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An Event Apart Seattle is a three-day conference with 18 sessions and an intense focus on digital design, UX, content, code, and more, giving you deep insights into where we are now and where things are going next.

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  1. Arrival Day

  2. Early Arrival/Check-in

    Grand Foyer, Fourth Floor

    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

    Grand Foyer, Fourth Floor
  3. Breakfast

  4. Morning Welcome

  5. Soft Skills are Hard!

    Our resumes promote our expertise with languages, toolsets, and frameworks, but to become truly effective in our organizations, we must also possess so-called “soft” skills. The finest CSS and sweetest Sketch chops in the world won’t get the right product made if you lack listening and persuasion abilities to match. Fear not: that Old Man of the Web, Jeffrey Zeldman, is here to share concepts and exercises that can help even the shyest, most cerebral developer or designer learn to step out from behind the monitor with confidence, and sell their best work ever.

  6. The Mythology of Design Systems

    Design systems have dominated web design conversations for a few years. Just as there’s no one way to make a website, there is no one way to make a design system. Unfortunately this has led to a lot of misconceptions around the creation and impact of this increasingly important tool. Do any of these sound familiar?

    • “It’s too restrictive.”
    • “It limits creativity.”
    • “It won’t work for editorial projects.”
    • “It’ll solve all our problems.”

    Drawing on her experiences building design systems at two highly visible and vastly different organizations, Mina will debunk some common myths surrounding design systems.

  7. Truly Portable Design Patterns

    One of the main promises of design systems is to create a pattern or component once and see it reused by designers and developers throughout your organization. This promise is mostly unrealized. The most common design tools cannot consume our front-end patterns, which are often locked in to a specific framework that may not work for every team or project

    Fortunately, our tools and web standards are catching up with our design system aspirations. New web-based design tools like Framer X and UX Pin make it possible to import pattern library components directly. Even more traditional design tools like Sketch can be now consume pattern libraries. And web components have the potential to become a lingua franca for design systems allowing us to create components that can be used with whatever JavaScript framework your team chooses.

    In this session, Jason will demonstrate how close we are to the promise of design systems by showing how components can flow through our design tools and development frameworks and what challenges remain to be solved.

  8. Remembrance of Tags Past

    As the web enters its fourth decade, we're still chasing the latest shiny techniques and tools like we're candy-fueled four year olds, and our users are too often suffering for it-- not just when we launch, but for years afterward. The past reaches into the present; it's up to us to make sure the present can reach into the future. It's time to start thinking beyond our ship dates and accept that the web is a long-term medium, one that demands more care than we're giving. In this wide-ranging talk, Eric will trace the roots of where we are to illuminate what we're missing, and how we can do better.

  9. Planning User Interfaces that Adapt to Reality

    A decade into building responsive experiences, you could say we’ve hit our stride when it comes to understanding how to handle variable viewports. Most wireframing, designing, and prototyping tools handle—or at least consider—that screen sizes vary. But adapting our layouts and interfaces to a variety of screen widths is only the beginning; we also need to consider things like network conditions, hardware capabilities (and limitations), interaction methods, and, ultimately, the variability of human existence that requires us to evaluate the accessibility of our products very seriously. Responsive design is only the tip of the iceberg.

    Given that we can't miraculously add more hours to the day nor is it likely we're going to be able to hire scads more people to aid us in this work, how do we even begin to address this reality? In this session Aaron Gustafson will introduce a straightforward way to begin accounting for the varied experiences your users will have: Interface Experience Maps. These simple documents are straightforward to create, easy to iterate, and can quickly become a rallying point for nearly every team that works on your product. Most of all, they'll help you wrap your head around all of the different ways your interfaces need to adapt.

  10. Leveraging the Superpowers of Layout in 2020

    It’s been three years since CSS Grid landed in browsers, marking a technological sea change in layout on the web. But our processes and thinking patterns haven’t caught up. We’re still stuck thinking about layout like it’s 2012. To kickstart our understanding of what’s newly possible, we need a step-by-step process for designing in our new reality. Jen Simmons will provide that process—sharing practical examples of how to use the power and tradition of graphic design on the web, while still creating work that’s usable and doable within time constraints.

  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!

  12. Getting to Senior in UX

    In this informal talk, Cyd condenses her extensive mentoring experience to show you how to take the career step from mid-level to senior as a designer working in organizations. How do you keep your edge as a practitioner as you step into leadership responsibilities? How do you become a pragmatic advocate for UX? How do you develop a resume and portfolio that speaks to the next level? How do you deal positively with organizational politics? How do you show up as a senior person both internally and in public? She'll discuss all of these tricky areas and there will be extra time to answer your questions.

  1. Day 2

  2. Breakfast

  3. Attendee Check-in/Badge Pick-up

    Grand Foyer, Fourth Floor
  4. Morning Welcome

  5. High-Impact User Research

    Research hours and dollars are precious: no one has enough of them, and everyone needs to make the most of every user interaction. In this in-depth discussion of user research recruiting techniques, Cyd will share her secrets for finding and engaging the best possible participants. She’ll talk about how to scope your sample size, identify behavioral (rather than just demographic) matches, offer enticing incentives, and even how to recruit people in the moment they experience the problem your product is meant to solve. If you can show your stakeholders engaged users coping with challenges in real time, you can generate a whole new level of impact for UX. Cyd’s advice will help you spend your precious research time with the people who can provide the most valuable and reliable responses to your product ideas.

  6. User Preference Design

    If we can better meet the individual needs of our users we enable an exceptional superpower to take root; enabling us to create super fans of our sites, lowering customer acquisition costs and raising brand awareness. All in ways that have previously been under-utilised in the skill set of the modern web designer.

    Let’s think about the outlier data, the anomaly use cases and the really tricky “personas” that are rarely more than an afterthought in our current design processes. As scary as it seems, it’s time we put a little more control into our users hands, rather than limiting the web to a one-size-fits-most school of thought.

    Known for her practical sessions at An Event Apart, Sarah will show you real-life case studies as to how she’s achieved great successes with this model of thinking for her clients and well-known brands. As well as practical tips, tricks, and quick-wins that you can take back to the office and take full credit for implementing.

  7. What Has Changed and Where’s it Going?

    The web moves fast. It always has. While involved in a large ecommerce redesign (originally built in 2012 during the heyday of responsive redesigns) we identified dozens of “responsive best practices” that are simply no longer necessary or no longer best practices. With a critical eye, we’ve been able to reduce quite a bit of cruft and overhead which improves the overall customer experience. Consider this talk a Responsive Web Design Refresher Course where we’ll look at problems that are no longer problems and find places you might be able to remove code and improve the user experience. We’ll also discuss where the web technology is going and what choices you might want to consider if you’re making new decisions today to help future-proof your site for tomorrow.

  8. Mind the Gap

    Despite good intentions, lots of user-centered design isn’t actually user-centered. Learn what drives these gaps and how your organization can align business and customer needs to deliver the kind of user experiences we all want to have online. With data informed insights, “live” redesigns, and more, Luke will give you the tools and information you need for successful user journeys.

  9. Now You See It: Understanding Display

    CSS Layout is all about boxes. We know that some boxes are blocks, and others are inline, and we can change the display type of elements by changing the value of the display property. That property holds the key to much more than this, however. It is the foundation on which all layout is built; the core of the inbuilt CSS layout system. Learning Grid Layout, or Flexbox, without understanding Display, leaves you with a wobbly foundation and more questions than answers.

    The real question isn't "Should I use Grid or Flexbox?" but instead, "How do I want these boxes to behave?" Understanding the interaction between layout methods will enable you to easily create fallbacks for older browsers, and knowing how the various formatting contexts behave unlocks margin collapsing and the behavior of items inside grid or flex layout. By the end of the hour, you'll understand how the display property underpins the layout system we have today, the things coming in the future, and be able to make more informed decisions when deciding how to build any part of your design, big or small.

  10. Designer vs. Developer!

    Designers and developers often have poor relationships, due to bad process. Their interactions are apathetic at best and antagonistic at worst. Designers iterate over rounds of unrealistic comps, leaving a brutally short runway for developers to actually build the product. Developers recoil from the design process, and expect designers to hand them “requirements” that they treat as gospel.

    In this session, designer Dan Mall and developer Brad Frost will duke it out on stage once and for all. Is there a better process that prioritizes collaboration and conversation? Should developers be involved in the design process? Can design systems really create a shared language between designers and developers? Can deliverables and "handoff" be reimagined? Can we finally say goodbye to a traditional waterfall process? You’ve gotta attend to find out!

  1. Day 3

  2. Breakfast

  3. Attendee Check-in/Badge Pick-up

    Grand Foyer, Fourth Floor
  4. Morning Welcome

  5. Design Principles For the Web

    Designing and developing on the web can feel like a never-ending crusade against the unknown. Design principles are one way of unifying your team to better fight this battle. But as well as the design principles specific to your product or service, there are core principles underpinning the very fabric of the World Wide Web itself. Together, we'll dive into applying these design principles to build websites that are resilient, performant, accessible, and beautiful.

  6. Animation in Design Systems

    Design Systems have changed the way that developers and designers collaborate on fonts, colors, UI structure, forms and the like. So why does it feel like animation in a design system always falls short? The animation section usually lays dormant aside from a "fade", or we craft one-offs for a perfect experience, but each perfect experience becomes less perfect because they don't share the same language. In this talk, we'll break down exactly how to build animations so that they're composable, extendable, and can be used for a multitude of purchases, and still maintain cohesion. We'll talk about how animation in specific requires teams to work together because it's an intersection of design and development: it's harder to throw over a wall. We'll break down exactly how to make it all fit together, for the most seamless collaboration between you and your team.

  7. Truths and Myths About Animation in our Work

    As an industry we make many assumptions about animation and its role in our work. Assumptions like: You need to be a motion designer to do UI animation, or that animation is just an extra decoration. These assumptions can hold us back from fully appreciating the potential of UI animation and hinder our design decisions.

    In this session, Val will cover common assumptions around UI animation and how understanding each—whether a myth or a truth—can impact your work. Learn how to successfully share motion ideas across design and development; to create meaningful principles around animation for your product; what animation can bring to the table for good UX; how to plan and choreograph multiple UI animations throughout a project; and more. You'll come away with a renewed confidence on how to effectively pull off UI animation.

  8. Inclusive Design: Thinking and Doing

    Inclusive design is a valuable process that we can use in our journey to make things more accessible for people with disabilities. This applies to all aspects of design — whether you’re designing your latest app or web site, a physical space, or even a meeting. There are some simple steps to take: first, we need to identify barriers to participation so that we can determine who has been excluded, and how they’ve been excluded in the past and present. Second, once we’ve identified those barriers, we can systematically improve our work by creating solutions that get past those barriers. And third, we can continue to learn from people with different disabilities what their needs are, and how we could continue to improve. Ultimately that all leads to creating an inclusive product that meets people’s accessibility needs AND we use an inclusive process to do it.

    In this session, Derek will share stories of success and failure as he worked with teams over the last year to engage with people with disabilities as co-designers, as well as the simple recipe for successfully creating a more inclusive design process.

  9. World Wide Waste

    Digital is the fastest growing user of energy and emitter of CO2. In 2019 alone, 50 million tons of e-waste was produced. If one year’s e-waste—just one year’s—was brought together in a single place, it would cover an area the size of Manhattan. More data was produced in the last two years than all the data produced in the entire history of humanity up until then. 90% of that data is not accessed again three months after it is created. In other words, 90% of what we do in digital is crap. What a waste!

    In this wide-ranging talk, Gerry McGovern will give you a waste-reduction plan and an energy-optimization plan for digital. It can be summarized as: less but better. How to minimize your personal, and your organization’s digital footprint. How to clean up the content and the code. How to identify what is not being used and remove it. How to maintain and continuously improve rather than launch and leave. How to plan your digital projects with the environment in mind so that you don’t add to the digital bloat and waste in the first place. How to tap into digital’s potential to support a cleaner and energy-efficient environment.


Early Bird Ends Soon!

Three-Day Pass

May 11-13, 2020

$1,500 through March 16

Your Three-Day Pass includes admission to the three-day Seattle conference , breakfast and lunch on all three days, access to all social events, and schwag.

Monday-Tuesday Pass

May 11-12, 2020

$1,100 through March 16

Your Monday-Tuesday Pass includes admission to the first two days of the Seattle conference, breakfast and lunch on both days, access to all social events, and schwag.

Tuesday-Wednesday Pass

May 12-13, 2020

$1,100 through March 16

Your Tuesday-Wednesday Pass includes admission to the last two days of the Seattle conference, breakfast and lunch on both days, access to all social events, and schwag.

Monday & Wednesday Pass

May 11-13, 2020

$1,100 through March 16

Your Monday & Wednesday Pass includes admission to the first and last days of the Seattle conference, breakfast and lunch on both days, access to all social events, and schwag.

Monday Pass

May 11, 2020

$600 through March 16

Your Monday Pass includes admission to the first day of the three-day Seattle conference, breakfast and lunch, and schwag.

Tuesday Pass

May 12, 2020

$600 through March 16

Your Tuesday Pass includes admission to the second day of the three-day Seattle conference, breakfast and lunch, and schwag.

Wednesday Pass

May 13, 2020

$600 through March 16

Your Wednesday Pass includes admission to the third day of the three-day Seattle conference, breakfast and lunch, and schwag.


The Westin Seattle has arranged a special rate of $239/night plus complementary in-room internet access for attendees of An Event Apart Seattle. Please use our special booking site or call (206) 728-1000 and ask for the special “An Event Apart” rate.

With a 24-hour fitness center, heated indoor pool, kids’ club, and more, The Westin Seattle Hotel is the ultimate downtown destination. Centrally located within walking distance of the Washington State Convention Center, Pike Place Market, CenturyLink and Safeco Fields, the Monorail, and Space Needle, The Westin Seattle Hotel offers the perfect Northwest escape.

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An Event Apart Seattle 2020 is sponsored by: