I had the fantastic opportunity to attend #AEA Alanta this year, and what a rush! All of the speakers were passionate about their craft, and presented with unique flare and polish. Attendees (such as myself) were awash in design, design, design. One presenter in particular stood out, however, partially because of the topic, more because of his presenting skills, but mostly due to the clashing nature of his presentation.

Don’t misread this! Every single presenter had fabulous talking points and plenty of wisdom and good advice to impart to attendees. However, Jared Spool (@jmspool) stole the show with the most practical, sensible, and usable advice in the conference (in my modest opinion). The title of his presentation did not inspire me. I feared that this might be the most dull session in the conference. However, the title was extremely misleading. Spool’s presentation had the entire crowd rollicking at times. The session was actually a usability talk that stood in stark contrast with most of the design talks given at #AEA. Where most of the speakers spoke about pieces of good design here and there, and showed us multiple impressive ways to layout pages as well as design with content in mind, Spool’s presentation dealt with the practical issues concerning links on a site. His tone and presentation skills made me care deeply about how well information was “scented” on my own personal and professional sites; how well links used “target” words to lead the user to content. Whereas most of the conference was aimed to help designers create good design (and there’s nothing wrong with that), this presentation made designers aware that design was not an end to be upheld on its own, especially if it distracted the user from the information on the site.

Spool’s presentation presented designers a view of web design from a user’s eyes, and it is a talk that I don’t believe I will ever forget.