An Event Apart Atlanta – A Recap

Today went by in a blur. I arrived at Turner Field this morning shortly after 7am, just before a front of heavy rainstorms poured through the Atlanta area.

I was able to meet Eric Meyer and Jeffrey Zeldman one on one first thing. Meeting Eric Meyer was pretty cool… He walked towards me, and the first thing out of my mouth was, “Nice to meet you Eric Meyer. I love your books.”

Both Eric and Jeffrey were the nicest guys you could have ever met. They’re like superstars in the web design field, but they haven’t let that get to their heads.

The weather did more than soak AEA attendees. It knocked out the WiFi in the 755 Club. Kind of ironic if you think about it… Here we are, at one of the pre-eminent events in the web design community, and our medium of choice was unavailable.

The lack of connectivity didn’t stop the likes of Eric, Jeffrey or Jason Santa Maria. Their topics were fascinating.

Internet Explorer and the Future of CSS

Eric started the morning talking about Internet Explorer 7 and the Future of CSS. Coming fresh of attending MIX06, Eric had lots to tell us about IE7, how it’ll handle current hacks, and more. I had some bad experiences with installing on IE7 on my own production machine at work, but I’m looking forward to a more final version of the app now that I’ve heard Eric talk about it.

What’s the Story, Morning Glory?

After a short break, Zeldman started in on What’s the Story?, where he discussed good agencies versus bad agencies; talking with clients; how to smell trouble with clients; and much, much more. I thought his discussion on dealing with clients to be most insightful… Especially the thought that we can hold to this higher ideal that design needs to be the way it is without exception, or we can allow the client to be apart of the process… and give into their feedback from time to time – if it means seeing the project through its end.

Too often, we make the mistake of giving in too much, or not at all, and we damage the client-designer relationship.

And then we had another break… did I mention that the 755 Club was awesome? The view overlooking Turner Field was amazing.

Solving (re)Design Problems

I think Jason Santa Maria is an awesomely talented guy. His presentation on Solving (re)Design Problems was great. It was very insightful to peer into his workflow to see how about he and the rest of the ALA team went about redesigning A List Apart. He walked us through every step of the process… from creating a logo, creating the design, and working with team members to get things implemented. This was why I wanted to come to AEA:Atlanta… to get a peek inside of the minds of the “pros”.

Bringing A List Apart Together

Eric jumped back to the forefront following Jason’s presentation to discuss how they pulled A List Apart together. It was a bit more technical in nature… with Eric detailing how he started visualizing the CSS based on Jason Santa Maria’s design concept. Again, going back to my reason for attending AEA… it was great to see how Eric worked. And it was great to see how the code behind the ALA site came together.

Lunchie Munchies

Lunch was great! The 755 Club catered a great meal – offering hamburgers, Carolina Cole Slaw, Barbeque and more… It wasn’t to be missed. I sat down and ate lunch with Jeremy Flint, a designer out of Birmingham, AL (and, incidentally a member of the community). Jeremy’s a great guy, that I’m glad I was able to meet. You can’t beat the location we had lunch, either. We opted to go outside, where the weather had cleared to reveal a beautiful, warm, sunny day… and at lunch overlooking the baseball field. (I’ll post some pictures tomorrow.)

Sponsor Giveaways

After lunch, the fine folks over at Media Temple gave away 25 1-year hosting plans to attendees.


Let’s face it, the web is filled with bad copy. (A lot of which is on my site!) Zeldman’s presentation went over making web copy more readable, more concise. Get rid of the crap! No one wants to read it anyway.

Then Came Dominey

I was especially looking forward to hearing Todd Dominey speak, once he announced he’d be making a special appearance at the event. His topic: the Off-Hour Entrepreneur. When he built SlideShowPro last year, he had no idea that it would take off like it did. He just built something he thought would be useful, and it took off. He’s now making more selling that Flash component than he is making at his day job. Find a niche, build something you’d want to buy, and you might enjoy the sort of success he’s had.

Final Break

Then we had our final break, where Eric and Jeffrey awarded some books to 15 lucky attendees via the Atlanta AIGA. Jeremy was one of the lucky ones. He snagged a copy of Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing.

Wrapping Up

The final session of the day dealt with One True Layout, and Equal Height Columns via CSS. Eric Meyer walked everyone through the steps we would take to incorporate this method into our designs. I was blown away with how simple the concept was. Even Eric admitted that he wish he had thought of it first.

Closing Thoughts

An Event Apart was an awesome experience. I got to meet a lot of people in the design field that I have never met before, and I was able to learn a lot in one jam-packed day. I learned so much my brain hurt. It was an awesome experience, well worth the time, money and travel. I will gladly do it again in the future.

The lack of WiFi bothered me a little bit, but in the end – because I didn’t have the net as a distraction – I was able to concentrate a lot more on the presentations versus checking my email, scouring the web for liveblogs of the event, etc. If I had access to the net, it’s very possible that I could have missed everything.

Don’t just take my word for it, though, head on over to the Flickr Pool for AEA Atlanta ’06. Others captured the event much better than I could have.