An Event Apart: Understanding Web Design

Jeffrey Zeldman, founder of A List Apart and the Happy Cog web design studio gave a talk at An Event Apart in Orlando called “Understanding Web Design.” Here are my notes on key points:

  • How do you describe what we do? Examples include “I make things on the internet. I design things on the internet.” These are inadequate descriptions when speaking to strangers on a plane, your client, or your boss. There is no consensus on who should run the web experience. The mystery of web design limits our ability to produce good web design.  
  • Learning from employees and customers is powerful. We need websites that allow us to learn from our users.
  • Anything that interferes with users getting their stuff done is BAD.
  • Remove needless complexity from the experience.
  • We don’t design for browsers or devices. We design to create a good experience for people.
  • The secret of good design is in the details.
  • The secret of good web design is in the details and the content.
  • A great website guides you subtly to your heart’s desire. Great design is never passive, it only seems to be.
  • What you need to know about SEO: Google will find your content if it’s good content and you mark it up semantically.