2014 Recap

Thank You

We want to take a quick second to say thanks to all of our speakers, sponsors, and attendees for joining us at the inaugural Forge Conference. We couldn’t have done it without all your support. Be sure to sign-up for the newsletter and follow us on Twitter for details about post-conference discounts, events, and Forge Conference 2015.

We’re Always Looking to Improve

Hey, ultimately this is a conference for you. If you’ve got an idea or suggestion that would make Forge Conference better for you and your fellow attendees let us know!

Here’s What Went Down

On September 26th, 2014 designers, developers, and product people from around the U.S. came together in Philadelphia, PA to learn the story behind some of the web’s most loved brands, products, and experiences. We listened to some of the industry’s brightest folks talk about the things they feel the most passionate about. We learned how to bring internal stakeholders together, how UX in gaming can provide new perspectives to traditional web processes, and how we as an industry are collectively experiencing first-hand, the digital revolution.

Then we ate and drank at Morgan’s Pier. Oh, how we drank.

To see more of what made Forge a conference to remember, take a look at our past speaker lineup and get a peek at what you missed by viewing photos from the event.

Past Speakers

Our speakers are just some of the thought leaders that are changing the landscape of the web. Some are developers, some are designers, and some are product people, but every one of them is in the trenches making the web a better place.

  • Geoff Teehan

    Teehan+Lax

    Geoff has been designing simple digital products for well over a decade. In 2002, he co-founded Teehan+Lax. Geoff and his company have helped shape products at Google, Yahoo, Prismatic, Weather Network, LG, Globe and Mail, Readability and more. He recently led the design of Medium during its conception and is currently working with Yahoo/Tumblr and Flipboard.

    Keynote - <untitled>

    Geoff’s talk is a culmination of things he’s learned or come to realize are an important part of being a good product designer. Some of the lessons learned came through lots of failure–with 12 years and 600 projects under his firm’s belt, he’s got a lot to share. He’ll be covering the importance of giving back to our community, the ebbs and flows of running a business, the importance of taking on the right work, how to gain perspective when things aren’t going like you hope, pursuing the things you love, being nice to people, and about what it means to truly act as a team and not just a group of lone-wolves.

  • Jason Beaird

    MailChimp

    Jason Beaird is a designer, front-end developer, and author of The Principles of Beautiful Web Design. For over 4 years, he’s been hand-crafting interfaces and front-end patterns at MailChimp. He and his team recently won the 2014 NET Award for redesign of the year and they share their tales of research, design and development in The UX Newsletter.

    Design Pattern Craftsmanship

    As designers and developers, we all want to put our personal stamp on the web and solve problems in uniquely awesome ways. This mentality works fine for small jobs but tends to fall apart with big projects and team environments. In his talk, Jason will explain how MailChimp’s pattern library helps their team prototype faster, promote collaboration and prevent code bloat. He’ll also explore other pattern resources and share tools to help you craft your own modular, expandable set of interface patterns.

  • Wren Lanier

    Independent

    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, Wren enjoys eating bagels, making trouble, and taking naps.

    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 components that can move independently of one another. We’ll look at innovative ways you can combine layers and transitions to solve tricky UI problems and create immersive user experiences. Product designers and mobile designers won’t want to miss this chance to explore the future of interaction design and why it’s time for us to embrace designing in all three dimensions.

  • Marc Anderson

    Fantasy Interactive

    Formally trained in traditional graphic design and typography, Marc’s professional career has focused entirely on the digital space. He’s built a keen knowledge of user experience, technical capabilities, interaction design, and concept generation. Currently a designer at the New York office of Fantasy Interactive (Fi), Marc creates work for clients in the sports, travel, and fashion industries.

    A Tale of Two Designers

    What does it mean to be a designer in today’s agency landscape? With a rapidly growing number of media outlets, designers are increasingly asked to act more like creative thinkers than doers. Their craft has been limited to slapping together quick visuals to accompany an idea as it’s shipped to market. Regardless of whether this change is seen as “Good” or “Evil,” it has caused a visible shift in the skill sets of designers in the talent pool. I’ll take a look at this transformation from “designer” to “creative” and back again through the lens of my own work, and demonstrate how two very different agencies utilize design in their new business efforts.

  • Tami Evnin

    Nasdaq OMX

    Tami Evnin is a builder of kick-ass applications as a Product Designer at Nasdaq OMX. She earned her MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons The New School for Design, where she focused on developing social interfaces to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and product development. She is an international award winning artist, mobile designer and product designer.

    What’s Your Problem?
    Abandoning Solutions as a Team

    Solutions are the death of a product design. Learn how a growing internal team helped to disrupt a large, product-focused organization with design, not only through educating product owners, but also including them in the exploration to define problems instead of solutions.

    Our small but growing internal design team within a large product-focused organization has had a strong, strategic voice in the development process of our company’s client-facing products. Instead of making cosmetic changes to old, unvetted solutions, we challenged our team to find problems that needed solving in order to create a better overall product. We introduced research methods, design studio, and rapid prototyping into our colleagues’ vocabularies early and often. Even through a series of discouraging review sessions and a multitude of poorly worded email critiques, our team came to trust and understand that our design strategy got us to the heart of our users’ needs.

  • Nick Finck

    Amazon Web Services

    Nick Finck is a user experience professional who has worked in the web industry for over a decade. He specializes in information architecture, interaction design, usability and user research for web and mobile. Nick has created web and mobile experiences for Fortune 500 companies including Adobe, Intel, REI, Boeing, Google, and Oprah.com.

    The Nuances of UX

    When doing any kind of design work, the devil is always in the details. It is easy and often important for us to quickly rush through our wireframes and prototypes to meet a client deadline, but as professionals we must not overlook the subtleties that can turn a good experience into a great experience. This talk is about the little details we see in apps and websites we use every day, but often fail to notice. We fail to notice them because they provide for a much smoother user experience. You will learn how to design for these experiences even with a tight deadline and within an agile workflow. After this presentation you’ll never look at another app or website the same again.

  • Josh Payton

    Huge

    Josh Payton, VP of UX, partners with Huge’s visual and interaction designers to design and rapidly prototype feature concepts and interfaces. While at Huge, Josh has worked with JetBlue, Disney, and Gannett. During his career, Josh has acted as the UX Design Lead for the home and storefront pages at Amazon.com, and Senior Designer for Microsoft, Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive, and Yahoo! News.

    The Future of User Experience and the Rise of the Digital Polymath

    The digital world is at an inflection point and the implications demand that organizations hire designers who are smart generalists. Think about the moment we’re in: mobile, big data and personalization are converging to drive truly novel user experiences across countless new channels and in real life. In this post-screen world, the lines between the physical and the digital blur. It’s a world of experiences, less and less dependent on any one platform, device, interface or technology. The best designers for this new environment are those who can confidently navigate change by adapting, rather than clinging to a specialty in which they were formally trained or have the most experience.

    This talk will discuss how the user experience discipline has evolved alongside the digital industry and what implications this has for the future. It will explore the history of user experience, dating back to the early days of graphic design, and will share anecdotes and case studies from what I’ve seen during my fifteen years of professional experience working with clients around the world.

    As the digital landscape becomes increasingly complex and dependent on sophisticated specialization, user experience must expand to accommodate connections between the digital and the organic, adapting to and guiding the evolution of products and services.

  • Ian Collins

    Simple

    Ian Collins spent the last three years getting hitched, moving north to Portland to buy a house, getting a dog and having his first child. While he wasn’t doing that, he helped build and design Simple, a banking service that people love. Ian bounces between engineering and design, so he can’t help but get the two mixed up now and then.

    Trusting the Guide

    True stories from a developer-turned-designer about earning team buy-in, creating a styleguide organically and a small team handling big challenges. Hear how Simple approaches design cohesion across multiple platforms while enabling developer agency. The urge to test, create abstractions and make rules need not be limited to engineers – designers and creators of all kinds can find power in constraints.

  • Lauren Rabaino

    Vox Media

    Lauren Rabaino is a product manager at Vox Media, working on technology and culture site The Verge to align editorial, sales and product on shipping great products. Prior to joining Vox, Lauren was the news applications editor at The Seattle Times, and also worked as a designer for various media-related startups.

    Destroying Things is Cool or How to Build a Culture of Refactoring

    Ship it. Always be shipping. Shipped anything today? Working in this industry, it’s awesome to ship things. At Vox Product, we’re deploying new things daily, and we love it. However, a nasty side effect of shipping and iterating quickly are that often times there’s no time left for cleaning up some of the technical debt that’s inherit in a “fuck it, ship it” mentality.

    We’re going to talk about how to make the case for fixing broken windows, deleting code, and refactoring old projects with no outward facing changes. While it’s easy for us developer folk to justify these things, it can be much more complex when dealing with business requirements and sales people. Our talk will cover some of our successes and failures with setting these goals.

  • Jake Lear

    Vox Media

    Jake Lear is a product manager and front-end developer. In his time with Vox Media he has worked on a variety of products, but focuses primarily on the gaming website Polygon.com. Jake now manages a small cross-functional product team focused on working with editorial and sales to improve web journalism and advertising through technology.

    Destroying Things is Cool or How to Build a Culture of Refactoring

    Ship it. Always be shipping. Shipped anything today? Working in this industry, it’s awesome to ship things. At Vox Product, we’re deploying new things daily, and we love it. However, a nasty side effect of shipping and iterating quickly are that often times there’s no time left for cleaning up some of the technical debt that’s inherit in a “fuck it, ship it” mentality.

    We’re going to talk about how to make the case for fixing broken windows, deleting code, and refactoring old projects with no outward facing changes. While it’s easy for us developer folk to justify these things, it can be much more complex when dealing with business requirements and sales people. Our talk will cover some of our successes and failures with setting these goals.

  • Marc Sasinski

    Riot Games

    Marc is passionate about creating immersive experiences and product design. His focus areas are experience design strategy and team management. Past engagements have included working as a user researcher and design consultant, with clients ranging from early-stage startups, to Fortune 500 companies. Marc is currently at Riot Games in Santa Monica, California.

    Designing Engaging User Player Experiences in Gaming

    This talk will provide an overview of the UX team’s role in creating engaging experiences at Riot Games - the video game developer behind League of Legends. Over 67 million play the team-based, online strategy game every month around the world. The evolution of the Team Builder feature will serve as a case study in how interaction design helps lay the foundation for influencing player behavior. This was achieved through a unique partnership with Psychologists and Game Designers. Attendees will come away with a better understanding of some non-traditional, experience design principles from the world of competitive online gaming, including: theories of fun, mastery, and emotional design considerations.

  • Weszt Hart

    Riot Games

    Musician-turned-designer, Weszt helps Riot Games create delightful experiences for millions of online social gamers worldwide. While his most recent focus has been solving complex interaction challenges with Riot’s Player Behavior team, Weszt has also worked with Walt Disney World, Lifestyle Media, Humana, and Hilton – among others.

    Designing Engaging User Player Experiences in Gaming

    This talk will provide an overview of the UX team’s role in creating engaging experiences at Riot Games - the video game developer behind League of Legends. Over 67 million play the team-based, online strategy game every month around the world. The evolution of the Team Builder feature will serve as a case study in how interaction design helps lay the foundation for influencing player behavior. This was achieved through a unique partnership with Psychologists and Game Designers. Attendees will come away with a better understanding of some non-traditional, experience design principles from the world of competitive online gaming, including: theories of fun, mastery, and emotional design considerations.

  • Debra Gelman

    EPAM Empathy Lab

    Debra Gelman is a researcher, designer, and strategist in the field of interactive children’s media. An advocate for child-centered design, Deb has worked with clients including Scholastic, Crayola, and PBS Kids Sprout to design digital experiences for kids ages 2-12. Deb currently serves as Senior Director of UX at EPAM Empathy Lab. She is the author of Rosenfeld Media’s, Design for Kids.

    Designing Fun

    As designers and developers, we hear lots of adjectives from clients, as they tell us what they want their sites, or apps, or software to be: “The site needs to be cool,” “It should be exciting,” “I want it to pop.” When we ask them what they mean, they often answer, “I can’t tell you what it is, but I’ll know it when I see it.”

    Of all the descriptors we hear, “fun” is a particularly difficult one to define. And we’re starting to hear it a lot more as we design for different, more engaging, more contextual scenarios of use.

    The good news? We all have an idea of what “fun” is. The bad news? The nuances in these ideas—among designers, developers, clients, and most importantly, users—can mean the difference between a successful project and an unsuccessful one.

    This session will help participants work with project stakeholders to understand what they mean by “fun,” through the following process: Define it, Rank it, Research it, Task it out, Test it. Attendees will learn how to use this process as well as tips, tools and techniques for designing “fun.”

Meet Other Makers

Making a conference great goes beyond having fantastic speakers. It’s about creating shared experiences and making meaningful connections with the right people.

Meet The Attendees

Our Sponsors

A huge thanks to all of our sponsors for making Forge Conference what it is and for providing the resources that help us all create.

Contact Us

Got a Question?

We’re happy to answer it! Fill out the form and drop us a note, we’ll get back to you right away.

We’re Always Looking to Improve

Hey, ultimately this is a conference for you. If you’ve got an idea or suggestion that would make Forge Conference better for attendees let us know!

Thanks for reaching out!

Your message was sent successfully and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can.

Uh oh! Something went wrong

Sorry about that. Try refreshing the page and submitting the form again. If the problem persists, hit us up on Twitter @ForgeConf.