Rustbelt Refresh

September 25th 2015 Cleveland, OH


Eric Meyer

Compassionate Design

Designers are fantastic at creating the ideal experience for the ideal user. Actual users, though, are far from ideal, and inhabit contexts that are themselves different than our imagined ideal. What happens when our idealized experience collides with messy, human reality? How can we add failure tolerance to our work? How do we avoid causing pain at web scale? In a talk drawn from the heart of his personal and professional experiences, Eric will show how design can be strengthened through the lens of five basic principles, and how we can apply these principles to the processes we already use in order to be more compassionate, and ultimately more humane, in what we create.

About Eric

Eric A. Meyer (@meyerweb) has been a burger flipper, a college webmaster, an early blogger, one of the original CSS Samurai, a member of the CSS WG, a consultant and trainer, and a Standards Evangelist at Netscape. He wrote CSS: The Definitive Guide for O’Reilly, created the first official W3C test suite, assisted in the creation of microformats, and co-founded An Event Apart with Jeffrey Zeldman. Eric lives with his family in Cleveland Heights, enjoys a good meal whenever he can, and is a staunch advocate for use of the Oxford comma.

Wren Lanier

Designing on the Z-Axis

No matter what screen size you're designing for, multi-layered experiences are an important part of every designer's toolbox. Flat may be trendy, but depth is where it's at.

The z-axis is a simple way to talk about designing up and down, creating interfaces out of layers that move independently of one another. We'll look at innovative ways to combine layers and transitions to solve tricky UI problems, and discuss why it's time for interaction design to embrace all three dimensions.

About Wren

Wren is a designer with a passion for creating beautiful digital products. Since she started working on the web over 12 years ago, she's done a little bit of everything—from advising startups on UX best practices to pushing pixels for Fortune 500 companies. When she's not building internet things, she enjoys eating bagels, making trouble, and taking naps. She currently leads design and UX at Highrise, the contact-manager originally created by 37 Signals.

Katie Kovalcin

The Path to Performance

Performance is a rising requirement for building successful websites, but successful performance begins far earlier than development. So how do you get your entire team excited by it, specifically aesthetic-heavy designers? We'll discuss everyone's role in performance and how to get all teammates caring.

  • How to get designers excited by performance by demonstrating how their visions can be more accurate with the parameter of performance
  • How to begin incorporating performance into projects by working closely with project managers, sales teams, and practitioners to all be objectively aligned throughout the engagement

About Katie

Katie is a designer at Sparkbox. She is the 2014 Net Awards Young Designer of the Year, a teacher for Girl Develop It, and a writer for various publications. She strongly values collaboration with her teammates, performance in design, and beautifully smart design systems. She loves her dog and iced coffee more than anything formerly mentioned.

Beth Dean

Emotional Intelligence in Design

Data and good intentions are no longer enough in a world where the lines are increasingly blurred between online and offline experiences. People need products that support the broad spectrum of human experience. By practicing awareness we can create designs that help people do what they need to do, even when life is hard.

About Beth

Beth Dean is an illustrator and designer in San Francisco. She currently works at Facebook on transparency and authenticity. When she's not drawing or designing she can be found on a mountain peak.

She's worked for analytics and news startups, as well as brands like Hotwire, Progressive Insurance and American Greetings. In addition to her own books, her comics have been featured in SPIN, Henry & Glenn Forever and Ever and Wuvable Oaf. She's spoken at San Diego Comic-Con, Stumptown Comics Fest, Alternative Press Expo, Lesbians Who Tech and been interviewed on NPR's Marketplace.

Ben Callahan

Letting Go of Workflow Baggage

Pretty much every company out there already has a website.

That means pretty much every customer you take on has been through a web design and development process already.

That also means they'll all bring their baggage from past experiences to your project.

In this session, Ben will share how the flexibility we build into our web work needs to filter into every part of what we do--from writing code to writing estimates.

You'll learn techniques for managing the expectations of your customer which will result in better communication and better work.

About Ben

President of Sparkbox and founder of the Build Right workshop series, Ben shares his ideas about the web on the Sparkbox Foundry and other leading industry blogs. He's incredibly grateful for the team at Sparkbox as they pioneer new responsive web design techniques and he continues to push for great user experiences outside the context of specific devices. You can find him speaking around the world, rambling on Twitter, tinkering with his personal site, or splitting wood in his backyard for next winter.

Stephanie Hay

Content-First Design

We spend a lot of time trying to solve communication problems through design. We design first, write later, and end up iterating endlessly, only to start the process over again -- design first, words last.

What would happen if we wrote the words first -- agnostic of technology or channel -- and then designed an experience to bring those words to life?

That's what Steph Hay and her content strategy team are doing at Capital One. She'll show us content-first techniques — like content prototypes, language boards, and conversation maps — that result in faster learning, fewer iterations, a more cohesive voice and tone, and higher engagement.

Come to this talk if you want to learn:

  • The value of writing real content before there's an interface
  • Ways to introduce users to new content or interactions
  • How to do Content-First Design in your work

About Stephanie

Steph Hay is a pioneer of content-first design and Lean Content testing, two low-risk methods for proving traction before building a product. She leads Capital One's Content Strategy team, which designs experiences "to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time,” and she also runs their weekly design shares (across 11 locations and 150 design team members).

Steph's a two-time startup founder, former consultant (working with Ben & Jerry's and Coldwell Banker), international speaker, and mentor (500 Startups, The Lean Startup Conference, and CV Labs).

Ask her anytime about Ohio, CrossFit, or ramen noodles — three things she loves.

Derek Featherstone

Extreme Design

Part of our craft as web professionals is to strive to create great designs. We describe them as engaging and frictionless and even suggest that the best designs are invisible. When we succeed, we give people confidence in our services and products, creating more potential for loyalty, repeat business and growth. But what methods can we use to actually DO that?

Our team at Simply Accessible has been focussed on creating those great experiences with a very particular audience in mind: people with disabilities. That focus on accessibility helps us think of extreme scenarios and ask questions like "how can we make this work eyes free?" And "how can we make this work with the least amount of typing?" While working with design teams around the world we have found that in almost every case, including accessibility as a fundamental part of the design and development process has resulted in better designs for everyone.

In this talk, Derek will lead you through several examples of extremifying your designs - stressing them in ways they haven't been stressed before -to illuminate opportunities for innovation, efficiency and excellence that lead to great designs for everyone.

About Derek

Derek Featherstone has been working as a web professional since 1999 and is an internationally known speaker and authority on accessibility and web design. He leads the team at Simply Accessible, based in Ottawa, Canada.

Derek always puts the user first and strives to make the web a better place by designing experiences that are easy to use for everyone, including people with disabilities. Derek’s ideal accessible experience combines engaging and rich content with brilliant design and technical development excellence. That user-centred focus sets the course for Simply Accessible, and—more importantly—their clients.