Takeaways from 2014 An Event Apart Boston #aeabos

an event apart  national hockey league

Representing the @NHL, I recently had the pleasure of attending the An Event Apart in Boston. Per the conference best practices, I’m sharing my key takeaways from each speaker here so others can refer to them now, and again later for myself. While mostly relevant to my own current work, hopefully some of my notes are also relevant to your own work. At the bottom, is a link to my full notes in Evernote.

The following speakers spoke about design, user experience, color, patterns, mobile, responsive design and many other aspects of digital design from a practical and conceptual level:


  • Ask yourself what is a design problem and what is a technological problem.
  • Communicate outside of the design circle to inform others the importance of user experience and visual design, and it’s implications on the business.
  • Be proactive, don’t wait to be asked. Volunteer.
  • Educate. If others understand the importance of your work so our bosses understand what is we do, and why we do it.


  • Data > Instincts
  • Problem solve > Execute
  • New rule: no uninformed decisions.
  • Design, don’t decorate.
  • Track people and their habits. Predict their habits.
  • Experiment. Start with a “content first” experiment.


  • Framework > Process
  • Sprints should be a team exercise, not an individual exercise. Learn to pass the baton.
  • Overlap and Taper > Isolate and Hand-off
  • Plan, research, take inventory, sketch and assemble.
  • Maximum involvement through the team – pmo, ux, design, dev, qa


  • Not all screens are equal.
  • Size matters, but so does clarity, density and quality.
  • 0.5″ equals 1′ viewing distance (echoes Microsofts 10′ rule for Xbox One)
  • Low light vs. bright light – how does your design react?


  • Responsive ≠ Reactive
  • Content (story) informs the format.
  • RACI – responsible, accountable, consult, inform
  • Align terminology – good god yes!
  • Identify AND agree on timing and agends.
  • Roles > Titles
  • Team oriented work = shared objectives.


  • Content and design are not mutual exclusive. If one fails, both fail.
  • If a strategy can’t predict an outcome, the strategy is broken.
  • ↑ Revenue, ↓ Costs, ↑ New Business, ↑ Existing Business, ↑ Shareholder Value
  • Design to already defined user behavior.
  • Paywall requires high quality content.


  • Design for the future.
  • Is your url designed? Is it human readable?
  • Placeholders in menus – it’s an example, not a label.
  • Beware of JS – if it fails, everything fails.
  • Examine conditional content loading in a mobile environment.
  • Do you need that third-party API?


  • Critical content first.
  • Mobile, slower network. Mobile user, higher expectations.
  • Separate CSS – critical and non-critical.


  • While I learned a lot from this presentation, my notes had no working applications at this point.


  • Make mundane tasks better.
  • Design for people, not screens or devices.
  • Content syncing < Task (behavioral) syncing.
  • Never ever, ever, ever try to out-mouse the mouse.


  • Web v. Native (what are the security implications?)
  • Isolated code < HTML
  • I unfortunately had to take a call during the last half of Bruce’s presentation so my notes are incomplete.


  • Advocate, for your work and others
  • Be smart on LinkedIn (anywhere really, duh!)
  • Write a blog post (✓ check!)
  • Persuade; use your charm (my wife approves!)
  • Frame your idea with the audience in mind.
  • Find problems and provide solutions, include how it help them.

And here is a photo of Chris DiSanto (@SixThreeOh) playing Mario Kart in the Squarespace Lounge during the conference!

chris playing wii

Full Event Notes

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