Explore the Future of the Web


WebVisions digs into the future of web design, UX, tech and digital media in NYC, Chicago, Portland, Barcelona and Berlin.

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FIVE: Q&A with Google’s Tomer Sharon


Tomer Sharon

Tomer Sharon’s job is to see the future and figure out user needs before they are fully expressed.

A senior user experience researcher at Google Search, Tomer is the author of the upcoming book, Lean UX Research for Entrepreneurs. He also wrote the book, It’s Our Research: Getting Stakeholder Buy-in for User Experience Research Projects.

He took time out from unlocking the future to give some insight into his upcoming WebVisions PDX keynote, where he’ll talk about pro wrestling from an ethnographic perspective.

Read on to see what he has to say about choosing the WWE as the focal point of his session, how ethnography applies to his work at Google, and the future of studying users’ daily lives. More

Typography is blending art & science to rock your cultural world

When you engage your brain to read the written word, all kinds of science-y stuff happens inside your head. Good design can make you feel like you’re accomplishing something great, while poor design just brings you down. Choice of typeface can even influence how much we believe information that we read.

Thomas Phinney

Thomas Phinney

Enter typography guru Thomas Phinney. Phinney has adopted typography as his vocation and his passion. This complex craft goes back at least five centuries, combining art and science that has been integral to cultures throughout the ages.

Phinney is a typographer and type designer whose typeface Hypatia Sans is an Adobe Original. He’s also an enthusiastic instructor, regularly teaching type design with the global Crafting Type workshops. And he’s been a repeat guest lecturer for the MA Typeface Design program at the University of Reading, England.

In addition, Phinney is product manager and font library curator for the WebINK web font solution firm Extensis, located in Portland. Phinney was drawn to Extensis by the opportunity of font management, which allowed him the freedom to pursue his passion for typography.


Periodic Table of Typefaces by Squidspot

Thomas Phinney has long been involved in the design, technical, forensic, business and historical aspects of type as well as font standards development. He’s also a pay it forward kind of guy. When getting his start, Phinney says several prominent people in typography were free with information and advice. “I think the best way I can repay their generosity is to do the same,” Phinney said. He writes extensively on typography for publications such as Communication Arts, academic journals, Extensis blogs, and thomasphinney.com.

He’s even testified in court as an expert witness on typography, which is pretty damn cool.

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Don’t miss Thomas Phinney’s “Make Your Own Web Fonts” workshop at WebVisions PDX on Wednesday, May 7 at 9am. If you haven’t already purchased tickets, you can register here!

Storytelling rising

Senongo Akpem

Senongo at WebVisions NYC in 2013

Imagine waking up every day knowing that your job is to create something amazing and get it out it into the world. Welcome to the life of Senongo Akpem.

At his day job for Cambridge University Press, Senongo creates digital experiences as a writer, illustrator and design lead. He extends those digital experiences through PixelFable, a website featuring beautifully-illustrated collections of interactive children’s stories.

In short, Senongo Akpem is a storyteller. And he uses digital tools to enhance his ability to tell those stories.


When asked, Senongo offered up an exceptional example of this storytelling technique: An Idea Lives On. This site is a set of interviews and stories about the people who were inspired by President John F. Kennedy. Each interview tells a different person’s story, and the president’s life and myth is almost tangential to theirs. Its an amazing collage of Kennedy’s life and death, and his impact on the American fabric. Check it out. It’s both elegant and powerful.

It’s easy to see why Senongo is passionate about his work.

At WebVisions PDX in May, Senongo will present “Hyperlinks and Storyarcs: Building Non-Linear Digital Narratives.” His session will offer examples of beautifully crafted non-linear digital narratives: disjointed stories, parallel narratives, even embedded memories. He will also provide a set of narrative principles and structures for attendees to build upon.

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See Senongo’s session on “Hyperlinks and Storyarcs: Building Non-Linear Digital Narratives” at WebVisions PDX at 1:30 pm on Thursday, May 8, 2014. If you haven’t already purchased tickets, you can register here!!

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…WebVisions is the crunchy granola cousin of SXSW.