Today, I attended my half-day workshop, “Taking Interface Animation from Good to Great.” These long workshops had to be chosen in advance from among three options, and I'm happy I chose the one I did. Presenter Val Head spent the first part of the workshop setting the context for what UI animation should do and why, followed by hands-on demos and practice examples that gave me a much better understanding of how to get started in CSS animation.

CSS animation is still a clunky technology. Even setting aside the lack of graphical tools for animating, it lacks accommodations that I became accustomed to as a trained animator. For example, every transformation made to an object with the “transform” property must be keyed on every keyframe in the animation; there is no option to set a keyframe on one property while allowing the rest to automatically interpolate. Ugh. The good news is that there are a lot of CSS frameworks out there to assist in writing animation code in a more intuitive way. Now that I see what some of the challenges are, I can start understanding when and where to find solutions to those challenges.

After lunch, I attended a talk by Jon Gosier called “The Problem with Trickle Down Techonomics (slides of the presentation).” Based on its description, I expected it to be more political and ideological than it was. Rather than focusing on the evils of unequal distribution of new technology, Gosier talked more about considering the possible unintended consequences of the tools we create as designers. During the Q&A, he got even more pragmatic, describing the process of predicting harmful uses of a product or design as a form of risk management. A company may not see the immediate value of this kind of investigation, but they may be the ones who are legally liable should their work be used in a harmful way.

In the next session, “Design Studio: How to Keep UX Lean & Real,” Nate Wooten of WillowTree walked us through his company’s process of research, ideation, and prototyping using rapid methods that allow them to keep up with the changing face of software development. We then did a rapid prototyping exercise where we drew screens for a fictional mobile app, assembling them into a working prototype using a free app called POP. I really liked that app, and I would use it all the time if I were developing native mobile apps.

The final talk of the day was “5-Star User Experience” by gourmand and UX expert Jimmy Chandler. Chandler talked about how the concept of “User Experience” applies just as much to the restaurant industry as it does to web and software design and offered a new way of thinking about digital UX design in terms of equivalent restaurant service experiences. I didn't take many notes during this one — it was the kind of talk best suited to keeping in the back of my head to help me keep a broader perspective on my work. In other words, the perfect choice for the last session before dinner.

Tomorrow is the third and final day of the conference. The last speaker will finish at 12:30, then I’ll have to head home. It’s too soon to be sad, though — I still have plenty of good stuff ahead of me!