Jan 31-Feb 1, 2018 / Vancouver, BC

An Interview with Ethan Marcotte

Written by Steve Fisher

September 22, 2017

Featured Speaker, Ethan Marcotte

One of our featured speakers and workshop leaders for the 2018 event, Ethan shares with us what he's up to and the things he's passionate about. We also hear what we can expect from his workshop, Going Responsive, and his talk Responsive Design: Going beyond devices. We're thrilled to have Ethan join us for our 2018 event. You won't want to miss learning from an industry leader like him. Make sure to grab your registration for his workshop!

Transcript

Steve Fisher
Welcome to the first interview for the Experience Code conference. I am super excited about this event and I can't wait to introduce you to all the speakers. And today we've got on the call, Ethan Marcotte. Ethan, could you say hello to everyone and just quickly introduce yourself?

Ethan Marcotte
Hey everyone, I'm Ethan Marcotte, apparently I'm Steve's microphone twin, we didn't coordinate this but uh, I'm an independent designer, I'm based in Boston, the United States, I'm incredibly excited about Experience Code. I guess I'm probably best known for being that guy who created that whole responsive design thing, so I'm really sorry about that but, it's been changing a lot over the last few years so I'm really excited to talk about what's been on my mind lately and next year. So, thanks for having me.

Steve Fisher
We're thrilled, Ethan, and we think you're perfect for this event so we're excited you can come, and no need to do the Canadian thing and apologize for for responsive design.

Ethan Marcotte
I'm a naturally apologetic person anyway, so yeah.

[Steve] We're all quite happy about it. Well, most of the time.

[Ethan] Fair, that's fair.

Steve Fisher
Maybe tell us a little bit about something that you're up to right now, something you're passionate about, involved in working on?

Ethan Marcotte
Yeah, I mean, as you might imagine, the last few months in the United Stated have been a little bit interesting, so I've been trying to think a little bit more about, I guess a big focus for me in the last few years is trying to bring my design practice in line with some organizations and causes that I kind of care deeply about. And that ranges from, you know, just working with different kinds of organizations to doing like some pro bono consulting for some local charities and non-profits, so that's been really kind of helpful and instructive for me, I've learned a lot from that process. But beyond that, what I've been really focusing on, I guess in my work, is thinking a lot less about, you know, just responsive design as a whole bunch of big ol' pages, and I think a lot of other voices in the industry talking about how the design practice has shifted to be a little bit more modular, and look at some of the challenges on the smaller end, because that really brings up a whole host of other challenges for companies looking to go responsive. You know, not just how do we take a layout and break it down into all these small, reusable components, but how do we actually maintain that over time and sort of sustain that as a platform, you know.

Steve Fisher
That's really interesting, really great, and I think ties in really well, too, with what you're coming to talk to us about at the event. So you've got talk and a workshop. The talk, Responsive Design: Beyond our Devices, and the workshop, Going Responsive, maybe you could tell us a bit about what people could expect from both.

Ethan Marcotte
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think it really does kind of tie into what I was just saying about, you know, how do teams and organizations actually start thinking about designing in patterns and designing in modules? And that influences everything, not just from front-end layout and design, but how do teams actually talk about these patterns, how do you actually communicate that, you know, a specific variation of your masthead is only supposed to be used in certain circumstances. I think that, at least for me in my practice, I've often seen that these style guides or patterns libraries that we create are sort of seen as the arbiters of truth for a design system, that this document is gonna sort of self police itself, and sort of communicate perfectly all the time, when in many cases it's just really another conversation tool. It's something that we have to maintain, and use internally to talk about how our design needs might be shifting over time. So that's some of the stuff I'm gonna be talking about in my talk, and then we're gonna look at some strategies, and tell a few more stories during the workshop about how some other organizations have been doing that as well.

Steve Fisher
Oh, that's great.

[Ethan] I hope so.

No, no, it's fantastic. I'm really excited about both the talk and the workshop. So, you're coming back to Vancouver, you were out here a while ago, but you didn't get to spend a lot of time here. So, what are some things that maybe you're excited about, coming back to Canada?

Ethan Marcotte
You know, I was saying before we started recording, I was in Vancouver for like all of three minutes, it felt like, like I did a full day workshop at an earlier conference of yours, and had wonderful food, wonderful coffee, so I'm really looking forward to both of those things. Yeah, just hoping to walk around the city a little bit more. Spent a little time in Stanley Park last time, I'd love to get back down there, although it might be a little bit colder this time than my last visit. But the Bill Reid Gallery was actually recommended to me by a number of folks, and I'm really hoping to check that out as well. If you have any recommendations, I will happily take them.

Steve Fisher
Well, we actually have some up on our website already. And Dave Shea has been writing a few posts for us that we're gonna be sharing about some of the best breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner places, and we're even gonna be right across the street from an outdoor rink that should be open that time of year. It doesn't get super cold in Vancouver in the winter, but you might be able to do some skating, make you feel a little bit more like you're at home, Boston. I really tried to get that right.

Ethan Marcotte
You nailed it, you nailed it.

Steve Fisher
But yeah, there'll be lots to do around the city, and lots of food and coffee to explore.

Ethan Marcotte
I like all those words, in that order. That sounds fantastic, Steve.

Steve Fisher
Well, thanks, Ethan, for joining us today, and we're super excited to see you out here in 2018.

Ethan Marcotte
Thanks, Steve, I can't wait.