Inspiration Archives - Midwest UX Conference 2015

Midwest UX Experience

I heard about the Midwest UX Conference from a couple of seasoned local UX designers at an IxDA Pittsburgh morning coffee hang-out in the spring of 2012. At that point, it was the second year of this affordable, regional conference-with-a-friendly-face. People seemed pumped to see it continue, build, and grow. As a junior designer, mid-transition from industrial design into user experience design, I thought this might be a good place to soak up some of the best UX thinking.

I set the ticket money aside (refreshingly not-so-difficult, for an event of its scale!) and booked an affordable hotel room. It wasn’t too late for me to get a couple of vacation days onto the office calendar—with the workshops I’d attend, there was a clear training element. This would be easy.

But what would the Midwest UX Conference experience be like?

In Columbus, I found a welcoming, knowledgeable group of people from far and wide (the Midwest is big—just ask us over here in Pittsburgh, on the far edge of it!) who were happy to share wisdom, valuable lessons, and practical tips from their more advanced careers. It was like that morning UX coffee hang-out, but with the UX community multiplied by 30.

Midwest UX is the mid-sized, people-oriented conference you’ve been waiting for.

If you haven’t been to a broader industry event in awhile, or even if you’ve been to an international conference recently, you will enjoy and appreciate your experience at Midwest UX. I was surprised at the impact even one workshop had on me and on the teammates I shared my knowledge with post-conference.

Regardless of where you are in your professional UX journey, I suspect it will be one of the experiences that cements 2015 as a memorable, banner year for you. See you in Pittsburgh!


Soul of the Midwest

In February 2014, I was in Amsterdam for the Interaction conference. I was high off of finishing my book and I was feeling inspired by the fantastic conference experience the organizers had created for us. It was a beautiful city with fantastic venues, and I was once again spending time with the amazing people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know through IxDA. One of those people was Erik Dahl, one of the founders of Midwest UX, and I asked him if Pittsburgh would be accepted as part of the Midwest. I knew that the call for cities to host MWUX 2015 would be coming out before long, and I was itching to bring it to my city.

You see, it was during a Local Leader Workshop at one of the early Interaction conferences that talk of creating regional conferences started. I really liked the idea, and I was aware that the Columbus group was trying to do so, but at that time, I was Logistics Co-chair for the upcoming Interaction 11 in Boulder, and that was sucking most of my free time. I couldn’t spare any to help with a regional conference. The first MWUX conference was a big hit, and what I found when I attended the second one in 2012 captured my heart. You could feel that something important was happening. It wasn’t just another design conference. There was a down-to-earth, do-it-yourself energy about it. It felt like a tight-knit community in which everyone had a lot in common. It didn’t hit me over the head in the program content, but it was there just the same—it had the soul of the Midwest. There was that mix of old industry, new technology, and entrepreneurship that has incubated a revitalization of so many Midwest cities—cities like Columbus, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, and yes, Pittsburgh.

It brings me great pleasure to be able to invite the rest of the Midwest UX community to Pittsburgh this year. I’ve always felt it important that a conference be flavored by its host city, and so my team of organizers settled on “Frontiers” as our guiding theme for the conference. Thanks in large part to our strong educational institutions, with Carnegie Mellon at the forefront, Pittsburgh has become a hotspot for cutting edge industries like robotics, wearables, gaming, and medical technology, and we intend to share that with attendees.

Sharing is, at the root of things, what MWUX is all about. Our team wants to share with you the process we’re going through in creating the next great MWUX conference, and that’s what you’ll be seeing here in our conference blog. My leads will be taking turns talking about how they are approaching their areas of responsibility, from curating the program to selecting our venues, giving you a peek behind the curtain. In fact, our next post will be written by Josh Aronoff, our sponsorship lead.

While you’re here, please have a look at the call for speakers. Maybe you have something to share with the Midwest community too.

Whether you’re selected as a speaker, contribute to the conference as a sponsor, or register to take advantage of our practical and very affordable program and workshops, I’ll look forward to welcoming you to Pittsburgh this October 1st through 3rd.