Archive for March, 2007

New Chunky Icons T-Shirt

t-shirtJust in time for Spring, the all-new Chunky Icons Tee is available, selling fast, and shipping immediately! This is a limited-editon run that includes a numbered, signed letterpressed card and free stickers. The shirt is printed by the fabulous folks at Acme Prints on “Army” American Apparel (of course). You will love it.

On the front are five icons lined up in a row (from the Chameleon Chunky stock icon set over at our IconShoppe). Your task is to come up with what they mean. Best answer added as a comment here wins a *free shirt* (comment before April 7, 2007 to enter). On the back yoke is a small SimpleBits logo mark. Just because.

More detailed views of the shirt are available in this Flickr photo set.

An Event Apart Boston

Don’t wait for An Event Apart to come to your city — just make plans to catch the next one wherever it is (Seattle is next). AEA Boston was probably the first two-day, single-track conference where I felt like _every_ session was extremely valuable. I came away from each presentation either inspired or educated (or both). The easy, 20 mile commute to Boston didn’t hurt either, and having Kerry and Jack see me speak for the first time was fantastic (at one point up on stage, I could hear “Dada!” from the back, and I’ll tell you … that calms the nerves).

Interface Design Juggling slidesI had fun talking about “Interface Design Juggling” — a potpourri of color, typography, favicons (yes, favicons!), microformats and bulletproofness. This was the first run through of this particular set of ideas, but I think it went pretty smoothly. I was relieved to hear several people thank me for devoting time to favicons — a fun topic that I think deserves more attention. And I’m looking forward to expanding that segment in the future.

The latest updated versions of the slide deck can be found here (in PDF form) for those that were in attendance. As usual, they might not make sense without the commentary — and more importantly some of the transitions are muddled into a single slide (Keynote kept crashing when I tried to export each transition into its own slide).

Thank you to Jeffrey and Eric for inviting me to speak — it was quite an honor to share the bill with such an amazing group.

SXSW 2007

John Allsopp said in Vancouver last month, “you bring people together and stuff happens”. He was referring to Web Directions North at the time, but you could certainly apply that to any good conference. And it’s true, there’s no substitute for meeting with like-minded people in physical space. Stuff happens that wouldn’t happen otherwise on either end of bits and bytes.

SXSW 2007 came to a close earlier this week, and the reasons for returning have been confirmed yet again: going to SXSW is about people. The panels and presentations are a bonus — but it’s primary asset (for me) is about connecting and reconnecting with people. People who share a common thread about the work we do and the stuff that matters in relation to that work.

SXSW was big this year. I missed the previous year, and so it seemed _really_ big compared to 2004 and 2005. An overwhelming schedule, not enough time to see everyone, etc. Surely they’ll reach a point of maximum capacity — but it doesn’t appear there’s a cap on attendees. This year, I put far less pressure on myself to stick in panels all day. Instead, I chose a few I couldn’t miss, then didn’t mind skipping a few because lunch (and interesting conversation) ran later than expected.

In terms of the overall vibe of the conference, I think Jeremy Keith nails it here

… technology is being relegated to its correct role: a tool for allowing people to connect and share their stories. Whether it’s Ruby on Rails, Ajax, tagging or the World Wide Web itself, I got the feeling that what really matters now is personal communication — storytelling by any other name.”

It didn’t occur to me until after reading Jeremy’s post — but there was a _real_ quality to the things people were excited about, talking about, working on, etc. That was motivating and inspiring.

I’d be on any panel with Brian Oberkirch. The guy just makes it easy. It was fun talking about something other than CSS, and our _power session_ panel ran more like an interview about working remotely, outside the Bay Area and what that means in creating for the web. I wish we had time for questions though, as several people came up to the stage after the session ended and we all had some really interesting discussion that would’ve been great for the whole room. Ah well. I’m half-hoping they ditch the 25 minute sessions next year.

I was also honored and flattered to introduce Andy Clarke and Jason Santa Maria: Bullet Tooth Web Design: Plan Your Web Site like Pulling off a Robbery. The room was _packed_ (and rightfully so to see those dudes) and the gag was a funny one. The best part was the continuation of the metaphor throughout all of the Q&A, with the audience framing their questions as if the entire thing was rehearsed.

All in all, good fun. I’m getting more and more out of the smaller, more focused conferences these days, but in getting the most bang for your buck, you can’t beat Austin in March.

IconShoppe Grand Opening

Without fail, I get more done when the work is _piled_ on. When stress is at a max and there are a million to-do items. But this was long overdue, and something I’ve been meaning to set up for a while for reasons I’ll go into in a minute. So, before I pack for Austin, I’m happy to have finished this off enough to flip the switch.

IconShoppeToday, IconShoppe opens it’s doors. I’ve finally spun off the stock web icons I’ve been selling here at SimpleBits into their own, proper digs. It’ll motivate me (hopefully) to put more time into *more icon sets* and some *other ideas* I’ve had brewing for a while. This “setting up shoppe” was the first necessary step.

That said, they’re the same simple little web icons I’ve been selling here for the last few years. But they now have a better framework in which to grow and a more easily maintainable system behind them (WordPress, customized).

Stay tuned for more, and grab the RSS feed to be alerted of new stuff happening over at the ‘Shoppe. I can’t say it’ll be updated _often_, but this is just a start, my friends.

AIGA Redesign

This morning, AIGA (the professional association for design) relaunched with a shiny new design by Happy Cog. I had the pleasure of taking Jason Santa Maria‘s brilliant designs and turning them into semantic XHTML and CSS templates that could be plugged into a custom CMS built by Thirdwave (AIGA’s technical partner). Magic and fun ensued.

Every project is a learning experience. But working with Jeffrey and Jason for a client like AIGA, well that’s a whole new level of awesomeness. One could (and should) study Jason’s molecule-level of detail in typography (using just two web fonts and a splash of Interstate via the venerable sIFR). It was a fun challenge getting things _right_ using CSS. I hope I’ve come close.
Congrats to AIGA for renewing their digs with a smart, readable, beautiful design — and a big thank you to Jeffrey, Jason and Happy Cog for allowing me to pitch in and help with this.

Read more about the redesign:
* Jeffrey Zeldman: Happy Cog redesigns AIGA
* Jason Santa Maria: AIGA Redesign
* Happy Cog: AIGA Website Redesign

And a special geek note: events listed on AIGA’s homepage are marked up with hCalendar.