Keynote Presentations

Being Integral: Developing You

Whitney Hess
Thursday, April 28, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Illinois Ballroom

It’s a given that much of our success depends on our ability to foster meaningful relationships with our colleagues and customers. But what about our relationship with ourselves? When we ignore our emotions, act against our values, and become indifferent to our surroundings, we lose who we really are and run a much greater risk of not achieving our clients’ goals (and our own). In this talk, Whitney will explore how presence, adaptability, empathy, and influence can be our most effective design tools. And she’ll address how to cultivate these qualities through intellectual, emotional, and physical practices we can integrate into our everyday routines.

Design Decisions through the Lens of Performance

Yesenia Perez-Cruz
Thursday, April 28, 3:45-4:45 p.m.
Illinois Ballroom

We design sites for a myriad of devices with varying connection speeds. More and more, we’re discovering the importance of fast page speed. Even 100 millisecond delays in load times negatively impact user experience and conversions. The problem is, making a site fast and lightweight is often at odds with other design goals—like creating visually immersive experiences or meeting all of an organization’s rich-media ad requirements. While a stripped-down site with no images, set entirely in Arial, is certainly going to be light, it’s not going to accomplish all of our clients' business goals. In this talk, we’ll discuss how we can make smarter design decisions, from the beginning of a project, to ensure that our sites perform well. Some topics Yesenia will discuss are optimizing typography and UI, responsive images, and how to get clients and stakeholders on board.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Practical Web API Design Workshop

Wes Cravens, Marty Kane, Aaron Lee, John McCaffrey
Wednesday, April 27, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Web-based APIs have emerged as the defacto standard for powering our applications across several clients. We use our Web APIs to power our mobile platform applications, our browser client applications, automation systems, b2b exchanges and much more. There is a surge of business logic moving from behind closed curtains out into the World Wide Web where it can be leveraged and consumed in unimaginable ways. Some go as far as to suggest that the 'API Economy' is the new frontier in the Information Age.

This workshop will outline the most practical strategies and technologies that we should consider while designing and building our APIs. Know to what extent you should consider the original Fielding constraints (RESTful design) and know when to make trade-offs. Your main goal should be to build a successful and consumer friendly API that is still flexible and change tolerant. We'll explore practical answers to these difficult decisions.

Topics include:

  • Overview of the Fielding constraints
  • Modeling your problem domain
  • Hypermedia as the Expression of Application State (HATEOS)
  • What is a resource? Good endpoint design
  • HTTP Verbs - The reality
  • Value flexibility and consumption over perfection. Why is 'perfection' unrealistic?

Are You the Designer of Your Own Career?

Whitney Hess
Wednesday, April 27, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Alma Mater Room

Join this fast-paced, eye-opening workshop and discover the Plot Your Course method to design your own career. Whitney Hess, User Experience Coach, will show you how to apply the principles and practices of UX to your own life. Find out how to use the Discover > Plan > Build > Iterate process you already know and love to discover your purpose, plan your next move, build your skills, and iterate your way to the career of your dreams.

Emphasis will be on simple self-reflections and effective self-awareness techniques that are necessary for understanding our gifts and our blind spots. All attendees will receive a free copy of Whitney's Plot Your Course workbook tailor-made for this audience.

Come to this workshop with prepared questions about how to intentionally create your own career path. You can ask her anything! She will also share many of her own personal experiences and insights to guide and inspire you.

Takeaways include:

  • How to define your own path
  • Figuring out what your next step should be
  • Identifying the best environment in which to do your best work
  • Prioritizing which skills to develop and when
  • Getting real on how to best market yourself
  • A better understanding of coaching and how it applies to design and development

Stop. Collaborate and Listen.

Barry Abrams, Al Fleener, Cristy Gillespie
Wednesday, April 27, 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Creating a website requires a lot of different roles: designers, coders, directors, stakeholders, writers, managers, and most importantly, their audiences. Having so many people involved can make fulfilling the goals of the project difficult. How can you make sure the project still turns out awesome?

In this workshop, we’ll talk about how everyone can work together to create a project that functions as well as it looks, that doesn’t suffer from over-complication, scope creep, or blown deadlines. We’ll cover the benefits of promoting teamwork, content planning, interpreting feedback, team and client communication, meeting deadlines, and various collaborative tools.

Don't Reinvent the Wheel: Leverage Existing Web Services

Jess Stratton
Wednesday, April 27, 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Alma Mater Room

If it's popular, chances are your users and clients are already using it. Learn how to add and work with popular web services, APIs, and modules. Leverage brands such as Twitter, Google Docs, and IFTTT Maker to make your websites interact with the services your clients are already using!

Breakout Sessions

Building the Deployment Pipeline

Aaron Blythe
Thursday, April 28, 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Quad Room

So you have heard the buzz words DevOps and Continuous Delivery thrown around, but what do these things mean? This talk will walk you through a working pipeline, why it is important, and the main ideas that you will need to start moving in the right direction for your organization. When done correctly a deployment pipeline can eliminate enough waste to make your team/organization two times (or more) as productive.

Not Just Any Content: Strategies for Reaching Your Actual User

Lindsey Gates-Markel
Thursday, April 28, 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Technology Room

Content is the core of any site. But to be effective, it needs to be useful for your particular audience. How do you know who your actual users are? What's the best way to perform a research phase, and when do you know when you've gathered enough details? How do you show your work for stakeholders once you're done? This session will answer those questions and walk you through tools and tactics for the development of content that arrives right on time for the people who need it most.

Getting Started with React.js

Md Khan
Thursday, April 28, 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Lincoln Room

React is developed by engineers at Facebook to work with large application with data that changes over time. You can create reusable components very easily to update views of your MVC application very efficiently. React only updates the part that has changed. This talk will also cover hands-on examples to combine Angular with React to make your application faster.

Negotiating the ‘Stupid’ out of UX Design

Virgil Carroll
Thursday, April 28, 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

One of the most frustrating parts of any web project is the need to balance the ‘wants’ of the business with the ‘needs’ of your visitors. Depending on your internal dynamics, business desires can often override user experience to accomplish the needs of ego stroking, agenda setting and other senseless ‘requirements’. After having worked on many complex projects over the past 18 years, this session will explore the challenging dynamics between balancing internal pressures with common sense UX and teach practical approaches to avoid these situations before they occur, including:

  1. Collaborative activities that can be used to identify truly important business wants and needs and help prioritize appropriately.
  2. Techniques when running into internal stakeholder roadblocks, including using visitor perspectives and objective data to help convince the stubborn and enlighten those in the dark
  3. Increasing project success by learning to ‘teach while gathering’ during your requirements process

The Scent of Accessibility

Jon Gunderson, Mike Scott
Thursday, April 28, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Quad Room

Accessibility to people with disabilities is an important legal and cultural consideration in purchasing web services or working with external vendors on campus web development projects. Many people who are making purchasing decisions or trying to verify vendors have delivered accessible products and services do not feel they have the skills and/or knowledge to evaluate vendor claims. This session is designed for people to learn simple accessibility tests to get a scent of the accessibility of a product and to communicate accessibility requirements to vendors. While more complex accessibility issues will need the skills of people with advanced knowledge of accessibility, everyone should be aware of some simple tests that will help them get a good or bad scent of accessibility from a product or service and how to communicate accessibility requirements to vendors. We urge people to BYOD to the session to practice the skills as you learn them.

Building High-Performance Applications (Birds of a Feather)

Dan Harmon
Thursday, April 28, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Technology Room

Join us for a roundtable discussion on building high-performance web applications. Attendees will be asked to participate by submitting discussion items. Some topics of discussion will be:

  • Squeezing the most performance out of existing hardware (caching techniques, database optimization via indexes, application frameworks to use or avoid)
  • Adding new data layers such as Redis or other NoSql options on top of traditional relational database systems
  • Aligning server admins with your vision (getting new hardware or getting IT staff to install new software that may not be familiar)
  • The cost of speeding up an application (both the time spent and the money for software/hardware vs the benefit it provides)

How a Web Re-Design Drives Organizational Change: A Cautionary Tale

Sorel Denholtz, Toni Bird
Thursday, April 28, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Few people set out to change their organization when they begin redesigning a website, but the process of creating an effective user experience can reveal gaps in an organization's strategy/business processes/etc. To improve user experience in a sustainable way, while achieving business goals, your job may extend beyond wireframes and content outlines and require you take a seat at the table where business decisions are being made.

Taxonomy Basics for the Launch of Your Website

Pete Gaioni
Thursday, April 28, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

Taxonomy refers to the process of classifying your web content. It can be used to customize defined sections of your website with different themes or to display specific content based on taxonomy terms. Although taxonomy can be used in many ways, dynamic presentation of content is probably its most important function with respect to a new or redesigned website launch. Taxonomy should be driven by the business requirements of your website, with an eye towards possible future functional expansion. Here are some questions to help you determine how you may want to use taxonomy:

  • Are there pieces of content that should be used in multiple sections of your website, depending upon context?
  • When a user is viewing specific content, are there pieces of related content you want to show them?
  • Are there lists of tools or links based on user type or role?
  • Are there content areas of your site that should be edited only by a specific part of your organization?
  • Is there a business need to support location specific content about services or events you offer?

We'll look at the basics of taxonomy planning and show an example of how it gets implemented in a content management system (using Drupal as an example).

10 Ways to Improve Your Website's Design

Doug Burgett
Thursday, April 28, 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Quad Room

Improving the design of a website doesn't necessarily mean an overhaul that focusses on adopting modern trends. In fact, it can mean just the opposite. There are many small, time-tested methods for improving design, such as refining typography, choosing images wisely, considering white space, and embracing CSS3. Even things like editing content and linking intuitively can have a big impact with little effort. This session will provide pratical tips for improving readability, usability, aesthetics, and overall user experience, without having to gather the troops, form a committee, and embark on a journey to Mordor.

Javascript Accessibility: Fundamental Concepts and User Experience

Jon Gunderson
Thursday, April 28, 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Technology Room

This session will cover the fundamentals of dynamic content accessibility supported by the W3C ARIA and HTML5 specifications. People attending the session with learn the basic concepts of keyboard focus management, role, accessible name, grouping label and accessible description and how these concepts change the user experience of people using screen readers. This session will go through two common user interface components: a popup menu and an image slider, and look at the markup, CSS and events that support accessibility. The session will conclude with how Javascript technology can be used to bring the “Skip To Main” navigational link into the 21st century. Bring your laptops to follow along with the examples.

Beyond High or Low: Multi-fidelity Rapid Prototyping

Hannah Deering
Thursday, April 28, 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Rapid prototyping allows you to quickly test out ideas, discover the duds and build up the winners, efficiently steering towards the best solutions. However, creating prototypes rapidly is often easier said than done. This talk will advance the discussion beyond simply high-fidelity or low-fidelity to a more nuanced understanding of prototype complexity. We'll explore how fine tuning each of the six dimensions of fidelity can significantly reduce the amount of effort needed to accomplish your prototypes goals. I will share real world examples of how this approach has helped to hone building prototypes on a fast-paced agile development team.

In this presentation you'll learn:

  • How prototyping can fit into your design process
  • How to identify and focus your prototyping goals
  • How to select the right level of fidelity to achieve those goals

The Professional, Technical Team Leader

Patrick Delancy
Thursday, April 28, 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

This presentation is not about career advancement, it's not about making money, and it is not about how to impress people. This presentation comes from my decade and a half of software development experience, and almost a decade of technical coaching and mentoring experience with teams and individuals. I will describe what a technical professional team leader is and does, how to be one, and how to deal with one. If you are or aspire to be a technical leader/coach/mentor, then you won't want to miss this talk!

Artist or Architect: Designing the Web for the Ordinary Person

Tyler Hoerr, Robbie Osenga
Thursday, April 28, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Quad Room

In the quickly evolving field of web development, the process by which we work has never been more important. Phrases like Mobile First and Modular Design permeate the industry conversation. And while we all continue to discuss the merit of these ideas, struggling to adopt them as practices, a question necessarily arises, How do these ideas scale down to smaller markets? We can all imagine ourselves in a vacuum of infinite resources, whence many of these ideas arise - but most of us have limits which dictate that if these theories take preeminence, then others must diminish. What are the compromises in replicating a model larger than our own, and what should be cut? Should form really follow function, or should form cast vision first, thus creating a space for function? Is the front-end designer-developer firstly an architect or a visionary artist? These are conversations worth having.

Build Cool Things Quickly with ASP.NET
MVC and React.js

Edward Delaporte, Zach Carrington
Thursday, April 28, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Technology Room

A step-by-step demonstration of building a simple web application from scratch using ASP.Net MVC (Model View Controller) and React.js (Facebook's Open Source View layer).

The primary purpose of this talk is to highlight the ways ASP.Net and React.js elegantly combine to simplify the process of building a simple web application.

Test Driving Your Web Infrastructure with Chef

Nell Shamrell Harrington
Thursday, April 28, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Managing your infrastructure with configuration management tools like Chef melds the practices of development and operations together. This talk will focus on a development practice - Test Driven Development - and how that method can be applied to managing your web infrastructure and deployments. You will learn how to: Analyze your application and define your infrastructure needs (databases, load balancers, etc.), define unique infrastructure requirements for web applications, and capture your requirements in tests using Test Kitchen, ServerSpec, and other frameworks.

Using Tomorrow's CSS Today

Brian Graves
Thursday, April 28, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

CSS4 may only be in the working draft stage, but that doesn't mean we can't begin to use some of its capabilities in our current designs. Variables, color manipulation, custom media queries, and custom selectors are just a few of the powerful new features that can be utilized to take our CSS to the next level. This talk will take a look at the benefits of using postprocessers to write powerful, bleeding-edge CSS and have it work in today's browsers.