Nablopomo – Day 15 – WordCamp Fraser Valley 2010

The 3rd annual WordCamp Fraser Valley is happening November 20, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. I’ll be there. You should be too.

When it comes to a WordCamp (or any ‘camp’ for that matter), one of the major aspects for me is being able to talk to as many people as possible. I’m fairly comfortable when it comes to my WordPress experience, so I really enjoy the networking aspect, having discussions and helping people out.

As well, I also try to come away with at least 2 things that enlighten me. It can be as simple as a fact, new WordPress method, or anything that I find inspiring. As long as I can take away something, then I’m happy.

So what did I get from last year’s WordCamp Fraser Valley? Here’s my highlights:

  • Meeting Gary Jones.
  • Meeting Melissa from Fine Lime Designs.
  • Glenda Watson Hyatt’s presentation on ‘How POUR is your blog?’ A great presentation on getting familiar with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Principals and tips on applying them to your own WordPress blog.
  • Joking around with Dave Zille. I’m bringing the Paper Twitter again!

If you haven’t purchased your WordCamp ticket yet, you better hurry!

Hope to see you there!

Design Jr. – Design from a child’s perspective

For inspiration, I want to share with you my original proposal for the 2008 IA Summit: Design Jr. – Design from a child’s perspective.

Back story

Back in 2006, I had attended the 2006 IA Summit. At the time, it was my first exposure to professionals in the IA field. I must say that I was a bit out of my own comfort zone, but that’s how I like to learn new things. Plus, the people I had met really made me feel at home.

In the same year, I was also learning all about being a father. From my own observations of watching him develop, I had seen the connections between my son’s experiences and what he retained. From this, I believed you could extrapolate the very basics of how we, as human beings, can learn and are guided. The result being that you have a better understanding of effective design.

From the summit and father-like experiences, it inspired me to write up a proposal for a presentation I had in mind for the 2008 IA Summit: Design Jr. – Design from a child’s perspective. This is what I submitted:

Title
Design Jr. – Design from a child’s perspective
Authors
Marco Battilana
Objective
To show the recognition and understanding of canonic icons/symbols with children and how it influences today’s user-centered and interaction design practices.
Description

The purpose of this presentation is to highlight one’s ability to recognize canonic icons/symbols, making that instant connection to understand the meaning behind it, and taking the appropriate and expected action. Specifically, what I want to show is examples of the earliest stage of this recognition possible – starting with children.

  1. I’ll show examples of recognition from an early age. Probably using flash cards of common imagery that loosely relates to canonic work that exists today: a house, an arrow, a stop sign, etc. This is to highlight the mental connection and understanding of the canonic imagery.
  2. I’ll show examples of trends that are happening in preschool where interaction is encouraged and the most effective methods to do so are highlighted. This is to highlight the connection between how children interact in a preschool environment and how it carries over as an adult.

From there, I will take these examples and show how it’s resulted in much of the user-centered design and interaction design work that is performed today. Basically, taking what was cited from point 1 and 2 and meshing them with real world examples of web and web application design.

Examples
  1. User-centered design
    • Observe children’s books from different countries to see the communication of letters, numbers, etc.
    • Cite example of showing my son my finished icon work and having him recognize (at a high level) what each one represents
    • Ideas for icons: An arrow versus a realistic finger, A fork and knife versus a realistic plate of food, Showing examples at various sizes to see the difference in recognizability
  2. Interaction design
    1. look at kiosks targeted for children

Results

My submission was rejected. Flatly rejected. In fact, out of the 7 people on the judging panel who gave feedback, 6 of them completely (and bluntly) discounted my proposal. I’ll be completely honest when I say that I was quite devastated at the results.

However, looking on the bright side, I did have the satisfaction of knowing that I had at least enlightened and inspired one person on the panel.

And the lesson to be learned?

Don’t give up. If you believe in something enough, make it happen. But, keep an open mind as to the feedback you receive. It’s always beneficial to bounce ideas off of others and refine as necessary, without effecting the integrity of your original idea.

Looking back, I don’t think the IA Summit was the right venue for this type of proposal. However, I see that there’s a related submission on the 2011 SXSW Panels. I’m going to submit this for 2012 and see where it goes from there.

Footnote

I want to thank Lisa Colvin for helping me out back in 2006. Not only did she tell me about the benefits of Linked In (and being my very first connection), but she also gave some very good advice. She told me not to feel so out of place, take full advantage of the knowledge base available and network as much as possible. And so I did.

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