2007 Web Directions North wrap up

With Web Directions coming to Vancouver for the first time, I knew I didn’t want to miss out on this events. Here is a brief summary of my experience at Web Directions North 2007

First, I had the pleasure of meeting the following people (in alphabetical order):

  • John Allsopp
  • Angela Baxley
  • Kenneth Berger
  • Brian (West Coast Logic)
  • Dan Cederholm
  • Marc Charron
  • Joe Clark
  • Andy Clarke
  • Craig Cook
  • Brian Duchek
  • Jonathan Eckmier
  • Derek Featherstone
  • Ian Fenn
  • Molly E. Holzschlag
  • Klaus Komenda
  • Seamus Leahy
  • Bill MacEwan
  • Alex MacLennan
  • Eric Nowina
  • Greg Rewis
  • Dave Shea
  • Maxine Sherrin
  • Jonathan Snook
  • Stephanie Sullivan

I’m not going to bore you with the gory details, but I’d rather go over the highlights and some lighter moments from my perspective.

Accessibility 2.0 with Derek Featherstone

Highlights

  • Use of Multiple Intellegence Theory and how it’s used this to solve issues.
  • Issues with Checkpoint 6.3 using a binary approach.
  • An in-depth analysis of Hijax and how it works.
  • Opera uses tab to only tab through form fields in a form.
  • Seeing the differences between the different versions of JAWS.
  • Learning that visually impaired people are starting to use physically raised letters instead of braille.
  • If your site is having a particular issue with a screen reader, include it in your accessibility statement.
  • For an invalid form input, perhaps have an audible sound to alert the user.
  • tabindex="-1"
  • readonly=readonly
  • The interesting prospects of the proposed WAI-ARIA.
  • Thinking of the construction of a web application like a traditional storyboard walk-through for animation.

Lighter Moments

  • Ian Fenn accidentally unplugged the projector right before the class.
  • Having JAWS and Window Eyes try to read out content while Derek was attempting to talk.
  • Derek shaking his fists at the laptop when the above point occurred.
  • Poking fun at the Adobe representatives.

Opening Keynote – WSI Vancouver – Crimes against Web Standards with Molly E. Holzschlag

Highlights

  • Well, this was the first time I had seen Molly talk, so the whole experience was quite light-hearted for me. Still informative and engaging.
  • Someone admitting they had used ActiveX controls.

Lighter moments

  • Seeing Eric Meyer with a "Snakes on a Plane" poster on his wall.

Design and Coding at the cutting edge with Cameron Moll

Highlights

  • The diagram that shows Graphic Design (Means) combined with Human Computing (Involvement) and Communication (Meaning) to come up with the UI. (An experience)
  • Making input buttons intuitive. (e.g.: "Remember" versus "Yes")
  • The very insightful example of where you would put armor on a plane, based on a history of where the bullet holes were found on the planes that returned. (Think about it)
  • Do you want to see if a site has sufficient contrast and hierarchy? Try applying a blur as well as devoiding a page of colour. Can you still tell what is what? (I believe this ties into the rules of composition)
  • Apparently, <a href="tel:604-123-1234">604-123-1234</a> will work as a dialable link on a phone.
  • XHTML-MP is the preferred market language for mobile devices.

Accessibility and the Design Process with Joe Clark

Highlights

  • Poking fun at the deprecated TTC site.
  • Getting a real good idea at how much work it will actually take to rebuild the TTC site to a standards-based design. Basically, it sounded like you would need a team of at least 10 people to even attempt it.

Lighter Moments

  • Seeing swear words on the projector.
  • Announcement about the Boys’ Night Out at Pub Jacks. "No girls, no trannies. Sorry, kids.".

Transcendant Design with CSS and JavaScript with Andy Clarke and Aaron Gustafson

Highlights

  • Seeing "The Jam" play on the projector before the presentation.
  • The idea of looking at different cultures, menus and books for artistic inspiration.
  • Thinking of everyday situation and wondering how you would mark them up. (e.g.: A rack of different breads at a bakery. Perhaps an unordered list?)

Lighter Moments

  • Helped Andy move a chair on stage. I commented that "I never would have thought I’d be moving a chair with Andy Clarke today!".

Web Apps: Developer to Designer with Paul Hammond and George Oates

Highlights

  • Learning more about SMARTY.
  • Think of designing something by considering it in it’s next larger context. (e.g.: a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house on a street, a street in a city.)
  • Learning about Yahoo Pipes.
  • Seeing the design process behind the current interface you see at Flickr.

In summary, Web Directions North was as a life-changing experience for me, and I don’t say that very often. It was quite a thrill to be able to talk face to face with my mentors who have helped me out tremendously, past and present.

And how do you top it all off? When I had seen Dave, Derek, John and Maxine at the very end of the conference standing on stage receiving a standing ovation, I felt proud of what they had brought to Vancouver. As well, I had a vision. I had the distinct thought that someday, that will be me. Seriously!

A sincere thanks to these organizers for allowing me to share in the experience. It was quite something for me personally and professionally. Looking forward to you all coming back to the northern hemisphere.

References