Would you sign your website?

It’s been 15 years now since the first edition of The Principles of Beautiful Web Design was published. To celebrate that milestone, I thought I’d share a part of the story that I haven’t written about before—how I awkwardly collected signatures during my first trip to SXSW Interactive in 2007.

Back then, SXSW was mostly known for the Music and Film festivals, but even at that time, it was the biggest interactive festival in the world. For years before, I saw posts and photos about the event on many of the blogs I followed, wishing I had attended. The book launch in January of 2007 was the nudge I needed to finally buy a ticket and make the trek to Austin.

Me at SXSWMe and my SXSWi 2007 Badge

Attending my first web conference as a published author was pretty surreal. I met a few people who had already read the book and had several friends offer to help promote it during their talks. There was one panel in particular titled “Uniting the Holy Trinity of Web Design” (pictured above) led by Jonathan Snook, Sally Carson, Dustin Diaz, and Cameron Adams where they gave away a few signed copies during Q&A. It was such a humbling experience.

The real fun for me was trying to track down and thank the attendees whose sites I had featured in the book. Take a look at the picture above and imagine that goofy kid striking up a conversation after a panel discussion, or during an evening event with,

“Hi, my name’s Jason. I just wrote this book about web design and used a screenshot of your website as an example of an analogous color scheme. Would you mind signing it for me?”

It actually ended up being a great conversation starter. I got to know so many people that week whose work I had been inspired by for years. All in all, I collected signatures on 11 different screenshots in my personal copy of the first edition.

Figure 1.27: Jeff Croft

Figure 2.15: Shaun Inman (Mint)

Figure 2.16: Brian Fling, Kevin Tamura, Tom Watson, D. Keith Robinson & more (Blue Flavor)

Figure 2.17: Dan Rubin (Superfluous Banter)

Figure 2.18: Khoi Vinh (Subtraction)

Figure 2.21: Josh Williams (Blinksale)

Figure 2.26: Bobby Goodlatte

Figure 3.23: Veerle Pieters

Figure 3.27: Jason Santa Maria

Figure 4.3: Kevin Cornell (Bearskinrug)

Figure 5.30: Dan Cedarholm (Simplebits)

I was amazed by how approachable everyone was that I met that year. All of these people, who were authors, experts, and influencers in the web industry were just awesome human beings to hang out with in-person. Looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised by that. In fact, it was the welcoming, collaborative spirit of the design community during the web standards revolution that inspired me to write the book in the first place.

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