Keynote Presentations

Swipe Left: Banish Your Inner Critic to Unleash Creativity

Denise Jacobs
Thursday, April 5, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Illinois Ballroom

Research shows that self-talk is not only a key component to thinking and processing information, but is also how we build our ideas of who we are. This means that when self-talk goes awry, it’s the main source of our biggest block to creativity: the Inner Critic.

What if there were simple and effective ways to change our self-talk for the better and banish the inner critic in order to do our best work as contributors, collaborators, and leaders? Fortunately, there are! First, you’ll discover the 3 mental power tools that we already possess to stop the inner critic in its tracks. Then you’ll learn methods for dealing with the fear of being judged and criticized, how to transform highly critical self-talk into that of approval and encouragement, and ways to feel like your ideas are good enough and stop committing “ideacide.”

By the end, you’ll have a roadmap of how to both get unstuck and channel your creativity as a force for positive change in the world.

Social Media MBA: How to Bring People and Organizations Together Through Social Technologies

Jeff Gibbard
Friday, April 6, 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Illinois Ballroom

Too many people in social media have no idea how to tie their activities back to measurable business results. The problem is that they often understood social media, but not business.

In 2008, I graduated from an MBA program and realized that I’d learned three very important lessons. Those three lessons became the foundation of my entire career.

From learning these three essential lessons, I created a framework to understand how social media works for businesses, all while preserving the unique elements that make social media such a unique and special method of communication.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn how to see social media through the eyes of business without losing the human aspect of social media
  • Understand the key elements of using social media successfully in an organization of any size
  • Discover the five elements of social media and how they can be used to solve real business challenges
  • Understand how to plan for measurable impact

It Starts With a Search

Maria Naggaga
Friday, April 6, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Illinois Ballroom

Learning and exploring languages has changed. Every new feature and programming language begins with the search. As learning programming basics has become more of an online venture, how do we account for the ease of acquisition. How do you make learning a new language exciting to all developers?

In this talk Maria will introduce the core principals she's learned in creating exciting documentation and online developer experiences that enable all developers to be successful in the browser. How do we get our developers excited about learning C# and .NET without ever having to leave the browser? Maria will show some of the work she's been doing on the .NET team to make this happen.

Pre-Conference Workshops

Introduction to Web Components and Polymer

John Riviello and Chris Lorenzo
Wednesday, April 4, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Alma Mater Room

Web components are a set of web platform APIs that allow you to create new custom, reusable, encapsulated HTML tags to use in web pages and web apps. With libraries such as Polymer that are built on top of Web Components, it is now possible to easily create fast Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) without the overhead of a framework. This workshop is a hands-on introduction to Web Components and the Polymer library. You'll learn how to build your own components with both vanilla JavaScript and Polymer using the newly released Polymer 3.0 library, as well as assemble a simple PWA using existing open source Web Components. We'll also cover Custom Properties (CSS Variables), which are supported natively in all of today's modern browsers and polyfilled for older browsers by Polymer, to style our custom elements.

Accessible Beginning-to-End: Integrating Accessibility Into Your Team's Workflow

Keith Hays, Dena Strong, and Elijah Byrd
Wednesday, April 4, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Everyone involved in the development and maintenance of websites has a role to play in making it accessible to those with disabilities. We will explore how accessibility fits into the entire project lifecycle, from business requirements to publication. The intended audience for this workshop includes four groups: project managers, web designers, web developers, and content creators.

We will start with an introduction to web accessibility for all attendees. After that, people will choose one of the four role-specific groups listed above and participate in an overview of basic accessibility concepts relevant to their role.

Next, we will form teams containing at least one representative from each of the four roles. These teams will create a paper prototype of an accessible website, including wireframe design, HTML pseudo code, and sample content—practicing the role-specific accessibility skills they learned in the first half.

Review of the site prototypes will conclude the workshop.

Razor Pages

Maria Naggaga
Wednesday, April 4, 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Alma Mater Room

Razor Pages is a new feature of ASP.NET Core MVC that makes coding page-focused scenarios easier and more productive. Through the course of this workshop members of the .NET team will provide an overview of the .NET ecosystem and teach you how build .NET applications that run on any OS or IoT devices.

In order to get the most from this workshop it's suggested you come with the following:

  • Laptop
  • .NET Core 2.0 SDK (or Current version) Windows, Linux, and macOS
  • Visual Studio Code

Content Marketing and Social Ads Mastery: What to Make, Where to Put It, and How to Measure It

Jeff Gibbard
Wednesday, April 4, 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Content Marketing is great. Advertising can be very effective. Combine the two and you’ve got a recipe for success. But the first step, before you post anything, is planning out what you want to create, and where you will put it. It starts with asking the right questions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Go through the process of defining your ideal audience and knowing how to find them online
  • Learn the questions to ask in order to create the right content
  • Work with your team to create an editorial calendar
  • Understand the structure of Social Ads
  • Learn how to use content, advertising, and retargeting to convert awareness to action

Breakout Sessions

Elasticsearch in Action

Bryan Jonker
Thursday, April 5, 9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m.
Alma Mater Room

One of the biggest challenges is to get the right information to your audience. Search engines are a great tool for this, but sometimes the user doesn't know what to type. That empty text box can be daunting. We ran into that problem, and our solution was to create a faceted search where users can browse through our programs to choose exactly what they were looking for. We are switching over to Elasticsearch to implement this (partially because of its open source nature, partially because our Amazon Web Services partner supports this), and this presentation will demonstrate in a live demo how to start up with Elasticsearch.

Developing Your Content Strategy Like a Coder

Virgil Carroll
Thursday, April 5, 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

When it comes to putting together a solid content strategy, we can learn a lot from how object-oriented programmers manage their code. In this workshop, join Virgil Carroll as he walks you through building your content strategy from the ground up. We will explore how to model like a coder to create more manageable content, share content across multiple locations, and treat content as one source of the truth. In this workshop, you will learn how to best leverage content distribution and how to turn your digital content strategy into a scalable, manageable endeavor. You will be challenged to create the basics of your own content strategy through a series of interactive activities. These activities will both teach you and help you prepare steps you can bring back to your organization.

If you are struggling with how to deliver high quality content without increasing your workload, this is the workshop for you.

Empathy and The User Experience: Creating Brand Loyalty by Being Real

Jane Lockhart
Thursday, April 5, 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Lincoln Room

We design "personas" as a marketing tool as a way to keep our consumers in mind. But when designing the user experience past the shopping cart, we need to take a deeper look at the people who use our products. How and why do they bring what we make into their daily lives? And how can we use an empathetic approach to make their experiences better? Using design thinking and research strategies, we can improve the user experience, improve brand loyalty, and create real relationships with our users.

Digital Badges in Courses and Professional Development

R. Scott Wennerdahl
Thursday, April 5, 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Quad Room

Did you know that a digital badge could motivate students' participation and engagement? Digital badges are an opportunity to recognize learner accomplishments in courses and professional development activities. These graphical awards are earned by learners when certain conditions—such as assessment performance, classroom engagement, and other measures and behaviors—are met. Faculty and eLearning professionals will co-present this session and assist you in brainstorming how digital badges might be used within your own course.

By attending this presentation, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of:

  • How digital badges can serve to motivate, guide, and recognize learners
  • How digital badges are currently being used to reward students, staff, and faculty in the College of Business
  • How to plan, create, and issue digital badges in Illinois Compass and other systems
  • How digital badges can be shared by students via social media

Progressive Web Apps with Angular

Cory Rylan
Thursday, April 5, 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Technology Room

Using technologies like Angular and Service Workers, we are set to build the next generation of web apps. In this session we will cover examples of how progressive web apps can improve user experience. Combined with ideas such as caching, offline support, and lazy loading, we can make a truly great user experience.

The Impact of Leveraging Open Source

Jeff Strauss
Thursday, April 5, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Alma Mater Room

Open source tools. We all use them. Whether an entire framework, a focused toolkit, or a simple custom component from GitHub, npm, or NuGet, the opportunity to improve our development speed while learning new things from open source projects is enticing.

But what does open source truly mean? What are our rights and limitations as open source consumers to use, modify, and redistribute these tools in a professional environment? The answer depends upon the OSS author's own decisions regarding project licensing. Come investigate the core principles of open source development and consumption while comparing and contrasting some of the more popular licenses in use today. Learn to make better decisions for your organization by becoming informed of how best to leverage the open source works of others and also how to properly license your own.

We Do What? A Higher Ed Customer Experience Audit

Pete Gaioni and Ashley McQuaid
Thursday, April 5, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

Most of our clients in higher education believe they know what their external audiences experience when they're trying to engage: apply, enroll, donate, etc. But it's about more than knowing the steps. It's about seeing it from an outsider's perspective.

The Flagler College web team was self-aware enough to know what they didn't know, so they worked with iFactory to audit their customer experience. We looked at the experience of prospective students and other important external audiences. Our findings were not what we predicted, and led us to develop new guidelines for our higher education clients as a whole.


  • The importance of having an outsider do a formal audit of your processes.
  • In terms of conversion, the critical nature of getting all of your stakeholders aligned.
  • Three things you can do now to start the ball rolling for your own institution.

Designing for Accessibility: Changing Users' Mental Models

Jemma Ku, Nicholas Hoyt, and Dena Strong
Thursday, April 5, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Quad Room

This presentation is about design methodologies and how they interact with and impact development processes, and how design must sometimes compete with mental models that users may already be familiar with.

We will offer insights into how we dealt with the tension between usability testing focused on an agile development process, where user feedback may suggest specific design alterations, and a more goal-oriented design process that began with the creation of a conceptual model, which was based on interaction design principles and previous accessible text editors from the state of Illinois.

As a case study, we will use the example of the A11yFirst Project, which aims to support the creation of structured, accessible documents by web content authors who are using an embedded WYSIWYG editor within a content management system.

SOLO: An Agile Software Development Case Study

Joe Crespo
Thursday, April 5, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Alma Mater Room

Agile Software Development is a framework for organizing digital teams and projects. User centered design, iteration, minimum viable product...these terms of art stem from Agile's core principles.

This session is a case study that will:

  • Help those unfamiliar with Agile find their feet with the framework
  • Help those already on a team with an Agile-ish practice embrace the core principles that undergird the practice
  • Illustrate successful practices around the four ceremonies associated with Scrum (a flavor of Agile)
  • Give insight into how remote teams can successfully work together

Ensuring Design Standards with Web Components

Chris Lorenzo and John Riviello
Thursday, April 5, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

Creating a unified user experience across multiple applications at a large company is a daunting task. Most projects work in silos with different designers and developers re-creating UX patterns for each project. Standards guides are developed for best practices, but are hard to share and keep updated across projects. Enter Web Components: little snippets of web code that follow standards, promote accessibility, and can be easily shared. Rather than building standards docs, start building web components that all your teams can leverage. Stop setting standards and start building them!

Creating Within Constraints: What Content Strategy Can Borrow From The Arts

Lindsey Gates-Markel
Thursday, April 5, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Good content has heart. It exposes ambition, tells stories, and connects us to our audiences. It doesn't follow a formula, and often requires some fumbling to get right. But it's hard to convince people to be vulnerable during a high-stakes, expensive website project. How do we find space to create bravely while staying within project and team constraints? This talk borrows from artistic disciplines like theater and fiction-writing to walk you through tactics for richer interviews, fun stakeholder working sessions, and content creation that provides guidance and space for authors without being rigid.

Peak Productivity and Continuous Improvement

David Needham
Thursday, April 5, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Quad Room

Do you ever get to the end of your workday and wonder where the day went? Even worse, do you have days where you feel like you didn't get anything done?

Ivy Lee's proven technique will help you achieve peak productivity while boosting your confidence and overall happiness at work. This session takes a 100-year-old productivity hack and uses modern tools and gamification to make it even more accessible for the average person.

From there, we'll learn about the 80/20 principle and how continuous improvement (the act of making lots of tiny but incremental good choices) will give you a leg up on your competitors while making you a genuinely happier person.

In this session you'll learn:

  • Why the Ivy Lee Method works and how to apply it.
  • How to track your progress and encourage success with free tools.
  • The most helpful questions to ask yourself each day.
  • How to set realistic goals and track accomplishments.
  • How to get in the habit of making lots of small improvements each day.
  • Suggestions to implement these techniques for the whole team.

How Unconscious Bias Effects Product Development and User Experience Design

Marcus Finley and Rakia Finley
Thursday, April 5, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Technology Room

User experience design is one approach to addressing the issues of unconscious bias often found in today's technology. Small, seemingly insignificant details could alienate large portions of your potential client base; on the other hand paying attention to these details could open your business up to new clients and revenue streams you never thought of. This presentation will detail how to identify and overcome unconscious bias in order to achieve the maximum client or consumer base possible.

Scaling Sparta: Military Lessons for Growing a Dev Team

Emily Freeman
Thursday, April 5, 2:45-3:45 p.m.
Alma Mater Room

Scaling systems is hard, but we're developers—that's kind of our thing. Scaling people? Well, that's significantly harder. Humans are complicated. So how do you scale a team of two to 20? The answer starts over 2,000 years ago in Sparta.

This talk will focus on three distinct military organizations—Spartans, Mongols and Romans—and apply the lessons learned to our organizations.

Modern CSS

Brian Walters
Thursday, April 5, 2:45-3:45 p.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

Great front-end development requires a clear understanding of CSS. But web development is an ever-evolving field, and it's hard to keep up-to-date with CSS practices when there's a newer, shinier technology every day. This talk will focus on what is going on with CSS right now, current best practices, the newest additions and developments, and how to fold these practices into your current process. We will examine what clean CSS looks like at an industry level and specify how to improve your current practices. We will look at specific examples to demonstrate the skill set you can immediately integrate into your work as a modern CSS developer. Topics covered: BEM, Stylus, Critical Path, Transitions, Transforms, Selector tricks, Gotchas, and perhaps most importantly, the new layout module, Grid.

Facebook Ads vs. Google AdWords

Holly Rushakoff
Thursday, April 5, 2:45-3:45 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Could your organization benefit from paid social media? When should you consider it? How much bang can you get for $5? This presentation will review several case studies from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois, including the Wildlife Medical Clinic and the Midwest Horseshoeing School. We will review various paid Facebook campaign options, including boosted posts, boosted events, and ad campaigns to drive calls to action, such as link clicks. After navigating through Facebook's Ad Manager platform, we will talk about the steps to take for a paid Google AdWords campaign, using a real-world example, and compare results.

Perfecting Dependency Injection

Matt Baker
Thursday, April 5, 2:45-3:45 p.m.
Quad Room

It's in code bases all around the world, but are we getting all the value that the dependency injection pattern has to offer? Large dependency graphs, brittle test suites and hidden complexity have lead us to believe we aren't. However, it's possible! In this talk we will cover when to use this pattern, how to use it, and the pitfalls that we should be watching out for. We'll also cover some alternatives to dependency injection, just in case you decide that it is not for you.

Creating Powerful and Flexible Authoring Tools with Drupal

Brian Gervais
Thursday, April 5, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Lincoln Room

DIY tools like Squarespace and Wordpress have elevated author's expectations for what is possible when creating content. Authors want to control how their content is presented like never before. Can Drupal handle it?

Drupal has always been incredibly flexible as far as creating fieldable custom content types. As developers, we can leverage custom code to define and present content in almost any way imaginable. Let's empower non-technical content authors to do the same.

In this session we'll explore some of the latest and greatest tools, techniques, and modules offered in Drupal 8, including:

  • How to create and expose custom layout entities in Drupal.
  • How the Paragraphs, Media Entity, Entity Browser, and Inline Entity Form modules can create powerful editing interfaces for authors.
  • How to offer content authors, robust, flexible tools without compromising the integrity of design.

Join us as we explore how we've been using these tools to build flexible layout and content creation tools in Drupal 8 for clients like History Colorado and Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

The 5 W's of Docker

Tracey Barrett
Friday, April 6, 9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m.
Alma Mater Room

Trying to find a path to modernize your applications, simplify your production environment or introduce DevOps? This session will provide you with a basic understanding of Docker: what it is, who is using it, why, when and, where it could help you.

Turning CMS Into The Experience Hub for All Channels

Ryan Dietz
Friday, April 6, 9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

The term CMS is too often associated with clunky, difficult to use, dated enterprise systems that are no longer helping to meet the marketing goals of an institution. You need a way to deliver content to as many screens as possible, through as many channels as possible, while managing it all from one platform for brand consistency, governance, and scalability. In this session, Ryan Dietz, solutions consultant from Adobe, will show examples of how other schools are changing their content strategy from a purely static, traditional web experience to a personalized communications strategy leveraging data to develop better content and drive university goals.

The Social Media Checklist

Danielle Mitchell, Maya Harris, and Bryana Holcomb
Friday, April 6, 9:45 a.m.-10:45 a.m.
Lincoln Room

A live audit of a social media client. Each member will go home with the social media checklist. This presentation will also share stories about web development, social media, snagging a partnership, and paid content.

Testing Layers in a Distributed Architecture

Karl Hughes
Friday, April 6, 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Quad Room

Modern web applications often rely on internal APIs, multiple front-end applications, several third-party services, and dozens of vendor libraries. With complex distributed systems like this, how can developers create a comprehensive test plan that covers everything without slowing development down to a crawl?

In this talk we'll learn how to create test plans for complex, service-oriented applications as well as some best practices for testing across a distributed architecture. We'll see how layers of unit, integration, acceptance, and end-to-end tests can greatly improve the reliability of our applications and make maintaining them much easier in the long-run.

Learning at Work

Tiffany Farriss
Friday, April 6, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

With tech still struggling to achieve its diversity and inclusion goals, and average job tenure down to less than three years, we need to transform how we think about our organizational cultures. How do we create environments that succeed because of teams, where success is not dependent on any one person? How do we align the company and individual interests so that everyone benefits from the time they work together? This presentation explores the role that culture and learning have for organizations and individuals as they work to answer those questions.

Functional Reactive Components

Jonathan Barronville
Friday, April 6, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Functional Reactive Programming (FRP) is programming with asynchronous data streams using functional programming principles. As it turns out, this programming paradigm/model works really well for building reliable, flexible, reusable, and testable UI components. The goal of this presentation is to show you how to accomplish this.

We Used Reddit as a Way to Reach More Students: Ask Us Anything!

Emma Andruczyk and Bradley Woodruff
Friday, April 6, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Quad Room

In March 2017, The Career Center (TCC) staff held their first-ever Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) event in the /r/UIUC community, and they would like to share the experience with those interested in holding their own AMAs, or those interested in learning more about the Reddit community and how to use it as a way to reach more students. During this presentation, TCC will give a brief description of Reddit, and explain why they believe Illinois students find it to be valuable. They will also discuss their motivations to have a presence in this social media venue, describe how TCC has been utilizing Reddit for a virtual opportunity for career advising, and explain how they see their department utilizing it in the future. They will use data visualization to show how they track their impact in the Reddit community and how that, in turn, influences their practice.

How to Build a Process for Successful Content and Website Management

Jenny Hutchinson
Friday, April 6, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Alma Mater Room

Successfully managing content creation and dissemination in tandem with routine website maintenance can be a challenge. Even with the best content production and publishing tools, you might struggle to stay on top of it all, if you don’t have a well planned and tested process. In this session, we’ll look at a case study in establishing and implementing a process for creating content. We’ll unpack the major stages of creating a comprehensive process that improves coordination between content creators, increases cross-department visibility into content projects, and bolsters the amount of high quality content you can create — all while being more efficient and productive. Finally, we'll discuss how this same thinking approach applies to other efforts, giving you the tools to create an effective process for website management or other tasks.

To Centralize or Not to Centralize: That Is The Question

Jim Crone
Friday, April 6, 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Alma Mater Room

Should units be given free rein to develop and maintain their own websites, or should everything be managed by one central office? Higher education institutions have established a variety of models to manage their web presence. This session will dive into the often uncomfortable topic of web governance and will examine the pros, cons and other issues associated with various models. Also, hear the tale of how one institution migrated from a decentralized environment to one where its web presence is managed by a central administrative office. The major culture shift associated with this institution-wide change resulted in many lessons learned that peers can benefit from as they tackle web governance initiatives on their own campuses.

Intentionally Instagramming

Caitlin McCoy
Friday, April 6, 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Chancellor Ballroom

Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform; Currently, engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter (according to social sites TrackMaven and SocialPilot). Also, according to the Wall Street Journal, we now spend more time on social media than in our email inboxes.

So we all (hopefully) see this is the platform to reach our target audience, especially younger generations; but now what? How do you grow your following? How do you best engage users? What kind of photos get followers and keep them? What about this new algorithm thing?

Caitlin McCoy will discuss how to intentionally Instagram with attendees, including: how best to use Instagram to further your branding and photo tips, how to keep followers, when and why to use sponsored ads, and more.

Supporting Inclusive and Sustainable Open Source Communities

George DeMet
Friday, April 6, 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Quad Room

Technology communities in general and open source projects in particular frequently suffer from a lack of diversity, with low participation rates by women, people of color, and other marginalized populations who are frequently targets of harassment and abuse.

This session will talk about the tools and techniques used by various open source communities to help support and maintain friendly environments for large and diverse groups of contributors from around the world.

We'll discuss how these communities manage conflicts and the various challenges they've faced while working to help keep their projects welcoming and inclusive places that support positive participation by all.

Common Web Attacks and What You Can Do About Them

Sudesh Kannan and Ron Searle
Friday, April 6, 1:15-2:15 p.m.
Lincoln Room

Many IT companies assume that their web designer or web hosting company will be responsible for their web security. In some cases, companies assume that only the e-commerce part of their website is vulnerable to attack. In this presentation, the most common web vulnerabilities and attacks will be addressed, along with an outline of prevention and management of website security.