Explore the Future of the Web


Keynote Sessions

Innovation Starts at the TopThe Role of the DEO in Creativity and Business

Just as we took our cues from MBAs in casting the ideal CEO of the 20th century, we can look to design - in its broadest form - to model our future leader, the DEO. The DEO (or Design Executive Officer) looks at every business challenge as a design problem, solvable with the right mix of imagination and metrics. Rise of the DEO explores the intersection of creativity and business acumen, explaining how and why this unlikely coupling produces leaders most capable of solving our increasingly complex business problems.

Let’s do Humanity in the MachineWhat Comes After Greed

Brian David Johnson, counters the myth of runaway, soulless machines, by investigating how technology reflects the mission and values of the societies that create it. From high-speed NASCAR racing to high-speed financial trading, we explore our intimate relationship with our machines and how we incessantly tune them for success, for profit, and routinely for greed. But what comes after greed? Understanding that we imbue our technology and machines with our humanity means we must think more closely about what we are building, why we are building it, and what we want our tools to accomplish.

News for Web Lovers

Tim Bray

Is this a good time or a bad time to be a Web Person? On the downside, there’s a real risk that the whole Internet vanishes into one App Store or another. On the upside, there’s an explosion of new browser-based development and design tools. But explosions are dangerous to be near! I tend to pessimism, and think we’re in danger of losing some of the goodies that the browser as universal-interface brought to the Net, and to the people round the world who use it.

WWE EthnographyLet's Get Ready to Rumble!

Tomer Sharon

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is the largest and most popular professional wrestling company in the world. WWE programming introduces story-driven sports matches with predetermined outcomes and fighting maneuvers that are worked, all promoted as legitimate bouts. During this entertaining talk, Tomer will present an ethnographic analysis of the cultural phenomenon that is WWE. He will take apart this phenomenon from the point of view of a hardcore WWE fan and introduce key aspects of professional wrestling. Through video and images, Tomer will demonstrate what is ethnography and how it can explain the social life of humans and express a credible reality.

The 21st Century CampfireHow Modern Stories are Told Across Multiple Platforms

John Hartman

From our earliest moments in life it is story that connects us. Once story was only spoken, then it colored the walls of the caves. We huddled around the campfire and the stories of our ancestors were told and retold. As story grew it was bound to a page and then given voice through radio and TV. As story matures even still, along with its media savvy consumer, story now springs forth story worlds across media platforms. Media is ever changing and that evolution only seems to be accelerating. Traditional media, new media and social media these paradigms are now an amalgam of multi-platform media consumption referred to as Transmedia.

Adaptive Input

Windows 8. Chromebook Pixel. Ubuntu Phone. These devices shatter another consensual hallucination that we web developers have bought into: mobile = touch and desktop = keyboard and mouse. We have tablets with keyboards; laptops that become tablets; laptops with touch screens; phones with physical keyboards; and even phones that become desktop computers. Not to mention new forms of input like cameras, voice control and sensors.

Balancing "Science" with Person-Focused Research

Indi Young

Because of reliance on numeric quantification during the industrial and technology ages, many cultures hold science and numbers in high esteem. It’s “the truth about the way things are.” This implicit, complete trust in science bleeds out of institutions and into society at large. Marketing pitches and sales slogans are full of words like “proven” and “scientific” because those words instill trust. When you hear phrases like “evidence based,” “based on the calculations,” or “we did a scientific study,” they are meant to persuade. The phrases usually do not refer to an actual scientific process.

Banish Burnout

If you have recently become cynical about your work, it may be a cry for help. Nearly one third of US workers between the ages of 25 and 39 experience job burnout. A condition the Mayo clinic describes as a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and value of your work. As members of a field that often expects long hours and selfless dedication, we in the tech industry are at particular risk. In fact, few of us recognize the warning signs before it is too late.

Big BioDataThe Story of Us

Evidence-based medical practice is seen as a potential game-changer for both the research and the practice of healthcare as we currently understand it -- especially as healthcare shifts from reactive to preventative medicine. At the heart of this transformation is the rapid formation, and analysis, of Big BioData sourced from areas such as health records, medical devices and scientific research.

Changing Behavior by Design

Adam Harrell

In this talk, Adam Harrell reviews the prominent theories of human behavior and the latest science of persuasion to help you design interactive experiences that change perceptions, convince users to take a desired action and help turn actions into habits.

Communicating Design in a Multiscreen World

Much of the conventional design process and documentation we rely on is ineffective when it comes to communicating how we want our designs to translate across a wide range of devices and screen sizes. This talk is all about producing effective, efficient deliverables for an increasingly mobile-accessed Web, and practical design methods you can put into use right away. But there's a catch: shaking up convention doesn't always come easy.

Creating Wholehearted Experiences

Steve Fisher

A wholehearted content and design process connects a web project to the vision, audiences, and goals, but more importantly brings the extended project team together by connecting heads to hearts. Finding and creating wholehearted experiences requires a new approach to web projects. We need to open up and have the ability to connect deeply with everyone on our project teams: client, vendor, and audience. Looking at things through a vulnerable lense of being willing to be imperfect and fight through those moments together. By letting go of our usual ways of holding back and protecting ourselves, we free our project teams to express true creativity and bonding. Letting go of control and coming together to solve our content problems allows our projects to be more than we ever thought they could be.

Death to All Devices

Digital screens are now as thin as paper, as we often wished for and ultimately expected. These paper-thin displays are referred to as AMOLED and are currently used in some mobile devices and televisions. In my session I will examine the brief history of flexible screens, discuss their current use in the context of a phenomenon called Device Disappearance and explore new uses, interfaces and possible design patterns for this technology in the near future.

Deciphering Development Technologies

Do know the difference between Backbone and Bootstrap? Do you consider “Grunt” and “Gulp” guttural sounds? The array of technologies a web developer is expected to master is daunting if not absurd. This session offers a high-level overview of everything from frameworks to automation tools to package manages by providing conceptual models that ensure you understand what each technology offers.

Designing a Killer First-Run Experience

Someone just signed up for your software - what happens now? This is a 45-minute guide through designing an amazing first experience in your product - an absolutely critical experience to design for, but also one that's often neglected. We'll cover awesome ways to gain user insights, common interface patterns, and industry best-practices for getting your users from signup to all-star.

Designing for Failure

Ben Fogarty

Planning for a flat tire is easy. You have a spare. But what do you do if the "flat tire" is actually an entire 4G network crashing after an earthquake? Or a tree blocking a critical satellite feed? Failure - both planned and unplanned - is a valuable and inevitable element of creating anything significant. You have the guts and curiosity to try something wildly outside of your comfort zone, but you failing the end user isn’t an option. Join Ben Fogarty, founder of The Brigade, as he discusses how he approaches designing for failure.

Digital Fluency and User Experience

J Cornelius

People have explored the globe since the beginning of history, and have encountered new languages and methods of communication. The Web has done great things to bring us together across languages and cultures, but that doesn't mean we all understand things the same way, even if we are speaking the same language. This new digital landscape still has much to be explored. In this talk we'll look at the idea of digital fluency and how different levels of understanding can impact experience in ways we might not have considered before.

Don't get BootslappedHow to Avoid Common Pitfalls with CSS Frameworks

Ronnie Duke

In the good ‘ol days, as a front end developer, we were handed a design and we would build our CSS layout and structure from scratch. Ah, how good it felt to reinvent the wheel every time! </sarcasm> Enter the age of CSS frameworks. We started with grid systems such as 960 and Blueprint, which introduced developers to the column & grid format. Now, we have added full layout and UI into frameworks such as Foundation and Bootstrap; the options are endless.

Down with Directories

Mara Zepeda

Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp: these social media platforms and many others put a user's persona at the center of, or on equal footing with, the content a user generates. The sites become glorified directories of outdated, irrelevant information. As users, we waste time populating fields and indicating preferences. One example of a platform that has never done this is Craigslist. We never think to ourselves, "You know what I'd love to know? Where the person who is selling this couch went to college." You need a couch and you find a couch.

Envisioning the Future of the Future

How do we imagine the future of the future? How can we traverse the rich set of technological potentials contained within current and emerging technologies to imagine new, compelling landscapes? What methodologies, ideas and processes will allow us to synthesize, project and transform the world of technology, and by extension, the world we live in? In this talk Jonathan Cluts and Ana Pinto da Silva of Microsoft’s Strategic Prototyping team will share their journey imagining the future of the future, sharing insights, lessons learned and tall-tales along the way.

Form Following Function

Gabe Kean

How do we ensure that our project outcomes are always successful? Designer Gabe Kean will walk us through a proven, step-by-step approach to ensure that projects stay true to their goals, function as beautifully as they look, and ensure that teams collaborate successfully with their clients along the way. Also covered will be how to adapt to each new assignment, regardless of content, team, and medium...so that the process doesn't ever become procedural.

Gone HomeA Conversation with Steve Gaynor

Steve Gaynor

In 2013, the game Gone Home won “Best Independent Game” And “Best PC Game” at Spike's VFX video game awards. A touching first-person exploration game set inside a mysterious home, Gone Home lets players discover the life of young girl through her teenage years in the 1990s through the various possessions in the house and the story they each tell. Steve Gaynor, co-founder of The Fullbright Company, and WebVisions' Brad Smith will discuss Gone Home's design, narrative and game play and explore the future of gaming and new techniques for storytelling.

Hammering Responsive Web Design Into Shape

Ken Tabor

This talk isn’t about deciding if responsive web design is a good idea or worth pursuing. We’re assuming you’ve already made up your mind that it is. This is a session dedicated to helping you develop, and more importantly debug, RWD. Why? Because it’s not easy! The speaker will share nuts-and-bolts concepts helping audience members more safely navigate one of the most difficult things we tackle - building websites that respond to a world of device sizes.

How to Make Awesome Sauce!Putting the Messaging in the Experience

We spend much needed time and effort in designing and building the optimum experience for our users and visitors. We do usability testing to make sure the user understands the navigation and interactions related to the design. But, why aren't we asking them or testing if the content makes sense to them in the design? The messaging is often not there or it's ineffective, and we don't even realize it.

How to Revive a Design Language to Get to Awesome Products

Maybe your company has been around a while. Maybe you have a once successful product that's not growing so fast anymore. Maybe you realized you needed to refresh that product, so you hired an outside agency to inject some needed design attention. Maybe that agency came up with some really good designs but didn't quite get your product's use cases, and didn’t quite get to detailed design. Result: pretty designs that aren’t finished. How would you move forward?

How to Run 100 User Tests in Two Days

Over the past two years, the Puppet Labs UX team has run user tests en-masse at our annual conference in San Francisco. The first year, we ran almost 50 user tests, and made a lot of mistakes. This past year, we took those lessons, improved our testing process, and ran twice as many user tests, successfully.

Hyperlinks and StoryarcsBuilding Non-Linear Digital Narratives

Our storytelling tools are increasingly fragmented in the digital world but, at the same time, the web is opening up all sorts of exciting possibilities. What does it mean to build a non-linear story in the 21st century? Senongo will show examples of beautifully crafted non-linear digital narratives: disjointed stories, parallel narratives, even embedded memories. 

Insight, Design and Bruce WillisHow John McClane Helps Us Help You)

You have probably found yourself in a bit of a fix before - you have a great idea but are faced with many questions or obstacles. It’s time to look up, take stock of the situation, start connecting the dots and bring your design to life. The team at Evolve Collaborative will walk you through a few rules of creative play that combine tips, tools and tricks with knowing when to run away at the right times - whatever it takes to get the job done properly. Yippee ki-yay, Portland.

It's Not a Sabbatical!

Jenn Downs

Jenn will share an honest look at what it takes to leave a successful popular company with an amazing team to go chase your dreams and learn new skills - even if you don't know which of your dreams you're chasing or which skills you're learning. Through sharing her journey she'll help you see that you aren't crazy for wanting to leave a good thing to face an unknown.

IT ConnectBridging the Generational Gap Through Technology

On May 7, in conjunction with WebVisions Portland, a panel of IT and HR leaders at some of the state’s largest employers, will talk about strategies and technologies they are using to bridge generational divisions among employees throughout several industries. Attend this event to learn how large employers are balancing demand by their younger employees for the latest devices and technologies and managing risks associated with integrating newer technologies with legacy systems.

Leading Projects Through Danger

PJ McCormick

We're very passionate about our work in this industry, and we'll go to great lengths to defend its integrity. Unfortunately, the businesses in which we work are complex systems- politics, conflicts, budgets, and time restraints are all very real components of these systems, and they can be very dangerous to the quality of our projects. However, losing sight of the fact that people make up the core of these complex systems can seriously impede our ability to lead our projects safely through danger, especially as the nature of our work itself becomes more abstract.

The MARS ProjectTeaching Afro-Futurism as Methodology of Liberation

What is Afro-Futurism? It’s a creative theory, rooted in history and African cosmologies. Afro-Futurism uses pieces of the past, both technological and analog, to design the future. As an engaged creative practice, it moves people to consider different possibilities for themselves, their visual design, and their communities. Afro-Futurism rethinks and remixes concepts of identity, hybridity, states of alienation, and belonging. By creating interactive visual and performance art, we allow designers, students, and audience members to step outside of their daily confines, and into ‘remixed’ alternate environments.

The Nuances of UX

Nick Finck

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.

Pixel "Pretty Damn" Perfect

Design is not just about the pixels. It is about fast prototyping, defining success, and quick iteration in order to make profitable and beautiful products that are pixel (pretty-damn) perfect.

Polish: The Last 20%

Dan Saffer

The difference between a good product and a great product is often the last 20%, the polish. This talk will examine how you go about polishing your product: what issues to look for and how to improve them. We’ll cover focusing on moments of delight, preventing edge cases, writing copy and labels, and creating signature moments using microinteractions. We’ll take a deep dive into product flow, and what you can do to improve yours, from transitions to smart defaults to creating shortcuts. Polishing your product is difficult and time-consuming, but it’s the only way to achieve a quality result that users can feel.

Pricing for the WebHow to Do Great Work Without Losing Your Shirt (and Soul)

Brad Weaver

Most of us who are any good at design, development, or UX got into this because we love it, not because we saw dollar signs. But what happens when you've been at this for a while and you're still making fry cook wages (or so it seems)? Let's have a chat about real dollars, real projects, and real solutions to figure out how we can do what we love without losing our shirts and souls.

Pseudo-Element Master Class

A challenge that faces modern front-end designers often is the balancing act between semantic code and code that does all the things we need it to do. We need separators between nav items and breadcrumbs, or icons after links; little pieces of non-semantic code that mess with accessibility and make our markup ugly and unweildy.

Fortunately, with the rise of modern browsers, we have tools at our disposal to keep little bits of extra styling enclosed in our stylesheets, instead of muddying our markup with empty divs and spans. We can now add all those cool flourishes and extras while keeping our markup semantic and accessible: enter pseudo-elements. 

The Psychology of Design

Chris Sutton

Have you ever wondered how celebrity endorsements really work? Or why a pseudo-science like astrology can seem so accurate? Some basic psychological tenets can explain a lot of seemingly odd human behavior - and help you design better experiences. Learn about the power of “because”, just how far we go to fit in, and dozens of other ideas that will improve the way you approach designing a web experience, a pitch session or even a family outing.

Side Projects That Ship

Tyler Sticka

Starting a side project is easy. Finishing one? That's a whole lot tougher. Is there a secret to being prolific part-time? What separates the countless projects languishing on hard drives from the few that see the light of day? In this dynamic session, you'll learn how to identify your best ideas, focus on the right goals, eliminate cruft and maintain your interest level so you can complete your labor of love without losing sleep, your job or your mind.

Simplify the Handshake Between Humans and TechnologyKnow Your Product, Know Your People, Design with Purpose

Mark Wyner

As interactive designers we spend a lot of time trying to court the people who will use what we design. We are hunters for the ultimate romance between products and people. This is natural because we’re inventors and thinkers—we want to delight. And we should. But when we reach the pinnacle of our creation we must ask how many people actually want to climb to the peak with us.

Space MattersOffering the Living Room Experience

Going into a research study is often similar to going to the doctor. You wait alone in a room, unsure of what’s going to happen or who will be watching. To top it off, you have a giant camera overhead capturing your every move. No wonder recruiting is difficult! Setting up a comfortable UX research lab that recreates the living room experience or user habitat results in better feedback, as participants are more willing to share in a relaxed environment. Learn what basic elements you need to simulate the home user experience to gather better qualitative data and retain thoughtful participants.

Sustainable Design is Not an OxymoronPushing the Boundaries of Sportswear Manufacturing

Bergmann will lead the audience through a journey at Nike where he has worked with some of the best innovators, scientists, chemists and athletes in the world, and he will provide examples over time where a small company that was focused on performance gave it’s employees permission to push the edges to improve performance and quality in an environment that many times pushed the technological edges of possibility. Presented by AIGA Portland.

Teach Your Clients All of Your Tricks

The client services world is changing.  Instead of a perpetually renewed contract or no-end-in-sight retainer, today it's all about building your clients' capacity to manage their own services, communities, and knowledge.  This mirrors the world's move from proprietary ideas to shared economies, from private ownership to collaborative networks.  Learn how building your client's capacity is the best business development strategy to ensure your continued growth beyond the long term renewal.

Turtle Design in a Rabbit Age

Mel Lim

Would you let someone who speed-read a book on cardiology perform open-heart surgery on you? If you were attending a state dinner in Washington D.C. would you expect a gourmet meal prepared by the White House chef or would you be happy with a fast-food quarter pounder with cheese? When it comes to the products and services that we typically signify as having value, prestige, and even longevity, one single element factors into their creation: time. So why is it that design and the design processes, from ideation to development to implementation, are all happening on the fast track?

Uncovering UX of the FuturePractical Tips On How to Do Research in the Field

The average UX expert is becoming more and more interested in learning about qualitative research methods that reach "beyond the lab." While it may seem hard to believe, some of our most valuable research is being done in diverse locations such as vehicles, the living room, and even the operating room. UX practitioners must understand the practices, beliefs, and emotions of people in their everyday environments in order to successfully design future technologies. Field research helps provide insights into what and how products and services people will most likely incorporate into their lives. Uncovering UX is a journey with unexpected twist and turns. As researchers, we will travel outside of our comfort zones, speak to respondents who say unexpected things, collect large amounts of ambiguous data, synthesize information into meaningful patterns, consider tradeoffs, and finally tell a coherent narrative. This talk will discuss how we managed to navigate through this journey while discovering areas for innovation.


Viewports are hard. Don't let anyone tell you they aren't. Although desktop browsers have only one, and it works pretty intuitively, mobile and tablet browsers have three. And sometimes they don't work intuitively - or at all. What are the three viewports? (Spoiler: layout, visual, and ideal.) Why do we need all three? Why does responsive design work? (Not how. Why.) What happens when you set the meta viewport? How do browsers go wrong? (Spoiler: in plenty of innovative ways.)

Watch Your Wearables Disappear

2014 is shaping up to be the Year of Wearable Computing, and the tech community is currently focused on trying to figure out what form it will take: smart watches, augmented reality headsets, jewelry, toothbrushes, and dog bibs - what experiment with hardware form factors could be truly shocking from this point forward?

Welcome to the Ludic Century

Why do we play?  That is the essential question.  In answering it we discover not only where we have come from, but where we are going.  Environmental circumstances have remained constant for several thousand years (arguably since the dawn of mankind) and certain games have arisen to either mimic or supplement our daily routines (whether warfare or other, more collaborative thinking, activity).  However, now, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory.  It is for this reason that we are, truly, at the dawn of the Ludic Century.

Why are Some Startups More Successful Than Others?

Neal Cabage

Many startups are formed every year, but few ever reach profitability, and even fewer sustain profitability for more than a few years. With so much at stake, wouldn't it be nice to understand why some businesses are so much more successful than others?

Your Web Font is Crap.Here's How to Choose a Better One

Jim Kidwell

Text is the lifeblood of the web. And when you choose an inferior web font to display it, your project is going to bleed all over the cyber-verse. To keep your projects from hemorrhaging unnecessarily, ensuring that your web font, CSS and html are up to the task is critical. All fonts are definitely not created equal, and depending upon how they are used, some can even be downright problematic. To top it off, as designers & developers, we love pushing the limits, frequently making our tools beg for mercy. Learn some common sense ways to identify and eradicate problematic code that just might be giving your text show more than a few blemishes.


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