Field Report: An Event Apart Day Two


This is a summary of day two of the “An Event Apart” conference in Chicago.  To see day one go here.

Be Pure. Be Vigilant. Behave. Session

Jeremy Keith gave this session and he was the first person at the conference to actually show any code (and he showed client side javascript).  He raised a point that I have made in the past when I have talked about the use of AJAX on a web site:  Your site should still work even if the client does not use javascript.  The easiest way to accomplish this is to build the site first as a Web 1.0 style site (with postbacks), then you should add the AJAX functionality.  There is a real balance to this, because the presence or absence of AJAX would normally effect your design.

Best Practices For Form Design Session

Luke Wroblewski is a principle at Yahoo! and he showed a very visual presentation on design patterns for web forms.  Sounds really boring, but may have been one of the most useful presentation of the conference.  He gave some great “rules of thumb” for laying out your web forms.  Because the presentation was so visually oriented, it is tough to summarize this session.  Luke will have a book out next year, or you can read some of his blog entries about forms here.

Accessibility: Lost In Translation Session

Derek Featherstone gave us a wonderful insight into accessibility on web sites.  I have always thought that I had a good grasp of accessibility on web sites, but some of the issues that Derek showed during his presentation really humbled me.  AJAX and other cleaver DOM scripting techniques have really thrown a wrench into the accessibility of web sites to a level that I was not even aware of.

The State of CSS In an IE7 World Session

Eric Meyer gave this presentation on IE7.  As a guy who works for Microsoft I was “braced” for the worst, because if you search for Internet Explorer CSS Issues you get close to 1/4 of a million search results and most are not flattering (Internet Explorer 6 has a very checkered past).    Eric gave a fair and balanced view of IE7, and was complimentary of the work that the IE Team has done to fix the problems of the past and to comply to standards.


Eric made one point that was interesting:  He was very critical of sites that claim to know how what the percentages of people are using which browser (like 25% of all people are using Internet Explorer 7).  His point was that these sites aggregate data and the only thing they are telling you is what the aggregation is.  He said you should focus on what browsers you are seeing visiting your web site by looking at your logs (he used a funny example of http://netscape4plugins.com probably does not probably see a lot of traffic from IE).  He has a great point for existing web sites, but for new web sites I still think there is value in looking at aggregations.


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