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Erik Gruber

Erik Gruber is an independent writer, storyteller, and web strategist who lives and works in the Twin Cities. He’s partnered with universities, marketing agencies, large organizations, and startups to help them share their story, create useful websites, and (hopefully) have a little more fun.

Everybody Hurts: Content for Kindness

We all want interfaces that feel human—where the content is friendly and everything flows right along. But being human isn’t just about being breezy. Every user who interacts with your site comes there with personal histories—with pain and problems, with past traumas or present crises. How can we take our users’ vulnerabilities, triggers, and touchy subjects into account when we don’t even know what they are? What would it mean to optimize not just for seamlessness, but for kindness? This talk will show you how clear intentions and compassionate communication can strengthen everything from form questions to headlines to site structures.

Banish Your Inner Critic

Your inner critic is an unconscious deterrent that stands between the seeds of great ideas and the fruits of achievement, keeping you stuck by telling you you’re just faking it, that others have more talent, that you’ll never achieve the success you seek. Let’s discover how to anatomize this pernicious inner force, and then learn techniques to banish this critic so that you can have the mental space and energy to let your true talents emerge — and help you be a badass with your work.

Sara Wachter-Boettcher

Sara Wachter-Boettcher runs a content strategy consultancy based in Philadelphia. She is the author of Content Everywhere, a book about creating flexible, mobile-ready content, and the co-author of Design for Real Life, a new book with Eric Meyer on compassionate design, due out in 2016. Sara also offers in-house workshops to clients like the Associated Press, Trek Bicycles, Home Depot, and Harvard, and speaks at web conferences worldwide. Find her on Twitter @sara_ann_marie or at

Denise Jacobs

Denise Jacobs is a Speaker + Author + Creativity Evangelist who speaks at conferences and consults with companies worldwide. As the Founder + CEO of The Creative Dose, she promotes techniques to unlock creativity and spark innovation in people, teams, and workplaces, particularly those in the tech world. She teaches game-changing techniques for busting through creative blocks, developing clear and effective communication, cultivating collaboration, and up-leveling creative productivity. Her focus is on creating real-world results where teams work better, produce more, and skyrocket their company’s success. A tech industry veteran and web expert, Denise is the author of The CSS Detective Guide and co-author of the Smashing Book #3 1/3 and Interact with Web Standards. She is also the founder of Rawk The Web and the Head Instigator of The Creativity (R)Evolution.

Lessons Learned Teaching at a Development Bootcamp

Teaching at an intensive development bootcamp yields a wealth of insights in terms of how new learners approach development. While some may feel any educational approach will work for learning development, the truth is, is that the needs of people learning development for the first time differ greatly. Additionally, the needs may not be what you think they are.

In this session, Scott Bromander will share his lessons learned from teaching at Prime Digital Academy, an 18 week program designed to take people learning development for the first time, and position them for day one on the job effectiveness as software engineers. Scott will tackle some of the difficulties faced such as Imposter Syndrome and attaining stronger proficiencies in development quickly.

Those who already have established history as developers will walk away with insights on how to become a more effective mentor. They will have a better understanding of how people new to development approach problems, what struggles they may be facing, and what their needs in learning development are.

Those new to development will have a stronger ability to put into words what challenges they are facing. They will be better equipped to move through struggles they may be experiencing. Finally, they will have a grasp on how to continue to grow and flourish in their development career.

Solidify your approaches by cutting through some of the most challenging aspects of learning development by attending this session. See you there!

IA in Agile: You’ll See the Forest Eventually

How would you solve a jigsaw puzzle if you were only given a fraction of the pieces at a time, told that the pieces would likely change size and shape during assembly, and forced to commit to work in two week iterations? Welcome to IA in an agile environment. In order to be successful within this framework, we must learn to live with an incomplete picture, build in checkpoints to balance focusing on the trees without forgetting about the forest, and evolve our ideas as we work closely with development.

  • Designing a cohesive, well-organized system is hard, especially when we’re architecting one bit at a time, but it CAN be done as long as we keep the big picture in mind.
  • UX can be successful in an agile methodology, but only if we get comfortable with the unknown.
  • Software development is never “done” and agile helps remind us of that.
  • There are many ways to approach UX within agile. One successful structure involves UX being a sprint (or two) ahead of development.

Shall I Compare Thee to a Line of Code?

Ever wish that your peers called your code a “work of art”? What is it that artful programmers know that makes their work transcend functionality and become something that has value in its essence? There’s a lot that we can learn from the arts, particularly from those that share our linguistic building blocks. Because as all programmers and poets know, writing is easy—it’s writing the good stuff that’s hard.

So what can we take from the study of poetry that would illuminate our own paths as developers? In this talk, I’ll go through some poetic principles that clarify ideas about software development, both in the way we write our code and the way we grow as creators and teammates. We’ll explore the way poets learn to shape their craft and see what we can steal to help our code level up from functioning to poetic.

Oh, Behave: BDD Implementation with Cucumber

A lot of developers don’t like using Cucumber, a testing tool available for Ruby, JavaScript, Java, Python, Go, .NET, and more. Often, this is because they don’t quite grok what Cucumber is and how it can help them. This talk introduces strategies to use Cucumber and behavior-driven development (BDD) to make developing easier and more fun.

I want attendees to come away with an understanding of exactly how behavior-driven development in general, and the Cucumber tool, in particular, can help them make more of their work be work they love doing. They will learn about BDD, integration vs. unit testing, and get specific suggestions about how to use Cucumber to drive these workflows.

Beyond Lorem Ipsum: The User Experience of Content

In recent years, user experience design and content strategy have each evolved as distinct and robust disciplines. It is also increasingly common for user experience designers and content strategists to work together to identify user goals, articulate content hierarchies, and fight the good fight against Lorem Ipsum. However, despite or perhaps because of this collaboration, the user experience of content can fall through the cracks.

Sharon will describe what she considers the three dimensions of content UX: relevance, architecture, and accessibility. These dimensions are not new, but they have taken on different meanings with the rise of marketing automation, mobile, and awareness of the need to design for people with a range of abilities. She will explain why user experience designers and content strategists should care about content UX and what these growing challenges can mean for role differentiation and ways of working with clients.

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