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During the 2016 US presidential campaign, Mina spent most of her time building and refining Pantsuit, the design system that powered many of the applications hosted on hillaryclinton.com. In her Respond 17 talk, Styling Hillary: A Design System for all Americans , Mina will share successes and failures from nearly two years at Hillary for America, including creating CSS architecture and implementing a redesign of the main website. Here's part of her profile in Scroll.

Mina Markham

Coding a Pantsuit

Interview for Communication Arts, 2016. Respond 17: Mina Markham How did you first get started in front-end development and interactive design? My interest can be traced back to my high school journalism class. I was on the newspaper staff, and part of my role, in addition to writing, was to design the layout for articles. I realized that I enjoyed laying out articles more than writing them. I loved discovering new ways to visually represent the stories I had written. That was pretty telling for me. Once I got into print design, it was a natural evolution to interactive design, and from there, into front-end development. How did you learn the necessary skills? I have a formal design education from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. My time there helped me develop an aesthetic and understanding of what makes good design. I worked in print design and advertising for about five years before I made the switch. During that time, I was also working on interactive projects for freelance clients, teaching myself what I needed to know for each project. I did this by reading blogs, tutorials and books, attending conferences, and studying other people’s work. Viewing the source code of my favorite websites was, and still is, a big part of my learning process. It was a lot of trial and error—but mostly errors. I used the online technology schools Treehouse and Code School to do interactive code challenges. The CSS resource website CSS-Tricks is a godsend. CodePen is great for seeing examples of various front-end techniques. Chris Coyier is my unofficial professor of the Internet. I also love reading the blogs of front-end web developers Sara Soueidan and Una Kravets. The book collection A Book Apart is great for deep dives on single topics. And some favorite conferences are the Front Porch Conference, the Front-End Design Conference and the CSS Dev Conf. Respond 17: Mina Markham What led you to join Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign as a senior software engineer? A friend of mine worked for Obama in 2012, and when the time came to build a technology team for Secretary Clinton’s campaign, my friend suggested me. I hadn’t worked in politics before, so this was not something that would have occurred to me. Once I realized the potential impact I could have, it was too good to pass up. Not many people get handed an opportunity to be a part of history. What were the greatest challenges of creating Pantsuit, Hillary for America’s internal design system? Ideally, when creating a design system, you build it in tandem with the product it powers so they can both grow and adapt as needed. Initially, the biggest challenge was that I was locked into an existing design. The first version of Pantsuit was written as a one-to-one interface parity with the donation platform at the time. So I had to figure out a way to rewrite all the underlying code powering the design, without making any visual changes. This type of code refactor isn’t unusual, but doing so at the scale and speed required—and creating a design system in the process—was a unique challenge. One of the requirements of a system like Pantsuit is modularity. To achieve this, I had to take the existing patterns I saw and anticipate how they might be used in a different context. Each design was broken down into smaller pieces that could be rearranged into a new pattern. As I was building the pieces of Pantsuit, I was using those pieces to create a new, yet identical, version of the donations platform. Sometimes, I would find that I was too broad in my definition of a pattern or module and would have to rethink my approach. For both versions of Pantsuit, I created an interface inventory of each design. I printed copies of each user flow and cut out pieces of the design. I tried to get as granular with the interface as possible: buttons, form inputs, typographic treatments, navigational elements, etc. Afterwards, I grouped similar pieces together to see if they could be consolidated. For example, narrowing down buttons to two sizes or simplifying the color palette. This process made the code more consistent and easier to mix and match into new patterns. Respond 17: Mina Markham That's the end of this excerpt from Scroll magazine. Come and see Mina and the rest of the amazing line-up at Respond 17 in May. Interview originally published at http://www.commarts.com/column/coding-pantsuit" ["post_title"]=> string(39) "Respond 17 Scroll Excerpt: Mina Markham" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(38) "respond-17-scroll-excerpt-mina-markham" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-04-10 22:23:07" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-10 11:23:07" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7198" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [1]=> object(WP_Post)#986 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7175) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-04-10 10:00:43" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-09 23:00:43" ["post_content"]=> string(10561) "Following on from our Video of the Week on Friday, a couple of people have asked whether we published a Wrap magazine summary of Andy Clarke's keynote presentation at Direction 16. We sure did! In fact, we plan to continue publishing summaries of all of our future conference presentations in the digital-only Wrap magazine. They will also form part of a future venture we have in mind - but we can't say too much about that yet. Note that you can subscribe to Wrap - for free - whether you attend an event or not. So, here's how Wrap summarised Andy's talk.

Art Directing Web Design

Andrew Clarke, Stuff and Nonsense

Direction 16: Andy Clarke

Key points / Takeaways

Andy is a repeat visitor to Australia over many years for Web Directions conferences and workshops. He’s been talking at conferences about his disappointment in the current state of design on the web, and its lack of originality and personality. This is not about nostalgia for how the web used to be, but disappointment we haven’t made it what it could be. Not everyone agrees with Andy’s suggestion that web has been stripped of its soul. Some feel it is only about speed, access and functionality. Andy believes the web is not simply a platform for the digital products. Direction 16: Andy Clarke We’ve forgotten that the web is a medium for communication that’s outside applications. What we do as web professionals should be so much more than just execution. The web should be both a creative melting pot and a proving ground for new ideas. Our infatuation with processes like atomic design and tools like pattern libraries and style guides can mean that sometimes we lose sight of what we’re ultimately making. Art direction can improve what we make for the web. Developers might say art direction is about responsive images, alternative crops, using the picture element to manage image sizing and orientation, but there’s more to web design than tools. Designers might think art direction is about adding images, managing how the page is laid out and which fonts are used, but images and layout and typography are only the result of art direction, not the meaning of it.
"Art direction is the art of distilling an essential, precise meaning or purpose from a piece of content."
Art direction is well established for media like newspapers and magazines, but even they have trouble art directing their content for the web. There are exceptions. Independent, non-profit New York newsroom ProPublica ran an article about a series of rapes and used page layout to establish the different voices of people involved in the story. Another ProPublica article about Mexican drug lord El Chapo used specially commissioned illustrations to communicate violence with an intensity difficult to achieve with photography. Direction 16: Andy Clarke ProPublica’s article Busted focused on false drug arrests and used art direction to emphasise story points, manipulating the size of images and page layout for specific effect. In all three cases, ProPublica’s house style is intact: they use the same fonts on the same grid, they’re visually consistent - but the art directions gives each one its own feel, related directly to the article content. As web designers, we can go beyond the day-to-day of what a company does, and think about what it actually means for people. Art direction is about understanding those messages and then deciding how best to communicate them through the organization and presentation of words and visuals. That applies to the web as much as to magazines. In fact, the basic principles of art direction haven’t changed between print and digital. Typography is absolutely key to a website’s visual identity, because it involves a collaboration between design and content to affect the reader, for example in the way pull quotes are presented to emphasise selected content. Layout tools like Flexbox and CSS Grid enable us to place content like quotes visually, while maintaining appropriate source order. Direction 16: Andy Clarke Varying the size of type can emphasise and help to create focal points that enhance understanding of meaning. Headlines demonstrate hierarchy and signal the importance of content but they can do so much more than just demand attention. Font, size, line height, spacing and positioning can help set content priorities. Paragraphs can be manipulated to stand out. Drop caps can be used to great effect and the space they create can also be used to highlight content.
"The web can be a vibrant medium for creative expression, in just the same way as film, print and other media."
To make inspired design decisions, we need to feel inspired and there’s no better place to start than by looking at designers we admire, especially those from outside the web. Whitespace and columns bring more of an editorial feel to a design. Grid systems allow us to place content on the page just as we want it, but a lack of imagination and knowledge about how to use grid systems creatively limits what we do with them. Design decisions do not have to be based on guesswork. The Golden Ratio - and other ratios - offer mathematical bases for how content is aligned and placed on the page. We can turn 12 into six more manageable columns, like the grid that was the foundation for our redesign of WWF UK’s Fundraising pages. Whether we work mobile first or desktop down, we can make layouts creatively responsive. Combining two grids to create a compound grid is an established design technique that’s rarely used on the web. Irregular shapes can help to draw attention towards parts of the layout and, most importantly, towards calls to action. Direction 16: Andy Clarke We can use CSS shapes to extend a feature image into the content space and then overlay a caption using SVG to create an irregular background. We can use CSS shapes with the ghost of type elements to literally sculpt unusually shaped columns of text. We can use horizontal fields with grids, where the intersection of columns and fields create modular grids, another great way to create imaginative layouts. Figure captions offer readers a meaningful explanation of an image - great for accessibility and SEO - but captions don’t always have to be below an image, nor do they have to be unstyled. Art direction and design and editorial should be equal partners.
"Art direction is essential to creating cohesive experiences across multiple channels."
Strong art direction means trusting the judgement of an individual art director, but we’ve become so risk-averse that our judgement now takes second place to testing. Pattern libraries help designers improve efficiency, and living style guides help maintain better consistency in user experiences and visual identities across channels. A cohesive experience needs more than a guide to a library of patterns, it needs a singular creative vision, and that can come from art direction. Atomic design, pattern libraries and style guides are not incompatible with art direction - they need art direction to make them meaningful. Art direction is the gravity that pulls atoms together. Direction 16: Andy Clarke

Resources

@Malarkey slides website ProPublica (An Unbelievable Story Rape) ProPublica (Devils, Deals and the DEA) ProPublica (Busted) Gridset WWF UK Dalton Maag (typefaces)

Tweets

Direction 16: Andy Clarke Direction 16: Andy Clarke Direction 16: Andy Clarke Direction 16: Andy Clarke Direction 16: Andy Clarke Direction 16: Andy Clarke " ["post_title"]=> string(52) "Direction 16: Art Directing Web Design - Andy Clarke" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(49) "direction-16-art-directing-web-design-andy-clarke" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-04-09 18:46:55" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-09 07:46:55" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7175" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [2]=> object(WP_Post)#985 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7164) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-04-07 12:16:48" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-07 01:16:48" ["post_content"]=> string(2310) "Andy ClarkeSeveral recent Videos of the Week focused on new capabilities in style and layout control, and how they open up opportunities for designers to extend their creative vision on the web. Examples include talks by Stephanie Rewis, Rachel Andrew and Jen Simmons. Well, this week is no different. At Direction 16, Andy Clarke's inspiring keynote Art Directing Web Design not only gave us another stepping stone toward understanding what can be achieved with new techniques, including some mesmerising layout techniques, but also laid a great foundation for our upcoming Respond conference, where this is all taken to yet another level. So enjoy 47 video minutes or so with one of our favourite presenters - I think we worked out that he holds the record for talks and workshops at Web Directions events worldwide - and get warmed up for Respond 17.   Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of Scroll magazine.
" ["post_title"]=> string(57) "Video of the Week: Art directing web design - Andy Clarke" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(47) "video-week-art-directing-web-design-andy-clarke" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-04-07 12:16:48" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-07 01:16:48" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7164" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [3]=> object(WP_Post)#984 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7141) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-04-07 10:00:22" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-06 23:00:22" ["post_content"]=> string(4219) "Respond started life as a "pop-up" single-day conference in Sydney, addressing the specific challenges associated with web design in the age of multi screens. Initially, the focus was very practical and revolved a lot around CSS – and specific responsive patterns – to do with images, navigation on small screens, accessibility on mobile devices, and so on. But front end design has come a long way in the relatively short time since we held that first event, and so Respond has evolved to more broadly address the challenges of designing great experiences. But a central part of this continues to be the technologies we work with to build these experiences – CSS, HTML, SVG, and more. At Respond this year, there'll be more than a little focus on these, though if that's not what you work with every day, there will still be considerable value in gaining a sense of what's possible today in our browsers that you can incorporate into your designs or product roadmaps.   CSS, HTML, SVG at Respond 17   First up, Vitaly Friedman, one of the foremost experts in responsive design and development, will survey the current browser technology landscape, HTTP/2, Service Workers, Responsive Images, Flexbox, SVG and Font Loading APIs, and consider how we can use them to create great experiences. For the more technically inclined, this is a great how-to, while for those who don't live in the code, it's an eye-opener as to what's possible. It's leading edge today, but these will be baseline requirements not too far from now. Rachel Nabors, who knows more about animation on the web than just about anyone, will look at the tools available to create engaging dynamic animated experiences. Again, motion design is already a key principle to master for the emerging web. Mike Riethmuller will look at how type responds to the user's screen size, orientation and resolution – a holy grail of responsive design – and the CSS we need to make it a reality. In a related session, Mandy Michael will look at various features of CSS to help create eye-catching text effects. Brett Snaidero will complement Rachel's presentation by giving us a look at how SVG combined with CSS enables animation with little pain, and no need for complex code. If your primary job is building the front end, and working with CSS, HTML and SVG, there's more than enough here to considerably extend your skill set and inspire you, while if you're focused more on UX, CX, IxD, and Product Design, come and see what tools are now available to create even more compelling experiences.   CSS, HTML, SVG at Respond 17" ["post_title"]=> string(25) "CSS, HTML, SVG at Respond" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(20) "css-html-svg-respond" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-04-06 14:23:38" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-06 03:23:38" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7141" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [4]=> object(WP_Post)#983 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7147) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-04-06 13:26:02" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-06 02:26:02" ["post_content"]=> string(5208) "If you went to one of our conferences in 2016, you will have seen Scroll. Some might think it unusual for a web / digital conference organiser to publish a print magazine. We think it fits. The thing is, we don't see it as a binary option, either/or. This year, we're publishing one Scroll magazine to cover the Respond and Code conferences. Attendees will get a print copy, there will be a digital version, and there will be other ways to get your hands on a copy. This is the first of a series of excerpts that aim to give you a bit of insight into our Respond speakers, and hopefully make you want to read the rest in Scroll.

Rachel Nabors

Respond 17: Rachel Nabors At first glance, a word portrait of Rachel Nabors would be that of a web animation and motion design guru – a highly successful, accomplished web developer and designer with a range of high profile projects to her name, an international reputation as an expert of the highest standing in her field, and in demand for consulting, speaking, writing, courses and workshops. But there is a back story to Rachel’s career that shows it hasn’t always been an easy path for her, one in which a personal crisis forced her to switch from one livelihood to another. That’s not unique, of course – lots of people go through rocky times that change their lives. What makes Rachel’s story so interesting for us is the intersection of web tech and professional creativity.

Award-winning comic artist

  Rachel grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Pennsylvania, USA. After seeing the movie Chasing Amy (a quirky 1997 romantic comedy with young comic artists as the main characters) when she was 14, Rachel started creating her own comics. By the age of 17, Rachel was focusing seriously on comics. She was getting freelance work with gURL.com, and then a weekly contract. When she was 19, she self-published her first graphic novel, 18 Revolutions, and comics were helping her out of rural poverty. Another graphic novel and mini comics followed, and Rachel won several awards for her work. An interview she gave to Silver Bullet Comics in 2006 is still available via the Wayback Machine:
“I spent a lot of time learning [Adobe] Photoshop and Illustrator before putting together 18 Revolutions. One of the handy things about being home schooled was that my curriculum was very flexible. During my last few years of education, I was able to focus on practicing with software. I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to get my books to stores. I remember securing an order for 18 Revolutions from a chain bookstore only to learn that I had to locate an approved distributor who would not only carry graphic novels but who also would work with a self-publisher. It was utter madness, so I decided to stick to a strictly online sales model.”
If you’d like to explore Rachel’s comics work, she maintains an archive at her Rachel the Great website. Respond 17: Rachel Nabors In working on comics – not just drawing and writing them, but also marketing them and distributing them online, Rachel was acquiring a skill set that would become useful in other ways. In a 2016 interview for Origin (“an interview series on how awesome women in tech got their start”), Rachel said,
“What I didn’t realize was that the web was actively replacing print publishing, and that the skills I was using to share my comics were about to become the new lingua franca.”
And a little further along,
“I’d always loved Flash animations, and I secretly hoped that one day I’d be able to make my comic a cartoon. So when Flash died, I was a bit sad that that was the end of that. But I was learning and using JavaScript, and when one day I found myself reading the CSS Animations spec, I realized I could make animations with the tools I already knew so well!”
But. Then.   That's the end of this excerpt from Scroll magazine. Come and see Rachel and the rest of the amazing line-up at Respond 17 in May." ["post_title"]=> string(40) "Respond 17 Scroll Excerpt: Rachel Nabors" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(39) "respond-17-scroll-excerpt-rachel-nabors" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-04-06 13:26:02" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-06 02:26:02" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7147" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [5]=> object(WP_Post)#982 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7142) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-04-05 12:56:13" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-05 01:56:13" ["post_content"]=> string(3312) "Jessica Claire EdwardsThis week's Video Ristretto has the full title of Farewell Photoshop: Advanced CSS Image Techniques, which sums up presenter Jessica Claire Edwards' contention at Respond 16 that it's possible to do with CSS what could previously be achieved only with a sophisticated image editing program. Whether that means you can get rid of Photoshop altogether is probably another question. What's not in doubt is that in just 18 minutes, Jessica demonstrates a remarkable array of CSS options for image management. Used in combination, they certainly give designers and developers an unprecedented level of control from within the stylesheet.  

Got your ticket for 2017 yet?

For Respond 17, we've put together a truly remarkable two-day program of international and local speakers digging into front end design and development, that we're taking in full to Sydney (4-5 May) and Melbourne (8-9 May), with a special trip to Brisbane as well (12 May). Come and join us!  

Want more?

Like to see and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once-a-week mailing list to keep up with everything happening at Web Directions. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of Scroll magazine.
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You might have noticed a (significant) uptick in content from us in recent months - video, interviews, profiles, articles. Hopefully you've noticed Scroll and Wrap, our pre and post event publications. All of which are essentially due to Ricky Onsman. Ricky has been coming to our events, pretty much every one, since we started. Last year we started talking about where we wanted to take Web Directions, and one of the answers to how we were going to get there was right in front of us all this time.

This piece Ricky wrote for his own blog, but we really wanted to publish it here!

By Ricky Onsman

Vitaly Friedman workshops I am genuinely – perhaps unreasonably – excited that I will be attending Vitaly Friedman’s Masterclass workshop at the Respond conference next month. In the last 20 years, I have attended a lot of workshops. Many of those focused on web technologies and skills and they’ve included sessions led by people like Vitaly (in 2015), Andrew Clarke (several times), Elliot Jay Stocks, Ethan Marcotte & Karen McGrane, Mark Boulton, Jared Spool & Dana Chisnell, and at least a dozen more. I’ve also done a lot of other workshops focused on tangentially related subjects including business planning, book-keeping, freelancing, writing, specific software, editing, speaking, home networks and PC maintenance. Each of those has been a real boon to my work and my business, and their lessons have stayed with me, all from a day or a half-day each. I’ve written previously that workshops are one of the three main arms of my ongoing professional development, the other two being books and conferences. Since then, it’s fair to say that video has increased its role in my ongoing self-directed training, especially in series covering topics like new developments in CSS. What those four options have in common is easy, direct and relatively inexpensive access to the thoughts, skills and experience of people who do what I do but are a lot better at it, in one way or another. With books and video, of course, you don’t get direct contact. Even in conferences, your contact with the expert is likely to be limited to a quick question at afternoon tea or in the pub later. Workshops are different. You’re in a room about the size of a classroom with 20 or so other people. The workshop leader usually doesn’t need amplification and can, if they wish, walk among you. They will typically use visual aids and may have physical props. They are, largely, accessible to you, and you can interact with them. However. In my experience, there are three distinct types of workshop, and the differences relate primarily to the level of interactivity with the workshop leader, and how much (or how little) the participants are expected (or allowed) to do. The Lecture The first kind isn’t really a workshop at all, despite what it says in the advertising material. There’s no interactivity with the participants, except for maybe a question-and-answer session at the end. The workshop leader basically give attendees a series of lectures, about one hour in length, with breaks in between. You’ll get two lectures in a half-day workshop and four in a full day. Let me be clear – sometimes, this is the perfect format. It’s a bit like watching a live action video, but sometimes that’s just what you want. The workshop on book-keeping I went to was like that, and it worked. Mr Parker used PowerPoint slides to illustrate his talks and we received a printed “manual” at the end. Two sessions of one hour plus 10 minutes Q&A for each session was a morning very well spent. The Seminar The second kind of workshop is more like a group seminar. These tend to be full-day workshops where the leader is perhaps not completely confident they have a full day’s worth of material, so they’ve built in an element of “But enough about me – what’s your story?” The workshop leader makes it clear at the start that they can be interrupted at any time with questions, the more questions the better. They also insist that they are not experts, just working practitioners like you who hope to learn as much from you as you learn from them. There is a loose structure of sessions and breaks, but we don’t have to be too strict about that, let’s see how it goes. The leaders know their stuff incredibly well, of course, and they show you lots of examples of their work and others', and they take you through how they came to know what they know, and what they do with it, and what you can do with that knowledge. The workshop leaders do their best to involve every participant – verbally – during the course of the day. They tend to leave you not with any physical takeaways but a lot of links. You will have been advised that laptops are welcome at the workshop but not compulsory. The most use your device will actually get will be pointing your browser to a suggested useful resource. Again, let me emphasise that I do not object to this approach. I have had some lovely, friendly and genuinely productive days that follow this format. My third kind of workshop is what I would call a workshop. The Workshop In this kind, the room has desks or table space of some kind for participants, with access to a sufficient number of convenient electrical outlets. Laptops are mandatory and suggestions may be offered as to preferred browser or other software. The workshop leader has supplied pencils, paper, post-it notes, highlighters – not just props, but tools for the participants. Tools at a workshop – who’d have thought? The screen that displays the workshop leader’s laptop is high enough, large enough and crisp enough that it is both visible and legible. The equipment works. The wifi works. The air conditioning works. The workshop leader explains the structure of the day, that the breaks will be quite short and the sessions long, “because we have a lot to get through”, and adds that it’s possible we might run over time. Each session features the workshop leader explaining some aspect of their topic and then involving the workshop participants in an activity that illustrates or highlights the point. If it’s a piece of code, you have to write the code and render it in your browser for that satisfying “aha” moment. You might be asked to show the result of your activity to your neighbour – no hiding, here. You might be asked to form into a group with your nearest neighbours and come up with a way of doing something. Tip: the quiet one will be the one that cracks it. The workshop leader might ask a general question and when you offer your answer they say come up here and show me what you mean and you have to use their laptop so it goes on the big screen. And the leader says, “I’ll have to think about that. Thank you.” And the workshop leader might say, “I need three volunteers – you, you and you. Saves time that way.” And you all laugh, and the workshop leader says, “Oh, you’ll all be up here before the day is out”. And you are. The day is long and yet passes by in a flash. You reach the scheduled finish time, and no-one leaves. You reach half an hour past the scheduled finish time, and one person really does have to leave, they really don’t want to, and they’re sorry. An hour past the scheduled finish time, the workshop leader says we need to wrap it up.  And you’re disappointed. That is a workshop. That was Vitaly’s workshop on state of the art responsive design in 2015. I can hardly wait for this next one. Originally published at: http://www.onsman.com/workshops/" ["post_title"]=> string(22) "A Word About Workshops" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(11) "workshops-2" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-04-04 14:23:35" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-04 03:23:35" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7134" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [7]=> object(WP_Post)#980 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7130) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-03-31 12:52:51" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-31 01:52:51" ["post_content"]=> string(1984) "Stephanie RewisRecent browser support for CSS Grid Layout has attracted much attention for offering new web layout options, and this has also put the spotlight on another modern and complementary way to control layout: Flexbox. As it happens, the same Code 16 conference which saw Rachel Andrew explain CSS Grid to us also featured Stephanie Rewis, Lead Developer on Design Systems at Salesforce UX, deliver an equally rivetting, mind-spinning and mouth-watering talk on what can be achieved with Flexbox. That's our Video of the Week this week, and I heartily recommend you find 50 minutes or so to give it a look. Actually, leave a little bit more time, because you WILL find yourself stopping to make notes and follow links. Hope you enjoy it.   Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of Scroll magazine.
" ["post_title"]=> string(94) "Video of the Week: Flexing your layout muscles - a pragmatic look at Flexbox - Stephanie Rewis" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(72) "video-week-flexing-layout-muscles-pragmatic-look-flexbox-stephanie-rewis" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-03-31 12:52:51" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-31 01:52:51" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7130" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [8]=> object(WP_Post)#979 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7124) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-03-29 11:01:42" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-29 00:01:42" ["post_content"]=> string(2647) "Our best Respond 17 Early Bird deals end this Friday. Something that often gets overlooked is how Early Bird prices can add great value to the upper end of ticket prices. For example, a Classic Pass to Respond at regular prices costs $1,199. A Gold Pass bought before 31 March (this Friday), costs $1,299. For that extra $100, you get to attend the Speaker Dinner (the chance to chat informally over a classy meal) AND access to videos of every single conference presentation (only available to other folks by subscription). Think about that while you consider which pricing deal works best for you. Note that there is a second Early Bird - a slightly lesser discount - that holds until Friday 14 April. But to get the absolute best deal for attending Respond 17, register before this Friday 31 March. Respond is an event you won't find anywhere else, bringing together the whole front end team to address the challenge of delivering engaging customer experiences. This year, Respond comes to Sydney (4-5 May), Melbourne (8-9 May) and - for the first time - Brisbane (12 May).   Who's speaking? Mina Markham (Senior UI Engineer, Hillary for America) on design systems Rachel Nabors (Program Manager, Microsoft Edge; W3C) on web animation Vitaly Friedman (Founder, Smashing Magazine) on responsive design Elizabeth Allen (UX Researcher, Spotify) on conversational interactions Cordelia McGee-Tubb (Accessibility Specialist, Dropbox) on accessible web development Plus Rebecca Hendry (Westpac), Michael Taranto (Seek), Adem Cifcioglu (Intopia), Mike Riethmuller, Mandy Michael (Seven West Media), Brett Snaidero (Internetrix), Wayne Thompson (Australian Type Foundry), Mike Sharp, Shefik Bey (Loop11), Laura Summer, Warwick Cox (Crowd Delivery). Respond happens every year, but THIS line-up of speakers on THESE topics is only going to come along this year. We hope we see you and your team at Respond 17. " ["post_title"]=> string(42) "Respond 17 Early Bird Discount Ends Friday" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(42) "respond-17-early-bird-discount-ends-friday" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-03-29 11:01:42" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-29 00:01:42" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7124" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [9]=> object(WP_Post)#978 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7115) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-03-28 11:10:49" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-28 00:10:49" ["post_content"]=> string(3678) "Two days of Transform 17 starts in Canberra tomorrow with a sold out day of workshops followed by a full day of talks focused on the ongoing transformation of government services. As our last warmup, we have one more presentation from Transform 16 to get you in the mood. Monica Ritz from South Australia's Office for Digital Government gave a terrific talk about spending time on secondment with the (then) Digital Transformation Office before taking ideas and processes back to her State department. Here's how we summarise it in Wrap magazine.

A Digital Transformation Story

Monica Ritz SA Office for Digital Government

Monica Ritz

Key points

Six weeks secondment with the DTO changed everything, including a true understanding of agile and of user-centred design. Government knows processes, policies, legislations but they never use the services so how do they know what their users need? The SA government is implementing the Digital Service Standards on a tight timeframe and it will be difficult. DTO is showing that agile is a culture, not a methodology tacked on.
"Agile is a culture and not scrums and stand-up."
Transform 16: Monica Ritz

Takeaways

The people who face the problem hold the key to the answers and we need to develop empathy and it’s got to be the whole team. Resolve a problem, don’t just present a solution. Resolution requires understanding the problem. An example: women prisoners were not applying for bail and it was thought the form was the problem. It turned out the form wasn’t the problem - the women had their own reasons for not wanting to apply for bail. The mantras we’re hearing: continuous improvement, taking feedback, user research, multidisciplinary teams, agile and user-centred approach - they all involve big changes for SA government. Transparency and teamwork go together - make everything open. Transform 16: Monica Ritz

Caveats

You have to show the benefits of transformation. Metrics become important. You have to be able to fail, not to celebrate your failures but to learn from them. The biggest challenge is getting staff to not just acknowledge but truly understand user-centred design. Authority and support has to come from the top down. Transform 16: Monica Ritz

Resources

@sagovau website

Tweets

Transform 16: Monica Ritz Transform 16: Monica Ritz" ["post_title"]=> string(58) "Transform 16: A Digital Transformation Story - Monica Ritz" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(53) "transform-16-digital-transformation-story-monica-ritz" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-03-28 11:11:03" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-28 00:11:03" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7115" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [10]=> object(WP_Post)#977 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7108) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-03-27 13:30:14" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-27 02:30:14" ["post_content"]=> string(3954) "Transform 17 kicks off this week in Canberra (workshop Wednesday 29/3, conference Thursday 30/3) and it looks like it might just as compelling as last year's event. One of the aspects of Transform 16 that was especially pleasing was the range of perspectives represented by the speakers, including how the digital transformation of government information and services was going in different parts of the country, as well as from overseas. At the time, Ann Combe was Executive Director, Communications and Marketing Bureau, Department of the Chief Minister, Northern Territory and reported to the conference on transformation progress in Australia's top end, a region that has some very specific characteristics and needs. Here's our Wrap magazine summary.

NT.GOV.AU, a Case Study

Ann Combe, Department of the Chief Minister, NT

Ann Combe

Key points

The Northern Territory’s whole of government website, nt.gov.au, was launched on 21 April 2016. The plan was to put all customer-facing information in one place, leaving individual agency websites to focus on corporate information. Digital strategy was particularly informed by the need to reach remote and indigenous communities. To be customer-focused, information would be organised by topic rather than organisation structure. The plan was to go live topic by topic over a three year period. When the first topic was demonstrated, it was decided to make the whole site live within nine months. A team of editors and subeditors was recruited to rewrite 5,000 pages of content, along with technical expertise in content management and search systems.
"We were ready with the site on time and on budget, but it was really, really hard work."
Transform 16: NT govt website

Takeaways

Dealing with government should primarily be through digital channels. Customers see government as one organisation and expect to be able to interact with it digitally when, where and how they wish. Be customer centric. Learn and improve through customer feedback. Content and features must be easy to find and easy to use. Customers must be confident in the security and privacy of their interaction online. Engage stakeholders early, often and with respect. Transform 16: crocodile map

Caveats

Make sure dedicated project management resources are allocated - this is not something that business-as-usual staff should be doing. Conduct extensive user testing to inform design. Never underestimate the challenges of change management. Build a solid foundation to support future innovation and improvements. Challenges remain, like embedding the new editorial techniques into agency websites. Transform 16: Ann Combe

Tweets

Transform 16: tweets " ["post_title"]=> string(48) "Transform 16: NT.GOV.AU a case study - Ann Combe" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(43) "transform-16-nt-gov-au-case-study-ann-combe" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-03-27 13:20:28" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-27 02:20:28" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7108" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [11]=> object(WP_Post)#976 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7033) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-03-24 12:00:00" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-24 01:00:00" ["post_content"]=> string(5707) "Those of us who work in Web and the digital arena don't have to be reminded that our fields are constantly updating. Whether it's underlying technologies, or broad strategic practices, what was cutting edge last year is often common practice this year, and out of date the next. Both in terms of our own professional development and the impact our work has on our company, organisation or clients, we all strive to keep up to date. But it's no shortcoming to say that's a lot of work. For many years, our primary focus at Web Directions has been to help our audience of professional practitioners in the Web and digital fields keep up to date. We spend our lives keeping track of the technologies, practices, and ideas that are shaping our fields, and we bring them to you via articles, newsletters, podcasts, and of course our conferences and workshops. All with the aim of helping you do your job as best as you can. But with the expansion of our conferences over the last couple of years, it's not as easy as simply coming to our big end of year conference anymore. By breaking out that one, multi-track behemoth into a number of more focused events, our aim is to deliver the best possible event for various groups of professionals within the industry. Here's a breakdown of each event, who it's for, and how you and your team will benefit from attending.

Respond: for the front end design team

Increasingly great customer experiences are delivered by multi-disciplinary teams. Respond is designed to reflect that reality, with in-depth content for Interaction Designers, UX and CX professionals, UI Engineers - along with high-level, strategic thinking relevant to the whole front end design team. Where else can you see people of the calibre of Mina Markham, the lead of the front end design efforts at the Hillary for America Campaign, world leader in web animation Rachel Nabors, or Elizabeth Allen, working at the forefront of conversation interfaces wth Shopify? All curated by John Allsopp, cited by Ethan Marcotte, inventor of Responsive Web Design, as a key inspiration for the ideas that became RWD.
Our promise
Respond delivers actionable insights on current best practice in front end design in the broadest sense, in two super condensed days, in three cities. Cut down on travel time and expense, and invest a small fraction of your working year getting out in front of current trends.

Code: the JavaScript and front end engineering conference

Progressive Web Apps were first publicly talked about by their inventor Alex Russell at Code. Object Oriented CSS (OOCSS) was launched on the world at another of our events. We've been tracking trends in the technologies of the Web since the early 1990s, and then bringing these ideas to our community at events and elsewhere since the early days of the Web. Code focuses on the fundamental building blocks of great Web experiences: JavaScript, CSS, Browser APIs - alongside best practices in performance, security, and software engineering for the Web. We believe it's a unique event, not just within Australia, but globally. And like Respond, Code is visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane this year, in late July and early August.
Our promise
Code helps front end engineers deliver faster, more secure, more maintainable code that taps into the latest capabilities of the Web platform, which all adds up to the best possible customer experience. Cut down on travel time and expense, and invest a small fraction of your working year getting out in front of current trends.

Direction: the intersection of design, technology and big picture thinking

Last year we re-launched our Web Directions conference as Direction, to reflect the changes in our overall approach to delivering the best possible events to help you develop professionally. But, if Respond focuses on front end design, and Code on front end engineering, what does Direction focus on? Direction is about the bigger picture (just as it always was as Web Directions). Two days of keynote-style presentations that help you chart a way forward, think about medium term trends in technology, in user experience, in interaction design. Direction helps you think about where your the work you do, and your career will go over the next few years. The Web will always be at the heart of our events - including Direction - since the Web, we believe, will continue to be the medium for delivering the best possible user experiences in the great majority of cases. But as machine learning, AI and conversational interfaces impact on the sorts of experiences we deliver to our users, as computing power disseminates into almost every object, and as these and other developments affect business and society profoundly, we believe it's important to give deep consideration to these challenges and opportunities, not with breathless hype, but as we've always done, through the insights of people who spend their lives thinking about these things.
Our promise
We'll separate the hype of emerging trends in technology, design, and strategic thinking from actionable reality. We'll bring you deep thinkers who are working with these ideas and technologies, not simply taking about them. And we'll help you make the right decisions in harnessing the opportunities of a world that seems to be in a constant state of flux. Direction 16" ["post_title"]=> string(43) "Plan Your Professional Development for 2017" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(43) "plan-your-professional-development-for-2017" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-03-24 12:16:29" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-24 01:16:29" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7033" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [12]=> object(WP_Post)#975 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7088) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-03-24 10:00:54" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-23 23:00:54" ["post_content"]=> string(1834) "Now that it has support in browsers like Chrome and Firefox, CSS Grid is being recognised as the gamechanger it is for front end designers and developers. That support has only come this month, but those who attended our Code 16 conference in July/August last year have been preparing for its advent ever since, thanks in large part to the detailed, pragmatic and quite inspiring talk given on the topic by Rachel Andrew, who can reasonably lay claim to knowing more about CSS Grid than anyone on the planet. The video of that talk, CSS Grid Layout, is our Video of the Week, and I heartily recommend you set aside 50 minutes or so to find out what all the fuss is about and get to grips with how you can use CSS Grid to your best advantage.   Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of Scroll magazine.
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Well, we're just one week away from our first conference of the year, Transform 17 in Canberra on 30 March. It looks like we'll have pretty close to a full house - at last count, there were just a couple of dozen conference tickets still available. The Workshop day with Dan Sheldon and Sarah Atkinson on 29 March is sold out, so it's going to be a massive two days. We've been particularly gratified at how many of last year's attendees are joining us again this year.

 Who's speaking at Transform 17?

The fact is, even since last year's Transform conference, things have moved on in the world of transforming government service delivery, in some ways at a very hectic pace and affecting some very basic assumptions (see my recent article Transforming Policy and Delivery). Wew've put together a line-up of speakers covering topics that will most directly and profoundly change the way we all look at government service delivery. The transformation continues, and Transform is there to help show the way forward. Ben Holliday, UK DWP Dan Sheldon, UK GDS Ariel Kennan, NYC Mayor's Office Sarah Atkinson, Pragmateam Stewart Hay, Intopia Jenny Hunter, Head of Digital, BOM Brian Dargan & Luke Hymers, Mentally Friendly Catherine Thompson, DTA Belinda Kellar, DSITI
Register to Transform 17
  As Australia’s premier conference on digital service delivery in government, you will have access to practitioners and thought-leaders working in digital transformation from around the globe. If you work in this area, the Transform conference is a major avenue of professional development for you. You'll find detailed descriptions of the schedule, the speakers and their presentations at the Transform website.  
" ["post_title"]=> string(28) "1 Week Out from Transform 17" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(28) "1-week-out-from-transform-17" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-03-23 21:18:49" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-23 10:18:49" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7099" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [14]=> object(WP_Post)#1279 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7081) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-03-23 10:00:50" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-22 23:00:50" ["post_content"]=> string(14211) "When we held our inaugural Transform conference in Canberra last year from 18-19 May, we didn't realise it would coincide with Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 19 May. Once we knew, we decided to organise a small event to celebrate. There is, of course, a great crossover and overlap between the concepts of government digital service delivery transformation and digital accessibility. The lack of accessibility to people with particular access needs in much of how government makes information available to citizens is precisely the reason a transformation is needed. One of our international keynote Transform speakers, Dana Chisnell, as well as driving change as a Design Researcher (then) at the US Digital Service, had also much experience in analysing and advocating for accessibility for people with disabilities to public facilities such as voting at elections, and agreed to speak. That kicked off an evening that also featured Andrew Arch, a long-time Australian accessibility advocate working within Government and more recently a key recruit for the (then) Digital Transformation Office, as well as local disability and accessibility advocates. Here's how Ricky Onsman and Jacinta Cali reported on it for Wrap magazine.

Transforming Accessibility

Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day

This first Transform conference, which focused on how governments can improve the way they provide online services to all citizens, happened to share its May 19 date with Global Accessibility Awareness Day. So that’s several hundred designers, front end developers, information architects, user experience specialists, content producers and project managers with a focus on digital government information services coming together from around the country on just the day nominated to draw worldwide attention to web accessibility for people with disabilities. In late 2011, US developer Joe Devon floated the idea of day on which web developers across the globe would try to raise awareness and knowhow on making websites accessible. Among other accessibility professionals who expressed support, Jennison Asuncion set to work with Joe to make GAAD a reality. Since 2012, events have been held around the world that have changed the way devs and designers think and act with regard to accessibility, and profiling the many efforts made to make the web accessible to people with disabilities. Many events aim to put accessibility into context for the people who build the web, like trying to use websites blindfolded or without a mouse. In Australia, A11y Bytes has been organising GAAD events first in Sydney, then adding Melbourne and Perth in subsequent years. These have taken the form of public meetups with short talks on accessibility topics, and have definitely helped web professionals rethink their approach to accessibility. For the last few years, the date for GAAD has been set as the third Thursday in May. In 2016, that was 19 May. The day of the Transform conference itself was already packed with activity, and the evening would see many people heading home and others attending organised post-conference events. But the day before the conference was the day on which US usability experts Dana Chisnell and Jared Spool held their Canberra workshop Deconstructing Delight, a Transform event held at the same venue. The Web Directions team recruited the support of the A11y Bytes folks and members of the Digital Transformation Office involved with the conference (who include, rightly, some of the best web accessibility talent in this country) to co-present Transforming Accessibility, “an opportunity to connect with the broader accessibility and digital communities in Canberra, in honour of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.” It was a good turnout for a chilly Canberra evening, with local disability activists and community representatives mixing with accessibility specialists and buzzy and excited workshop attendees. Excellent snacks and drinks helped warm the atmosphere in the former Members Bar and Lounge of Old Parliament House, as Web Directions founder John Allsopp welcomed everyone and introduced four speakers. Transform 16: Transforming Accessibility While Dana Chisnell was at Transform in her role as Design Researcher at the US Digital Service, talking about the transformation of online government services underway in America, and was co-delivering the workshop with Jared (possibly the best credentialled and most polished user experience tag team ever), her professional history also goes back to some extremely significant research into the needs of people with age-related impairments and disabilities that went on to inform the development of the W3C’s Web Accessibility Content Guidelines. A11y cred ++ Dana spoke eloquently and warmly about an understanding of accessibility that is becoming increasingly powerful: that it’s not about adding things on to compensate for inaccessibility - it’s about not building in the obstacles to access in the first place and, where those obstacles have been built in, removing them. This applies as much to the relatively young world of the web as it does to the physical world of bricks and mortar. They are both built environments that should not - and do not need to - exclude people with specific access needs. A focus of Dana’s professional experience (and personal ongoing interest) is the usability of the electoral experience and ensuring that it allows for the participation of all citizens. Her story about personally supporting the participation of people as voters who had always assumed they were excluded from this most basic of citizens’ rights was moving and inspiring, not least for the simplicity of the solution - make it easy for everyone. Transform 16: Transforming Accessibility Dr Andrew Arch is an Australian pioneer of web accessibility, having built Vision Australia’s accessibility training services in the early 2000s, then working in France and the UK with the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative, and returning here to work with the Australian Government Information Management Office on making government websites accessible through the National Transition Strategy. He is now Lead, Accessibility, Diversity, Assisted Digital for the game-changing Digital Transformation Office. Andrew spoke of Australia’s strong track record of involvement in web accessibility initiatives over the years, how accessibility intersects with the information needs of so many people in the community and how the DTO is working to make government information online more accessible to the whole community, including people who have disabilities. Australia is part of a global movement that acknowledges government information services have become increasingly complex, and need to be made more accessible. Andrew affirmed that there is much to be done in this area but also that progress is being made, with the critical factor of awareness being assisted by events like GAAD. Transform 16: Transforming Accessibility Robert Altamore is Executive Officer of People with Disabilities ACT, the peak disability advocacy body in the territory. His personal experience of disability, his years of involvement with Blind Citizens Australia and his participation in key advocacy initiatives in Australia have left him well placed to observe and comment on both the positive steps that have been taken and the need for much more to be done. The web represents a brave new world of information sharing, and it is critical that everything is done to ensure that people with disabilities are not only not excluded from it, but are actively empowered by it. Sue Salthouse was until 2012 President of Women with Disabilities Australia, the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia. She continues to be an active advocate for women’s rights and the rights of people with disability, and was made Canberra Citizen of the Year in 2015. Like Robert, Sue drew attention to the expected positive impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, but reminded us all that there is much work yet to be done before we see the full potential of the NDIS for changing the lives of people with disability. Sue also drew attention to the terrible statistics around violence toward women that are often compounded for women with disabilities. The sum effect of the four speakers was to acknowledge that the web has enormous potential to benefit people with disabilities, but that will only happen if we make sure the web is accessible, particularly in the areas of government services and information so critical for people who require support. It was an inspiring, thought-provoking evening that left the web professionals present with a clearer awareness of what they have the potential to achieve through an accessible web. We asked Jacinta Cali, Director of Website Projects for digital agency Internetrix, what she thought of the evening. Transform 16: Jacinta Cali GAAD is so important Websites, software and mobile apps all have plenty in common: they want to be inclusive, easy to use and inviting. Still, so many of us are releasing new sites into the market with little or no care for digital accessibility. Not everyone who shapes the web knows just how important accessibility is and I believe it’s simply due to lack of awareness. Thankfully, we have Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) which is an important event aimed at doing just that - raising awareness. On the eve of the first ever Transform conference in Canberra, I attended Transforming Accessibility which celebrated GAAD. GAAD aims to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility. At Transforming Accessibility, we heard from inspirational speakers who educated us about what is at stake when we talk about accessibility. What I found so great was just how many people there were passionate about creating an inclusive web. What I learned was everyone has a need and a basic right to access the sites we create. Visitors to a website, including those with disabilities, can become excluded from its content in different ways that take just a little thought to remedy. As digital creators, we are responsible for delivering an accessible experience to all users. In 2016, awareness of accessibility in tech is increasing, but not everyone knows how to start or where to find knowledge on accessibility. GAAD aims to provide people in digital with the know-how for creating accessible sites and to educate related communities that influence technology. As digital creators there are some easy ways we can make sites more accessible. Here’s a few things you can do to make your sites better: Don’t disable zoom. Pixel perfect is so 2004. Ultimately it’s really bad for your visitors. Check out the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 section 1.4.4. Avoid bitmapped captcha images. Opt for non-interactive mechanisms to check for spam or other invalid content. Make downloadable files accessible. The files you embed on your website also need to be WCAG 2.0 compliant. Use focus styles. If you find focus {outline: none;} somewhere in your style sheet then remove it. Build a content style that removes jargon, using clear and simple language. Have meaningful Alternative (Alt) Text. Not too short, not a duplicate of the title and not too long (about 8 - 10 words is good). Making these changes gives a wider spread of the community, such as those with disabilities and seniors, the ability to join in with digital life. This is social inclusion in action. GAAD raises awareness for digital shapers to produce sites that are more usable for a wider audience, meeting compliance standards, and improving the quality of life for users so that the hard things in life are a bit easier. For more information on how to make your site accessible check out http://a11yproject.com/resources.html or get in touch with A11Y Bytes.    " ["post_title"]=> string(40) "Transform 16: Transforming Accessibility" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(39) "transform-16-transforming-accessibility" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-03-19 15:43:16" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-03-19 04:43:16" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=7081" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } } ["post_count"]=> int(15) ["current_post"]=> int(-1) ["in_the_loop"]=> bool(false) ["post"]=> object(WP_Post)#987 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(7198) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-04-11 10:00:07" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-04-10 23:00:07" ["post_content"]=> string(6847) "This week's extract from the Scroll magazine published with our Respond 17 conference focuses on keynote speaker Mina Markham. During the 2016 US presidential campaign, Mina spent most of her time building and refining Pantsuit, the design system that powered many of the applications hosted on hillaryclinton.com. In her Respond 17 talk, Styling Hillary: A Design System for all Americans , Mina will share successes and failures from nearly two years at Hillary for America, including creating CSS architecture and implementing a redesign of the main website. Here's part of her profile in Scroll.

Mina Markham

Coding a Pantsuit

Interview for Communication Arts, 2016. Respond 17: Mina Markham How did you first get started in front-end development and interactive design? My interest can be traced back to my high school journalism class. I was on the newspaper staff, and part of my role, in addition to writing, was to design the layout for articles. I realized that I enjoyed laying out articles more than writing them. I loved discovering new ways to visually represent the stories I had written. That was pretty telling for me. Once I got into print design, it was a natural evolution to interactive design, and from there, into front-end development. How did you learn the necessary skills? I have a formal design education from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. My time there helped me develop an aesthetic and understanding of what makes good design. I worked in print design and advertising for about five years before I made the switch. During that time, I was also working on interactive projects for freelance clients, teaching myself what I needed to know for each project. I did this by reading blogs, tutorials and books, attending conferences, and studying other people’s work. Viewing the source code of my favorite websites was, and still is, a big part of my learning process. It was a lot of trial and error—but mostly errors. I used the online technology schools Treehouse and Code School to do interactive code challenges. The CSS resource website CSS-Tricks is a godsend. CodePen is great for seeing examples of various front-end techniques. Chris Coyier is my unofficial professor of the Internet. I also love reading the blogs of front-end web developers Sara Soueidan and Una Kravets. The book collection A Book Apart is great for deep dives on single topics. And some favorite conferences are the Front Porch Conference, the Front-End Design Conference and the CSS Dev Conf. Respond 17: Mina Markham What led you to join Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign as a senior software engineer? A friend of mine worked for Obama in 2012, and when the time came to build a technology team for Secretary Clinton’s campaign, my friend suggested me. I hadn’t worked in politics before, so this was not something that would have occurred to me. Once I realized the potential impact I could have, it was too good to pass up. Not many people get handed an opportunity to be a part of history. What were the greatest challenges of creating Pantsuit, Hillary for America’s internal design system? Ideally, when creating a design system, you build it in tandem with the product it powers so they can both grow and adapt as needed. Initially, the biggest challenge was that I was locked into an existing design. The first version of Pantsuit was written as a one-to-one interface parity with the donation platform at the time. So I had to figure out a way to rewrite all the underlying code powering the design, without making any visual changes. This type of code refactor isn’t unusual, but doing so at the scale and speed required—and creating a design system in the process—was a unique challenge. One of the requirements of a system like Pantsuit is modularity. To achieve this, I had to take the existing patterns I saw and anticipate how they might be used in a different context. Each design was broken down into smaller pieces that could be rearranged into a new pattern. As I was building the pieces of Pantsuit, I was using those pieces to create a new, yet identical, version of the donations platform. Sometimes, I would find that I was too broad in my definition of a pattern or module and would have to rethink my approach. For both versions of Pantsuit, I created an interface inventory of each design. I printed copies of each user flow and cut out pieces of the design. I tried to get as granular with the interface as possible: buttons, form inputs, typographic treatments, navigational elements, etc. Afterwards, I grouped similar pieces together to see if they could be consolidated. For example, narrowing down buttons to two sizes or simplifying the color palette. This process made the code more consistent and easier to mix and match into new patterns. Respond 17: Mina Markham That's the end of this excerpt from Scroll magazine. Come and see Mina and the rest of the amazing line-up at Respond 17 in May. 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Posts by

Respond 17 Scroll Excerpt: Mina Markham

This week’s extract from the Scroll magazine published with our Respond 17 conference focuses on keynote speaker Mina Markham.

During the 2016 US presidential campaign, Mina spent most of her time building and refining Pantsuit, the design system that powered many of the applications hosted on … Read more »

Direction 16: Art Directing Web Design – Andy Clarke

Following on from our Video of the Week on Friday, a couple of people have asked whether we published a Wrap magazine summary of Andy Clarke‘s keynote presentation at Direction 16. We sure did!

In fact, we plan to continue publishing summaries of all of our future conference presentations … Read more »

Video of the Week: Art directing web design – Andy Clarke

Andy ClarkeSeveral recent Videos of the Week focused on new capabilities in style and layout control, and how they open up opportunities for designers to extend their creative vision on the web.

Examples include talks by Stephanie Rewis, Rachel … Read more »

CSS, HTML, SVG at Respond

Respond started life as a “pop-up” single-day conference in Sydney, addressing the specific challenges associated with web design in the age of multi screens.

Initially, the focus was very practical and revolved a lot around CSS – and specific responsive patterns – to do with images, navigation on small screens, accessibility … Read more »

Respond 17 Scroll Excerpt: Rachel Nabors

If you went to one of our conferences in 2016, you will have seen Scroll. Some might think it unusual for a web / digital conference organiser to publish a print magazine. We think it fits. The thing is, we don’t see it as a binary option, either/or.

This … Read more »

Video Ristretto: Advanced CSS Image Techniques – Jessica Claire Edwards

Jessica Claire EdwardsThis week’s Video Ristretto has the full title of Farewell Photoshop: Advanced CSS Image Techniques, which sums up presenter Jessica Claire Edwards’ contention at Respond 16 that it’s possible to do with CSS what could previously … Read more »

A Word About Workshops

You might have noticed a (significant) uptick in content from us in recent months – video, interviews, profiles, articles. Hopefully you’ve noticed Scroll and Wrap, our pre and post event publications. All of which are essentially due to Ricky Onsman. Ricky has been coming to our events, … Read more »

Video of the Week: Flexing your layout muscles – a pragmatic look at Flexbox – Stephanie Rewis

Stephanie RewisRecent browser support for CSS Grid Layout has attracted much attention for offering new web layout options, and this has also put the spotlight on another modern and complementary way to control layout: Flexbox.

As it happens, the same Code … Read more »

Respond 17 Early Bird Discount Ends Friday

Our best Respond 17 Early Bird deals end this Friday. Something that often gets overlooked is how Early Bird prices can add great value to the upper end of ticket prices.

For example, a Classic Pass to Respond at regular prices costs $1,199. A Gold Pass bought before 31 March … Read more »

Transform 16: A Digital Transformation Story – Monica Ritz

Two days of Transform 17 starts in Canberra tomorrow with a sold out day of workshops followed by a full day of talks focused on the ongoing transformation of government services.

As our last warmup, we have one more presentation from Transform 16 to get you in the mood. … Read more »

Transform 16: NT.GOV.AU a case study – Ann Combe

Transform 17 kicks off this week in Canberra (workshop Wednesday 29/3, conference Thursday 30/3) and it looks like it might just as compelling as last year’s event. One of the aspects of Transform 16 that was especially pleasing was the range of perspectives represented by the speakers, including … Read more »

Plan Your Professional Development for 2017

Those of us who work in Web and the digital arena don’t have to be reminded that our fields are constantly updating. Whether it’s underlying technologies, or broad strategic practices, what was cutting edge last year is often common practice this year, and out of date the next.

Both in terms … Read more »

Video of the Week – Rachel Andrew: CSS Grid Layout

Now that it has support in browsers like Chrome and Firefox, CSS Grid is being recognised as the gamechanger it is for front end designers and developers.

That support has only come this month, but those who attended our Code 16 conference in July/August last year have been preparing … Read more »

1 Week Out from Transform 17

Well, we’re just one week away from our first conference of the year, Transform 17 in Canberra on 30 March. It looks like we’ll have pretty close to a full house – at last count, there were just a couple of dozen conference … Read more »

Transform 16: Transforming Accessibility

When we held our inaugural Transform conference in Canberra last year from 18-19 May, we didn’t realise it would coincide with Global Accessibility Awareness Day on 19 May. Once we knew, we decided to organise a small event to celebrate.

There is, of course, a great crossover and overlap between the … Read more »