .

Seating is limited — Register Now!

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Event Schedule

  1. Arrival Day

  2. Early registration/Badge pick-up

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

  1. Day 1

  2. Attendee Event Check-in/Badge Pick-up

  3. Breakfast

  4. Morning Welcome

  5. Designing With Web Standards in 2016

    It’s been thirteen years since the first edition of Designing With Web Standards turned our industry on its ear, changing the way we design and develop websites. ​In a web ruled by Flash, table layouts, and sites coded to work in only one browser or another, DWWS showed how to make web content and experiences available to all people, browsers, devices, and search engines. It was heady stuff back in 2003. But how well do the tactics and strategies the book and subsequent editions recommended hold up in our multi-device, framework- and app-driven web of 2016? Is it time to discard progressive enhancement, semantic markup, and accessibility? Or can these ​techniques still help us master today’s complex design and development challenges? Survey the state of the art, and learn how to ensure that your site will work everywhere—today and tomorrow.

  6. Designing Deliberately

    Designers today have to juggle many tasks: making sites that are beautiful, engaging, and delivered quickly across often unreliable networks. It’s not surprising that the current web landscape is full of heavy websites serving dozens of web fonts, images, and complex interactions—or super-minimal sites that lack personality. In this presentation, we’ll find the balance between these extremes. Yesenia will discuss how to make smarter decisions about typography and other UI elements, and how to design deliberately. She’ll also talk about how to sell designs to clients and stakeholders, and to shift from judging design solely on aesthetic merits, and instead focus on creating the best user experience.

  7. Adapting to Input

    Responsive Web Design has forced us to accept that we don't know the size of our canvas, and we've learned to embrace the squishiness of the web. Input, it turns out, is every bit as challenging as screen size. We have tablets with keyboards, laptops that become tablets, laptops with touch screens, phones with physical keyboards, and even phones that become desktop computers. In this session, Jason will guide you through the input landscape, showing you new forms of input like sensors and voice control, as well as new lessons about old input standbys. You'll learn the design principles necessary to build web sites that respond and adapt to whatever input people use.

  8. Style Guide Best Practices

    We’re tasked with creating experiences that look and function beautifully across a dizzying array of devices and environments. That’s a tall order in and of itself, but once you factor in other team members, clients, stakeholders, and organizational quirks, things start looking downright intimidating. With so many variables to consider, we need solid ground to stand on. Style guides are quickly proving to be foundational tools for tackling this increasingly-diverse web landscape while still maintaining your sanity. Style guides promote consistency, establish a shared vocabulary, make testing easier, and lay a future-friendly foundation. This session will detail best practices and considerations for creating and maintaining style guides, so you can set up your organization for success.

  9. Designing for Understanding

    Our work focuses on creating great experiences, and we rightly obsess over usability. But how often do we obsess over understandability? If someone gets through a workflow but doesn’t truly know what they’ve done or why—or, worse yet, never even starts a workflow because they couldn’t grasp the benefits of doing so—then we’ve failed as designers. In this presentation, Stephanie will draw from her work with Capital One, Ben & Jerry’s, and FastCustomer.com to show how approaches like content-first design and contextual learning increase customer understanding—and result in fewer iterations, faster learning, and happier customers. She’ll also offer hard-won strategies for demonstrating the value of putting understanding first, and share where you can find hidden gems to practice these techniques in your day-to-day work.

  10. Revolutionize Your Page: Real Art Direction on the Web

    We finally have the tools necessary to create amazing page designs on the web. Now we can art direct our layouts, leveraging the power and tradition of graphic design. In this eye-opening talk, Jen will explore concrete examples of an incredible range of new possibilities. She’ll walk through a step-by-step design process for figuring out how to create a layout as unique as your content. You’ll learn how Flexbox, Grid, Shapes, Multicolumn, Viewport Units, and more can be combined together to revolutionize how you approach the page —any page.

  11. Opening Night Happy Hour

    Join us at A Happy Hour Apart, to be held right outside the main ballroom. We’ll provide tasty snacks and tastier beverages to recharge your body after a full day of recharging your mind!

  1. Day 2

  2. Breakfast

  3. Morning Welcome

  4. Motion In Design Systems: Animation, Style Guides, and the Design Process

    Interface animations are most effective when they work in concert as part of the bigger picture. Designing and choreographing your web animation efforts from the top down leads to more effective animations that integrate into your design system. And, defining a motion language for your brand can help your team to develop a shared vision from which to work. In this session, Val will cover guidelines for designing animation that fits your brand, making animation part of your design process, and documenting your animation decisions in your style guide for future use. All the things you need to make web animation work for you and your team.

  5. Performance Under Pressure

    Look. You’re busy people. You’ve been hearing a lot about the importance of building highly performant websites over the past few years, and there isn’t much there to argue with—not in a vacuum, at least. The trouble is, you and I have plenty of important things to worry about already: flexibility, maintainability, and accessibility, just to name a few. We only have so much time and our clients only have so much budget. Performance can end up an afterthought: an “if we have time at the end of the project” ticket languishing in an issue tracker somewhere, forever. Well, if you’re performance-minded but strapped for time, I have some good news. It doesn’t have to be a standalone phase, and it doesn’t have to be something we sell to our clients and bosses; it doesn’t have to be a big deal at all, really. We can sneak some minor—and some major—performance improvements into the ways we’re working right now. We can build a faster experience for our users without slowing ourselves down.

  6. CSS Grid Layout

    Since the early days of the web, designers have been trying to lay out web pages using grid systems. Likewise, almost every CSS framework attempts to implement some kind of grid system, using floats and often leaning on preprocessors. The CSS Grid Layout module brings us a native CSS Grid system for the first time—a grid system that does not rely on document source order, and can create complex layouts which are easily redefined with media queries. Following along with practical examples, you’ll learn how Grid works, and how it can be used to implement modern layouts and responsive designs.

  7. Special Screening: CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap

    Robin Hauser Reynolds, Director/Producer; Staci Hartman, Producer. From Finish Line Features.

    Tech jobs are growing three times faster than our colleges are producing computer science graduates. By 2020, there will be one million unfilled software engineering jobs in the USA. Through compelling interviews and artistic animation, CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap examines the varied reasons why more girls and people of color are not seeking opportunities in computer science and explores how mindsets, stereotypes, clogs in the educational pipeline, startup culture, a lack of role models, and sexism all play roles. Expert voices from the worlds of tech, psychology, science, and education—including coders at Yelp, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pinterest, Strava, Pandora, GitHub, and Pivotal—are intercut with inspiring stories of women who are engaged in the fight to challenge complacency in the tech industry and have their voices heard. CODE aims to inspire change in mindsets, in the educational system, in startup culture, and in the way women see themselves in the field of coding. More an initial survey than a final declaration, CODE hopes to inspire the audience to begin the changes that will one day narrow the gap.

  8. Extreme Design

    How can we be sure we’re creating the best design experiences possible? It turns out that creating great experiences for a particular subset of our users—people with disabilities—results in better designs for everyone. Focusing relentlessly on accessibility helps us think of extreme scenarios and ask questions like “how can we make this work eyes free?” and “how can we make this work with the least amount of typing?” Explore multiple methods of extremifying your designs—stressing them in ways they haven’t been stressed before—to illuminate opportunities for innovation, efficiency, and excellence that lead to great designs for everyone.

  9. Compassionate Design

    Designers are skilled at creating an ideal experience for idealized users. But what happens when our idealized experience collides with messy, human reality? Designs can frustrate, alienate, or even offend; form options can exclude; on-boarding processes can turn away; interactions can reject or even endanger. The more we build websites and digital products that touch every aspect of our lives, the more critical it becomes for us to start designing for imperfect, distressed, and vulnerable situations—designing interfaces that don’t attempt to make everything seamless, but instead embrace and accommodate the rough edges of the human experience. In this talk, Eric will explore a wide variety of failure modes, from the small to the life-changing, and show how reorienting your perspective and making simple additions to your process can help anticipate and avoid these failures, leading to more humane, and ultimately more compassionate, outcomes.

  10. Resilience: Building a Robust Web That Lasts

    Web browsers have become so powerful that developers are now treating them as if they were a runtime environment as predictable as any other. But the truth is that we still need to deal with many unknown factors that torpedo our assumptions. The web is where Postel’s Law meets Murphy’s Law, so we can’t treat web development as if it were just another flavor of software. Instead we must work with the grain of the web. You’ll learn tried and tested (as well as new) approaches to building for the web that will result in experiences that are robust, flexible, and resilient.

  1. A Day Apart

    This full-day session follows An Event Apart and runs 9:00am-4:00pm on Wednesday, August 31. You can register online and save over $100 when you sign up for all three days.

  2. Atomic Design: Process & Patterns

    Style guides, design systems, and pattern libraries provide solid ground for us to stand on as we tackle the increasingly diverse and fast-moving web landscape. This full-day session will tackle all that goes into making and maintaining successful interface design systems, including:

    • Atomic Design Principles – We’ll cover core principles of modular UI interface design and discuss considerations around atomic design, a methodology for crafting robust, deliberate design systems.
    • Selling Pattern Libraries – We all know design systems and pattern libraries are great, but how do you get your clients, bosses, and teammates on board? We’ll cover tactics and tools for selling pattern libraries to clients and stakeholders, and detail how to create an interface inventory to pave the way for style guide success.
    • A Pattern-Based Process – Making modular interfaces requires massive shifts in our design and development process. We’ll discuss why front-end development is an essential part of the design process and demonstrate how tools like lo-fi sketches, style tiles, element collages, Pattern Lab, and others facilitate collaboration—and result in successful design systems.
    • Style Guide Maintenance – Like a fine wine, a design system increases in value over time. We’ll discuss tactics and techniques to ensure that your pattern library stays in sync, and your design system provides lasting value to your organization.
    • UI Patterns – Creating modular interfaces is challenging, but thankfully the web community is hard at work creating flexible, downright innovative UI design patterns. We’ll look at patterns for tackling layout, navigation, images, data tables, and really anything else you can include in an interface.

    By the end of the day, you’ll be armed with all the insights and resources you need to create, sell, and maintain effective interface design systems.

     

Pricing

Conference + A Day Apart Pass August 29-31, 2016 $1,290.00 Buy Now!

  • Early Pricing through July 4: $1,290.00
  • Standard Pricing through August 28: $1,390.00
  • At-the-Door Pricing through August 31: $1,490.00

Conference Pass August 29-30, 2016 $995.00 Buy Now!

  • Early Pricing through July 4: $995.00
  • Standard Pricing through August 28: $1,095.00
  • At-the-Door Pricing through August 30: $1,195.00

A Day Apart Pass August 31, 2016 $499.00 Buy Now!

  • Early Pricing through July 4: $499.00
  • Standard Pricing through August 30: $549.00
  • At-the-Door Pricing through August 31: $649.00

Location

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!

Seating is limited — Register Now!