An Event Apart Chicago 2019

Three days of design, code, and content

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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 main 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 Check-in/Badge Pick-up

  3. Breakfast

  4. Morning Welcome

  5. Slow Design for an Anxious World

    Most web pages are too fast or too slow. Last year, Zeldman showed us how to create design that works faster for customers in a hurry to get things done. This year he’ll show how to create designs that deliberately slow your visitors down, helping them understand more and make better decisions.

    Learn to make layouts that coax the visitor to sit back, relax, and actually absorb the content your team works so hard to create. Improve UX significantly without spending a lot or chasing the tail lights of the latest whiz-bang tech. Whether you build interactive experiences or craft editorial pages, you’ll learn how to ease your customers into the experience and build the kind of engagement you thought the web had lost forever.

  6. Extending CSS With SVG and Houdini

    Styling websites is more dynamic than ever—and while CSS is ever-evolving, we can leverage the power of SVG and emerging technologies like Houdini to give us even more control over the look and feel of our websites. In this detail-packed talk, Una will explore how to use SVG in our UIs and integrate them directly into elements, rather than only use them for icons or decorative illustrations. She’ll also dive into a look at the upcoming CSS Houdini spec and its various APIs, going over the possibilities that will arise and what they will mean for the future of CSS development. If you’ve ever wanted to customize CSS itself to do something new, you won’t want to miss this talk.

  7. Dynamic Typographic Systems and Variable Fonts: Scalable, Fast, and Fabulous

    Modern developments in CSS make it easier than ever to create robust, scalable, elegant typographic systems on the web. Add variable fonts and the design, technical, and performance benefits are really exciting. We’ll look at how to combine them with other CSS capabilities like custom properties, calculations, and grid to create a whole new way to think about design and development. We’ll see how they work together by using some variable fonts in layouts that work across screen dimensions, accessibility needs, design requirements, and even network speeds—better than you thought possible.

  8. Generation Style

    Consider, if you will, CSS generated content. We can, and sometimes even do, use it to insert icons before or after pieces of text. Occasionally we even use it add a bit of extra information. And once upon a time, we pressed it into service as a hack to get containers to wrap around their floated children. That’s all fine—but what good is generated content, really? What can we do with it? What are its limitations? And how far can we push content generation in a new landscape full of flexible boxes, grids, and more? Join Eric as he turns a spotlight on generated content and shows how it can be a generator of creativity as well as a powerful, practical tool for everyday use.

  9. Making Things Better: Redefining the Technical Possibilities of CSS

    For years we’ve explained that the web is not like print; that a particular idea is not how things work on the web; that certain things are simply not possible. Over the last few years, rapid browser implementation of advances in CSS have given us the ability to do many of these previously impossible things. We can use our new powers to build the same designs faster, or we can start to ask ourselves what we might do if we were solving these problems afresh.

    In this talk, Rachel will look at the things coming into browsers right now which change the way we see web design. CSS subgrids allowing nested grids to use the track definition of their parent; logical properties and values moving the web away from the physical dimensions of a computer screen; screen experiences which behave more like an app, or even paged media, due to scroll snapping and multidimensional control. By understanding the new medium of web design we can start to imagine the future, and even help to shape it.

  10. Designing Intrinsic Layouts

    Twenty-five years after the web began, we finally have a real toolkit for creating layouts. Combining CSS Grid, Flexbox, Multicolumn, Flow layout and Writing Modes gives us the technical ability to build layouts today without the horrible hacks and compromises of the past. But what does this mean for our design medium? How might we better leverage the art of graphic design? How will we create something practical, useable, and realistically doable?

    In a talk full of specific examples, Jen will walk you through the thinking process of creating accessible & reusable page and component layouts. For the last four years, Jen’s been getting audiences excited about what, when, and why. Now it’s time for how.

  11. Happy Hour

    Join us at A Happy Hour Apart, to be held right outside the main auditorium. 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. Attendee Check-in/Badge Pick-up

  4. Morning Welcome

  5. Making Research Count

    It’s hard to do really impactful user research, not just because research techniques aren’t easy but because getting the permission, time, budget, and attention can be huge challenges on their own. Cyd will discuss how to build a valuable research practice in any company by doing strong small research projects and involving the broader team. Her talk will cover both technical tips (such as how to create simple templates for data recording that make research synthesis easier) and communication advice gained from decades of expanding the reach of research in organizations large and small. If your team hasn’t yet made user research a core part of your design and product work, you’ll leave this talk with a map of how to start. And if you already do research but see it ignored or dismissed, you’ll go home with new ways to make sure it gets the attention and influence it should have. Wherever you are, Cyd’s talk will help your team get the most out of the time and energy you spend with your users.

  6. New Solutions to Old Problems: Voice User Interface Design

    Voice technology has leapt from an entertainment technology to a mainstream success. Why voice? Why now? Rather than solving new problems, voice technology succeeded by presenting new, more inclusive solutions to problems originally solved by text and pointer input.

    In this engaging talk, Cheryl will take us from the “why” behind voice interfaces to the “how.” Explore how design process and strategy must change when delivering voice designs: which deliverables live on, and how do we convince our stakeholders to invest in voice when it benefits our customers? You’ll come away with a better understanding of when voice is an appropriate tool, and how to start adapting your design process for these new solutions.

  7. Move Fast and Don’t Break Things

    Performance is a high priority for any site of scale today, but it can be easier to make a site fast than to keep it that way. As a site's features and design evolves, its performance is often threatened for a number of reasons, making it hard to ensure fast, resilient access to services. In this session, Scott will draw from real-world examples where business goals and other priorities have conflicted with page performance, and share some strategies and practices that have helped major sites overcome those challenges to defend their speed without compromises.

  8. Special Screening: Rams

    Rams is the new documentary film from Gary Hustwit (Helvetica, Objectified, Urbanized) about legendary designer Dieter Rams. For over 50 years, Rams has left an indelible mark on the field of product design with his iconic work at Braun and Vitsoe, and his influence on Apple. So at 86 years old, why does he now regret being a designer? Rams is a design documentary, but it’s also a rumination on consumerism, sustainability, and how technology is changing human behavior. Dieter's philosophy is about more than just design, it’s about a way to live. The film features an original score by pioneering musician Brian Eno.

  9. Web Forms: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t!

    We've long known that shorter forms make for happier users and higher completion rates. Now new technology allows us to simplify forms further—to a point where they no longer feel like forms. We can make forms so easy to to fill out that you could complete them blindfolded. What is this wizardry? Join Jason as he shows you how to amaze and delight your users using new APIs and inputs to make your forms magical.

  10. The Weight of the WWWorld is Up to Us

    In just over 25 years since World Wide Web was invented, we’ve reached a tipping point where more than 50% of the planet’s population is connected. The Web has dramatically transformed the way we live, work, shop, collaborate, communicate, educate and entertain ourselves, and find opportunities to improve our lives. As the audience has grown, so has the size of the Web itself: bigger pages, more images, video, scripts and styles, all with a very real cost — in connection and bandwidth fees, files stored and transferred, batteries charged, etc. These costs can materially influence conversion rates and profit levels, and can also determine whether we promote access for everyone, and widen or narrow the digital divide.

    We web designers and developers make decisions every day that tip the scale in one direction the other. This talk will examine how performance-related decisions (intentional or not) affect our users, explore tools to measure and assess the impacts of our choices, and offer techniques to improve web performance and accessibility for all.

  11. The Technical Side of Design Systems

    You can have a killer style guide website, a great-looking Sketch library, and robust documentation, but if your design system isn't actually powering real software products, all that effort is for naught. At the heart of a successful design system is a collection of sturdy, robust front-end components that powers other applications' user interfaces. In this talk, Brad will cover all that's involved in establishing a technical architecture for your design system. He'll discuss front-end workshop environments, CSS architecture, implementing design tokens, popular libraries like React and Vue.js, deploying design systems, managing updates, and more. You'll come away knowing how to establish a rock-solid technical foundation for your design system.

  1. Day 3

  2. Breakfast

  3. Attendee Check-in/Badge Pick-up

  4. Morning Welcome

  5. Going Offline

    Web design is complicated. Web development is complicated. Everything seems to be constantly changing—there’s so much to keep track of. But there’s one thing we can confidently say for sure: websites need an internet connection in order to work. Right? Well, even that is no longer true. Thanks to the powerful technology of service workers, you can now design and develop websites that work offline. This is a game-changer! And now you’ve got something new you need to learn. But don’t worry—Jeremy is here to talk you through a whole range of offline strategies. By the end of this presentation, you’ll have all the knowledge and code you’ll need to free your website from the tyranny of the network connection.

  6. Emerging CSS Techniques and What They Mean for Accessibility

    CSS is a core component of sophisticated web page design and development, especially in the modern world of digital brand guides, design systems, and complex web applications. It can override HTML’s mostly-accessible styling defaults for better or worse, providing lightweight mechanisms to bring innovative and inclusive designs to life. While it’s a fine idea to deliver accessible experiences with simple HTML and little-to-no CSS, in some cases–and in most complex web applications–we must leverage JavaScript to manage a UI component’s accessible state or to unlock new browser features such as Shadow DOM and Web Components.

    In this deeply practical talk, Marcy will look at some of the newest and shiniest CSS techniques, weighing them against accessibility support and browser compatibility. Some techniques can impact accessible user experience in unexpected ways, such as unintentional mutations to the browser’s accessibility tree or a confusing focus order. We’ll weigh those trade-offs, pushing web development forward while always keeping accessible user experience in mind.

  7. Making Motion Inclusive

    Let’s clear the air about animation and inclusive design. It’s a common misconception that things like inclusive design and accessibility only come at the cost of design details like motion, but that’s just not the case. Whether it’s microinteractions, animated illustrations, or larger animated experiences, a little care and consideration can go a long way towards getting the best of both worlds. In this dynamic session, Val will show you how to build animated interactions with inclusivity in mind from the start. We’ll discuss how to apply web accessibility guidelines to modern web animation, when and how to implement reduced motion, and approaches to building up animated interactions for a solid standards base.

  8. Inclusive, by Design

    For years, conversations about accessibility have bubbled around designers and developers. We’ve seen waves of hope and despair as mainstream products hit the internet and include or exclude accessibility considerations, and subsequently people with disabilities. Then we hear people state emphatically “We aren’t intentionally excluding people with disabilities!” We hear it. But the reality is this: you’re not intentionally including them either.

    In this talk, Derek walks you through case studies of accessibility and inclusion on the web and with apps. You’ll get an inside look at the techniques he’s used with clients for the last decade, and at the lessons learned that help you move towards a truly inclusive design process. Put that all together, and you’ll leave with a repeatable framework for intentional inclusion in your design.

  9. The Customer-Obsessed Professional

    This is the Age of the Consumer. Never before have customers had more power, more connectivity, more information, or more tools. Today, it’s not about designing for the customer but with them. Supporting your company’s business and advancing your career in this new age takes three essential skills: Humility, Agility, and Simplicity. Gerry McGovern explores all three in this fast-paced and memorable all-new session. You’ll learn to enhance the humility skills of listening, collaborating, and using evidence instead of gut instinct. Become more agile by increasing the amount of customer feedback you receive, and developing faster methods to make changes to your code, content, or design. And master the key metrics of customer simplicity. You’ll leave inspired to improve how you serve your customer, and knowing how to prove to management that making things simpler for the customer is the best business case of all.

Location

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

The conference site, Westin Chicago River North, has unfortunately run out of rooms at the conference rate. Please contact us if you need help finding a nearby hotel at or below the original rate of $269/night.

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!

An Event Apart Chicago 2019 is proud to be sponsored by: