Ampersand Conference NYC

 In Inspiration

Boy what a day. I just have to say how lucky I feel that I was able to attend the event. Seeing Jon Hoefler and Mark Boulton was so surreal to me. Every time I watch/read something about them, they always feel like this huge celebrity to me. So seeing them in person was just so awesome to me. In addition, I got to meet a lot of great people that attended. Without further ado, let me go over who I saw:

Mark Boulton
I’ve always liked this guy (probably because when I saw his face in a YouTube video, I thought it was Jony Ive). The fact that he able to work with CERN is just mind-blowing to me (yes, I did discover CERN through Angels and Demons).

His focus with his talk was responsive design. But he wanted the audience to see beyond the web aspect of it. A good example is architecture. The design of the building responds to the human form. I really like that idea a lot. I personally look to buildings for inspiration in terms of grids. I like looking at how the building is structured and seeing how I can bring those structures to my design. But I never thought about a building being a responsive design.

The next thing he spoke about is the content of a story. How it’s the media that makes the story, not the content. If I’m understanding him correctly, he is saying that people look for more than just text in a story online. They look for content they can actually interact with (videos, images, etc.). I’m definitely guilty of this. If I see a gigantic wall of text, I probably won’t read it (depends on the story).

His process with CERN was quite interesting. The challenge of working with scientists is quite a big one. How do you design a site where the people working there are not into visuals? How do you convince them that people visiting the site are definitely into visuals? Not only that, but you have to look at everything that CERN does. What does a landing page for a company like that look like?

I think it’s cool that he works from the bottom up; meaning that he’ll start setting paragraphs and text first and then go from there.

Jonathan Hoefler
Ever since I discovered Gotham, this man has been sort of a hero to me. Although I do enjoy Helvetica, I had always wanted to find an alternative to it. Gotham definitely does it for me.

I was hoping his talk would be more than just the Cloud Typography they’ve been doing. But I never realized that they actually had to go back and redesign, just slightly, their typefaces for the web.

Also the soft spot for typography! I feel like that’s so true with different fonts. They look “just right” in certain weights and sizes (relative to the weight).

Nick Sherman
I loved his little experiment he did with the size of type across devices. Again, something I never paid much mind to. He even developed a cool little tool that can tell you the optimal type size based on how far away a person would be standing.

His push for dynamic type is something I strongly support (I’m sure a lot of designers do). It makes sense to have a typeface that can adjust itself to the environment (another form of responsive design??).

Trent Walton
I missed out on his lecture, but I was able to get the link he posted up for the CSS. I never knew you could rotate in CSS!!!

Jenn Lukas
One hell of a presentation. But incredibly informative. She focused mainly on icon fonts which I never even knew about. In the future, I’ll never have to worry about creating sprites for icons (as she mentioned). Cool stuff. She also put up some of the code that’s essential to using these icon fonts. DEFINITELY helps a lot.

Another good thing she spoke about was setting up font style for the site. A great way to get the overall look and feel of the site based off the typography. That way it’ll be even better to design and develop.

She also gave great tips on using fonts from Google and Typekit. Don’t select too many weights for a site; doing so will definitely bring down the loading time for your site.

There were little things that the speakers and audience were using that I never knew about. So I’ll its here what I discovered:

Sublime Text
I’ve always had this downloaded, but I never actually used it. I started poking around it more and saw that you can install packages (add ons). This has officially replaced Aptana, Text Edit, and even Text Wrangler for me. The amount of file extensions it supports is amazing. So happy I’ll be using this more. (I’m now using CyberDuck as my main FTP client)

Such a cool website to test code on. Never knew about it. Has three columns; HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The bottom row gives you a preview of what you’ve done so far. Great for quick testing. Definitely bookmarked!

This is my favorite behind Sublime Text. I just wish it was free!! Basically a WYSIWYG interface with type on the web. You can then print out a style guide once your done designing the typographic structure to your site. Really great tool.

I hope I’m lucky enough to attend something like this again. I don’t mind volunteering at all. Getting up super early was totally worth it. Looking to go to DConstruct in September!!