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Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Paramount Theatre, Austin, Texas

Last Friday was the Texas JavaScript conference. A conference I would have never gone to, except Girl Develop It reached out to the women of Austin & offered an incredible diversity discount. So thanks to their generosity & my boss' generosity, I was able to spend a full day hanging at the Paramount Theatre, surrounded by experts in the web field. I saw fifteen talks in nine hours in one day. If that sounds overwhelming to you, let me just say:

  • You're telling me!
  • But.... actually .... I kind of loved the set up.

The day was broken out into five segments, consisting of three, 25-minute talks. Each segment had a theme and the themes were diverse, interesting and (most importantly) intellectually accessible even to a newbie like me. [View the full schedule here, OR, better yet, WATCH THE WHOLE CONFERENCE HERE. Yes. All the videos are available online. Because TXJS is awesome.]

Unlike my SXSW recaps, I'm not going to go through each individual talk. Instead I just wanted to share a few highlights. Little nuggets of truths that I hope can be used both in the web field & outside it.

CSS is !important détente

In a room full of JavaScript developers this joke had people rolling on the floor. For the design-leaning me, it made me realize that the thing I love (CSS) is used even by people who don't love it and has inherit issues I'm used to overlooking. 

Don't take your tools too seriously. Don't expect everyone to look at them the same way you do. And especially, don't think your tools aren't flawed.

After all, there's a reason why this photo has been making the rounds for years....

CSS is awesome -- as it breaks out of its box because there is no way to style that

Do the hard work to make it simple.

I watched two videos of web users unable to select their birthday using a drop down <select>. It broke my heart and reminded me why I want to continue down the path of UX...  I want to make the internet usable by everyone. 

Select vs. Input. Which would you rather use?
Which would you rather use?

In 2000, Nielsen wrote, "Drop downs should be used sparingly." In 2015, the article "Dropdowns Should be the UI of Last Resort" has made the rounds on every blog, newsletter & Twitter feed. (Now, including this blog & the TXJS conference.)

If it was a problem in 2000 and it's still a problem today, what have we been doing wrong? Being lazy? Ignoring the problem? Hoping the user will eventually "get it"?

As professionals, it's our job to do the hard work. That's what we signed up for & we shouldn't shy away from it.

Argument Culture Does Not Solve Problems

So pretend for a moment politics don't exist & I'm just talking about an argument culture in the work place.... This is the way to do! I'm right, you're wrong! Why on earth would you do it that way? 

We've been taught that competition raises the bar & should give us fresh sets of ideas. But "competition" has so many negative connotations & leads to an argument culture. What if we changed the word "competition" with "collaboration"?

Find the commonality - a venn diagram shown as a visual example

Look at issues as a chance to collaborate and find the commonality.

Don't Make Nice Things. Solve Problems.

This is a theme I hear in almost every web conference I go to. In our daily work, it's easy to emphasize making "the pretty thing" but sometimes the pretty thing isn't what we need to build. And it's up to us to know the difference. It's up to us - the creatives, the engineers, the developers - to do simple, funcitonal work for a purpose.

We build a connection between every person in the world.

Don't lose the importance & the magnitude of that reality.

See past conference recaps:

And my UX Masters Journal, where I'm sharing my lessons & work as I attend grad school.

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