Presented by Jeffrey Zeldman.

  • When half of people don’t understand what we do or why we do it, it becomes impossible to deliver good design.

Art Directors Club

  • Stanford White designed Madison Square Garden (and was shot and killed there). Also designed the first Art Directors Club in New York City.
  • Art Directors Club helped establish design as a meaningful profession.

On flashy sites:

Those are the kinds of sites that win awards and that nobody uses.

Misunderstanding the Web

Something’s wrong when a web page can win awards for interactivity when the only interactive elements on the page are a “play” or “like” button.

  • The awards Art Directors Club hands out have a dramatic impact on the kinds of work companies seek out. This can be incredibly dangerous when the judges don’t understand the Web.
  • This year’s winners become next year’s judges and the cycle perpetuates itself.

The Mystery of Web Design

  • Limiting the professional happiness and long-term careers of all of us.

…and there was the <center> tag. I think I’ll center this layout!

The Facebook App

On small screens or large, anything that gets in the way of the user achieving their goal is bad.

  • Facebook approached mobile as a technology when it was a design problem.
  • The old Facebook app’s performance problems weren’t a referendum on HTML5. The problem was too many developers in too many silos working on the same problem at the same time.

How do we reduce complexity to deliver the experience the user loves about our product or site? That’s what we should focus on everywhere.

What is Web Design?

We don’t make our pages accessible or use progressive enhancement to get a gold star. We don’t design for browsers or mobile devices. We design for people. The Web isn’t technology. The Web is people.

  • Web design is like type design: a typeface is an environment for someone else’s expression.
  • Web design is like architecture: people chance the meaning of architecture. The architect relinquishes control. The people who use the building change the meaning.
  • A great website makes interaction easy. It guides you effortlessly toward your goal.
  • Great web design can be invisible or in your face.
  • Great web design delights. It makes you feel like you’re in a place and the place is real. It’s a place you want to go back to.

Turning Colleagues into Partners

  • Represent the profession. Show up on time!
  • Don’t wait to be invited to do your job. Nobody ever got fired for volunteering to do more work.
  • Make yourself part of every important conversation at your job.
  • Achieve the right things for the wrong reasons. This is okay! (see: The Cold War and the Space Race)
  • Figure out what the user needs and make it about them. Empathize with the person we’re working for.