Rustbelt Refresh

May 3rd 2013 Cleveland, OH


Eric Meyer

The Era of Intentional Layout

From its very inception, the web has lacked a layout system worthy of the name. From using headings to make text "big and bold" to tables to every CSS layout technique devised over the years, today's web interfaces are fundamentally shaped by the gaping hole where a layout system should be. Now, thanks to recent and ongoing developments, we are finally gaining access to systems designed specifically to describe layouts. How will we handle this unprecedented shift? With a little cleverness and an understanding of past struggles, we can ease the way from the unintended present to the intentional future.

About Eric

Eric Meyer has been working with the web since late 1993 and is an internationally recognized expert on the subjects of HTML, CSS, and web standards. A widely read author, he is the founder of Complex Spiral Consulting, which counts a wide variety of corporations, educational institutions, and government agencies among its clients and is, along with Jeffrey Zeldman, the co-founder of An Event Apart.

Jonathan Snook

Your CSS is a Mess

CSS is easy? CSS is messy! And as a project grows, it only gets messier. You find yourself throwing !important at everything or fighting with long selectors just to get a style to overrule another. This session looks at a few quick tips to help bring things under control.

View the slides

About Jonathan

Jonathan writes about tips, tricks, and bookmarks on his blog at He has also written for A List Apart, 24ways, and .net magazine, and has co-authored two books, The Art and Science of CSS and Accelerated DOM Scripting. He has also authored and received world-wide acclaim for the self-published book, Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS, sharing his experience and best practices on CSS architecture. When not writing books and speaking at conferences, Snook is Product Manager at Shopify.

Val Head

Finding Your Perfect Web Type Match

There’s a seemingly endless number of web fonts out there and it’s not just variety that makes it tough to choose one. We have browser rendering, file size and more to consider. In this talk Val will cover tips and tools for putting your potential web font selections through the paces before you commit.

View the slides

Presentation resources

About Val

Val Head is totally into design, type and code. She is a designer and consultant currently based in Pittsburgh where she works with agencies and small businesses to make fun and effective web sites. She speaks internationally at conferences and leads workshops on web design and creative coding.

Every year she and Jason bring a swarm of web designers to Pittsburgh for Web Design Day. She also runs the local creative coding meet up, Loop, and helps keep Refresh Pittsburgh going strong. She likes people. Val tweets too much, occasionally dribbbles, and blogs somewhat inconsistently.

Jen Simmons

Responsive Layouts Beyond the Sidebar

When approaching the design of a responsive website, old habits might focus you on sidebars and footer regions for placing content. It's natural to assume the best responsive solutions are to be found in moving those regions around the page as whole units. But that way of thinking could lead you miss the best stuff about responsive design. Let go of the old habits, and discover how focusing on content can drive far superior responsive layouts.

View the slides

About Jen

Jen Simmons is a designer who builds stuff, too. She’s best-known as the host of The Web Ahead, a weekly podcast about changing technologies and the future of the web. Creating websites since 1996, Jen is currently designing innovative websites and products using the latest technologies, pushing the envelope of what's possible. She's also an independent consultant and trainer, helping teams transition to a responsive design process and envision implementations of the HTML5 APIs.

Emily Lewis

Take Your Markup to 11

HTML. The foundation of almost every single web site and, yet, one of the most overlooked languages. It has the power to make your sites more accessible. To help search engines and users find your site. To make your content sharable and syndicatable. It even has the power to save you time and money.

But, of course, not just any HTML can do all this. Your HTML has to be one louder. Emily will show you how to "take your markup to eleven" with advanced techniques, including semantic HTML5, structured data with microformats and microdata, and WAI-ARIA landmark roles.

You'll see practical examples and learn best practices, so you can immediately start writing markup that goes to eleven. And, yes, there will be more Spinal Tap references.

View the slides

Presentation resources

About Emily

Emily Lewis is a web designer and developer of the standardista variety, which means she gets geeky about things like semantic HTML and CSS, usability and accessibility. As part of her ongoing quest to spread the good word about standards, she writes about web design on her blog, A Blog Not Limited, and is the author of Microformats Made Simple and a contributing author for the HTML5 Cookbook. She’s also a guest writer for Web Standards Sherpa, Script Junkie, .net magazine and MIX Online.

In addition to loving all things web, Emily is passionate about community building and knowledge sharing. She is a co-host of The ExpressionEngine Podcast and the Managing Editor for Web Standards Sherpa.

Jonathan Penn

HTTP: Get to Know the Foundations of Your Career

Do you design or build software for the web? Think that HTML pages have to end in ".html"? That a RESTful web service is a yoga session for people bitten by radioactive spiders?

HTTP is about much more than just HTML and CSS. It's a powerful and very flexible language between servers and clients that's often misunderstood and underused. Together, we'll dig into the history of the HTTP protocol and how it evolved. Dont take this transport layer for granted. It's not merely the pipe that you use to deliver beautiful cascading style sheets to your users. It is, of course, but it's so much more. You might be surprised what's in there.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Penn is a software engineer, designer, and author known for quality work sprinkled with mischief. When not solving client problems, he is the mad scientist behind Navel Labs and scribbler-in-chief at Cocoa Manifest, a technical blog for exceptional OS X/iOS resources and commentary. He also likes cats.

Josh Walsh

Making Our Users Feel Great: The Psychology of Making Things Easy to Use

The design industry has lost focus on what it means to be a user experience designer. It’s not about writing requirements, drawing wireframes, graphic design, or even user research. It’s about making your users feel great. While those other skills are important, they are just a means to an end, a way to enable users to accomplish what they need to accomplish.

We conduct user interviews and usability testing to learn directly from our users, but our brains aren't wired to express how we feel. So, how can we learn from our users' feelings to make our products better?

About Josh

Josh is the guy you call when something is hard to use.

He is an award winning user experience designer, interaction designer and self-proclaimed design raconteur. His work spans from 1 man startup companies to large applications for the Fortune 100 - from elementary school students to the worlds leading surgeons.

He currently serves as President of Designing Interactive in Cleveland, OH.