5 years
39 UX talks
1 conference



You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for archived talks from past years of UX Burlington.

2018 Conference

June 15, 2018

Dana Chisnell

Keynote: The Epic Journey of American Voters

  • Recap

This talk will show how every great designed experience starts with the stories of individual humans.

At the Center for Civic Design, Dana Chisnell and her team collected close to 1,000 stories from U.S. voters over 5 years. They used the stories to visualize and map the voting experience. This revealed two massive gaps in the process.

First, people who administer elections and voters have very different mental models on the process of voting.

The second gap was between privileged voters and burdened voters. These gaps explained why it’s harder than it should be to vote in the U.S.

The stories also showed that several policies that were meant to make things better had unintended consequences that actually made it worse. And just as in the private sector and across lots of different kinds of organizations, design research could have helped solve real problems without causing new ones.

It’s time to start designing for democracy.

About Dana Chisnell
Dana is a pioneer and thought leader in civic design, bringing deep experience to that space. After working with banks, insurance companies, and tech companies for decades to help them improve experiences for their customers and workers, Dana takes that knowledge to the government space.

She started with research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) into the use of language in instructions on ballots (with Ginny Redish), and work on standards and testing for poll worker documentation for the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). She has applied this work in dozens of states, and even advised election commissions in other countries.

Dana is an expert in plain language and usability for older adults, including groundbreaking work at AARP that was the basis for several requirements in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

She teaches design in government at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the masters level Democracy, Politics and Institutions program. She also teaches with Whitney Quesenbery a course on design in elections that is part of the Election Academy at the University of Minnesota – the first university program to professionalize election administration.

From October 2014 to October 2016, Dana did a tour of duty as a “generalist problem solver” for the United States Digital Service in the Obama White House, doing user research and civic design across agencies. Her particular focus was on helping US Citizenship and Immigration Services modernize its software development and design practices to improve experiences for immigration officers and the public. She also helped the Department of Homeland Security design a more modern, agile, and design-forward procurement process.

As the editor of the Field Guides To Ensuring Voter Intent, she has taught thousands of election officials how to improve ballots, voter guides, web sites, and other election materials to ensure voter intent. She worked on the Anywhere Ballot, a ballot marking interface tested for accessibility by people with cognitive disabilities and low literacy.

Dana and Jeff Rubin wrote the Handbook of Usability Testing Second Edition (Wiley 2008), the seminal book on the topic.

Dana serves on advisory boards for US Vote and the Bridge Alliance.

Amanda Stockwell

Getting the Right Research Participants

  • Recap

Let’s explore pros and cons of finding research participants using existing users, intercepting live visitors, or using market research or UX tool panels. We’ll cover best practices for screening and incentivizing participants so you can make sure your research efforts are as effective as possible.

About Amanda Stockwell

Amanda Stockwell is President of Stockwell Strategy, a UX research practice focused on lean research methods and integrating user knowledge with business goals to create holistic product strategies. She has spent the last decade focused on finding innovative ways to understand end users and embed that knowledge into overall process. She’s lead teams that provide research, design, and UX strategy services and frequently writes and speaks about her experience. When not talking UX, Amanda likes spoiling her pooch Bromer, eating Maine lobster, and organizing local chapters of Ladies that UX and Tech Ladies.

Brogan Morton

Let’s Get Physical

Hardware Dev in a Digital World

  • Recap

While user experience is often associated with digital products and services, it is just as critical for the success of physical products. Hinesburg’s own NRG Systems has significantly improved the way it develops and over the course of this overhaul we discovered that the development process used in the physical product and digital product world are actually converging. In the end we are all trying to craft the same ‘product’; a seamless customer experience that provides them with incredible value. The new process that has evolved combines the critical elements of design thinking, voice of the customer research, jobs-to-be-done theory and Lean Startup. Instead of simply presenting the similarities in methods and process, NRG will bring the audience along a development journey using an actual product that is still in development. To learn more about NRG Systems, please visit https://www.nrgsystems.com

About Brogan Morton

Brogan Morton is the senior product manager for NRG Systems’ burgeoning wildlife conservation products. He started his career in engineering doing research and development on aerospace systems, and he now uses that technical knowledge to lead product development teams with an unrelenting focus on solving customer problems. He holds a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA. When Brogan isn’t trying to make wind the most competitive energy source on earth, he is trekking around the great outdoors of Vermont with his wife and two young kids.

JD Jones

Experience Mapping

A Step-by-Step Guide

  • Recap

Today’s most seamless customer experiences are happening across channels and touch points. Despite this emerging need, teams often focus only on the touch points and channels for which they are responsible. As a result, these teams lose sight of delivering a holistic customer experience. They miss pain points that occur when customers switch between channels. For example, think about the last time you filled your personal information into a web form, only to have a customer service representative ask you for the same information moments later over the phone. Experience mapping workshops bring teams together to discover and resolve these pain points. This talk will show proven methods for tackling these challenges. We’ll walk through a step-by-step guide to running experience mapping workshops — you’ll get to see it in action.

About JD Jones

JD Jones is a Senior User Experience Designer at Modus Create. He is an avid believer in user-centered design, cross functional teams, and designing to deliver business outcomes, not outputs. JD graduated with a masters degree in human-computer interaction from the University of Maryland.

Chris Varosy

Visualizations for Actions

  • Recap

Big data is exploding, but we need the right lenses to tease insight out of the noise. Visualization design requires business and number sense, abstraction ability and many other skills not typically asked of a designer. We’ll discuss strategies for designing visualizations and dashboards that bring the insight users need to make decisions. Starting with understanding users and their needs, we’ll reverse engineer the story that solves their problems. How do we progressively disclose that story? How can we use available data dimensions to show important patterns? What filters and options should we expose? How do we make it work for colorblind people, on phones, and in German? How do we make it perform at scale for data sets big and small? What are the considerations for specific graphing packages? What about pushing it out to other applications and media? This talk will help you tackle all of these considerations and whip your data into insightful information.

About Chris Varosy
In 1994, somebody mistook Chris Varosy for a web expert after he read some release notes on Netscape 0.9. Since then, he has founded three agencies and has designed for all manner of interactivity, leaving a trail of software, data visualizations, mobile apps, kiosk apps, web portals, infographics, Flash, HTML, Shockwave, animated GIFs and other obsolete detritus. Chris’s current gig is Partner, Creative at Primitive Spark, a human-centered UX agency. When he’s not designing or blathering on about design, Chris is making an unholy racket with musical instruments and/or woodworking tools.

Marguerite Dibble

Gaming UX

  • Recap

Marguerite will talk you through some of the exciting and inspiring examples of how games in 2018 addressed classic and totally new user experience challenges.

About Marguerite Dibble

Marguerite Dibble is the CEO of GameTheory, a company that uses game design toolkits and mindsets to tackle challenging real-world problems through app development and strategic consulting. GameTheory has worked to provide unique game-based solutions across healthcare, energy, and finance, creating products and techniques that exist in the sweet spot between logical and the creative. Marguerite founded her company before graduating Champlain College in 2012. She has spoken at TEDx events and provides keynotes on technology and game intersections nationally as she continues to grow her company in Burlington, VT.

Raphaëlle Vrana

Practical Design for Accessibility

  • Recap

Perceive, operate, understand, and be robust: these are the principals of accessibility online. In the near future, it is expected that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will roll out official compliance guidelines concerning website accessibility as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But even without finalized guidelines, costly litigations have already determined a precedent regarding online accessibility – just ask Harvard University, Target, and the NBA. As designers, marketers, and executives, it is important to regularly review our websites to ensure that the content and features are digestible and provide the same reasonable level of accessibility as do your physical locations. This presentation will review ADA compliance guidelines, how to implement them across several roles, and showcase examples of award-winning user experiences that are WCAG Compliant.

About Raphaëlle Vrana

Raphaëlle (Raph) Vrana is a Senior UX Designer. She has experience creating industry-leading digital experiences for organizations like Dell, East Boston Savings Bank, DentaQuest, and Drexel University. She is an advocate for accessibility and ADA compliance, ensuring that user journeys are intuitive and frictionless.

Becca Kennedy, PhD

Designing For Human Brains

  • Recap

This talk will go over some key psychological principles and how they relate to UX design — like visual perception, human memory, and social psychology — with plenty of examples from products we know and love (or hate). We’ll also dig into useful research and testing methods from social sciences.

About Becca Kennedy, PhD

Becca Kennedy is a Human Factors Psychologist and a UX Researcher/Designer. After an academic career designing and evaluating healthcare training technology, she turned independent and co-founded a UX consulting company called Kennason in 2015 out of Albany, NY. Currently, Becca is the UX Designer for Agrilyst, an agriculture-tech startup based in Brooklyn, and she also keeps busy with consulting projects and volunteering with organizations like AIGA Upstate New York. She was also recently recognized by the Albany Business Review as a 40 Under 40 awardee.

2017 Conference

June 9, 2017

Jen Simmons

Designing With CSS Grid


  • Recap

Now that CSS Grid is here, what are we going to do with it? Sure, we can create page layouts very similar to the ones we’ve been using for the last decade, but CSS Grid also opens up a world of new possibilities. Graphic designers of the 20th century fell in love with using a grid for their layouts. How might we apply their ideas to the web, and what might have to change? What do we need to think about when designing for this new paradigm? In this far-ranging talk, Jen will explore the realities and possibilities of new layout technologies and how they will change our craft. You’ll leave with exciting new techniques and ideas for your design and development toolkit — and, more importantly, with the inspiration to create bold, new, previously unimagined layouts for the 21st century.

About Jen Simmons

Dubbed “the Terry Gross of the tech industry,” Jen Simmons is the host and executive producer of The Web Ahead. Her in-depth interviews explain emerging technology and predict the future of the web — and won the 2015 Net Award for Podcast of the Year. Jen is a Designer and Developer Advocate at Mozilla, where she advocates for web standards and researches the coming revolution in graphic design on the web. She’s spoken at events including SXSW, An Event Apart, Fluent, Generate, Future of Web Design, and Respond. Her talk, Modern Layouts: Getting Out of Our Ruts, was awarded Best Conference Presentation at CSS Dev Conf 2014. Jen launched her first client website in 1998 and spent years making sites for small businesses, arts organizations, and creative individuals. Her more well-known clients include CERN, the W3C, Google, Drupal, Temple University, and the Annenberg Foundation. Jen earned a MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University. She lives in New York City.

Jason Pamental

Our New Typography

Variable Fonts and The Future of Web Design

  • Recap

The web is about words—ok, and cat videos—but otherwise lots and lots of words. We’re well past the tipping point of ‘more mobile than desktop’, and the use of content management systems has skyrocketed—so the way we set those words has a bigger impact than ever on design, usability, and brand differentiation. There’s no doubt that typography is our most important tool in great design and UX, but that can’t come at the expense of performance. Otherwise we risk our great designs never being seen. Enter the latest development in type technology: Variable Fonts, coming to web browsers near you. Envision a single font file that can scale in size, width, weight and even x-height—exactly as the type designer envisioned. All controllable with CSS. Everything from super-fine-line delicacy to the chunkiest slab headlines; wide widths in banners and slightly narrower body copy for better line lengths on mobile devices. If type is the voice of your words, that voice just became a chorus. We’ll look at the technology, how to use it, timeline for release, and most importantly: their impact on the dynamic range of our design capabilities. Make no mistake: variable fonts will have a more significant impact on web design than anything since responsive design itself. Learn how you can use them today and be ahead of the web tomorrow.

About Jason Pamental

Jason is Senior Director of Design and Technical Strategy at Isovera (isovera.com), where he heads the design and development team, leads workshops, and works with clients establishing their digital strategy. Seasoned design and strategy leader with 20+ years’ experience on the web. Projects range from Ivy League to the NFL. Researches/writes on typography for the web: author of Responsive Typography from O’Reilly, articles for .Net Magazine, PRINT Magazine, HOW, Typecast Blog, Fonts.com. Frequent speaker and workshop leader, having presented at over 50 national/international conferences; featured on numerous podcasts including The Web Ahead, Boagworld and Creative Briefs. Really just filling time between walks with Tristan & Tillie around Turner Reservoir, posting photos on Instagram (instagram.com/jpamental).

Sara Simon

Sometimes Your Ideas Are Bad

  • Recap

In 1983, Michael Crichton wrote a screenplay about a graduate student who uses genetic research to clone dinosaurs… but you’ve never seen this movie. Crichton knew the narrative didn’t work. What university would actually fund research for dinosaur cloning? A better setting? A theme park. Kids love theme parks, so Crichton’s Jurassic Park iteration two told the story of a theme park filled with cloned dinosaurs… from the view of a child. You get the point. Sometimes ideas are just bad, in stories and in code. This talk is about recognizing bad ideas and turning them into good ones.

About Sara Simon

An art school graduate and former English major, Sara is the web developer at Vermont Public Radio. She works both in and beyond the newsroom to build technologies that help to find and tell stories.

Bill Drew

Selling UX

  • Recap

What’s the point of great UX if you can’t sell it in? Great UX will have no impact at all if you can’t sell it in. Thankfully, there are a number of simple and proven steps you can take to greatly increase your chances of selling in great UX. This talk will outline and de-construct the three crucial areas that determine sell in success: 1. Truly understanding the client/agency dynamic 2. Understanding how to sell is not about selling at all 3. Getting to “yes” is easy when you don’t have to ask for it Understanding these areas and how to leverage them will contribute greatly to increased success. Distilled down from nearly 30 years of agency and digital experience, and incorporating real-world examples, Bill Drew shares this proven and practical approach–one that any creative professional can take to improve their chances of selling in great UX.

About Bill Drew

For nearly 30 years, Bill Drew has proven he has the perspective, talent and intuition that lead to attention-getting and business-building work. Bill’s varied experience at multiple agencies has uniquely prepared him to lead client engagements across virtually any business category. From one of the largest agencies in the country to starting his own pioneering Vermont agency, Bill has seen business and agency life from virtually every angle. Client and category experience speak to Bill’s ability to quickly apply the simple principles of human understanding to any and every project. Whether it’s Wrangler or New Balance, Stowe or Ritz Carlton, Keurig or iRobot, Bill asks the simple but often overlooked questions that lead to creative problem solving. Today, Bill leads the creative and strategic teams at HMC Advertising in Richmond, Vermont.

Kirk Membry

Immersive UX

  • Recap

Design Best Practices for Virtual Reality: After 30 years, and a few false starts, Virtual Reality is finally becoming mainstream. And just like the dawn of the Web, there’s a lot of bad experiences out there. Let’s try to skip the “junk phase” in the evolution of VR and utilize some solid UX thinking in our creations. You may have been tasked with creating a robust and amazing virtual experience. What can you do to make it stand out from the competition? From navigation to camera direction, I’ll explain the best practices for both interface and experience design for VR. You will learn how to identify and mitigate disorientation and improve user interaction. I’ll also discuss how to get started with WebVR, explaining the tools and browsers, so those new experiences can be brought to a wider audience via the Web.

About Kirk Membry

Kirk is a Senior Experience Designer at MadPow (madpow.net). With more than 20 years of design experience (IA/UX and Web design/programming), many with Fortune 500 companies such as Dell, IBM, Hitachi GST, Fidelity, Autodesk, and Panasonic, Kirk has seen it all. He’s also an avid photographer who has specialized in 360-degree panoramic images and video for the past 10 years. Some of his work can be seen hanging in the MadPow offices in Portsmouth and Boston.

Sarah Fathallah

Exploratory Research in UX Design

  • Recap

Evaluative research focuses on gaining a deep understanding of the lives of the end users and the contexts in which they use certain products and services. At its core, it’s about challenging and exploring the problem space, before venturing into the solution space. Using real-life examples of digital tools that help people access affordable housing or register to vote, this talk will explore the different tools used for exploratory research, including ethnographic interviews, contextual inquiry, and co-creation activities and prompts. The audience will leave with a better understanding of the types of insights that exploratory research generates, and how they can complement the findings of evaluative or comparative research.

About Sarah Fathallah

Sarah is a freelance designer and researcher, with a passion for applying human-centered design to local and global development. She has worked with Fortune 500 clients, government entities, and non-profits on topics ranging from financial inclusion and consumer protection, to healthcare, and civil and human rights. In her spare time, you will find her volunteering as a teacher, a translator, or a crisis mapper. Sarah is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris and studied design innovation at the Paris Est d.school as well as UX design at General Assembly. She serves on the Board of Directors of SIMLab, an awesome organization striving to make technology work for everyone.

2016 Conference

April 29, 2016

Ethan Marcotte

Opening Keynote

  • Recap

Ethan Marcotte is an independent designer and author, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He coined the term “responsive web design” to describe a new way of designing for the ever-changing Web. Responsive Web Design and Responsive Design: Patterns and Principles, his popular books on the topic, have been widely praised, showing how designers and organizations can leverage the Web’s flexibility to design across mobile, tablet, and desktop—and whatever might come next. Over the years, Ethan has been a featured speaker at many conferences, including An Event Apart, SXSW Interactive, and Webstock. His clientele has included New York Magazine, the Sundance Film Festival, The Boston Globe, and People Magazine. He also cofounded Editorially, a collaborative writing platform.

Everett McKay

Eight Attributes of an Intuitive UI

  • Recap

Having an intuitive UI is a top goal for every design project, yet surprisingly few people have a strong understanding of what this concept really means. Designers are no different. (A quick test: ask some designers to define it. Most likely you won’t be unimpressed by their answers.) By attending this talk, you will learn what it means for a UI to be intuitive. You will learn a practical definition, the attributes required to be intuitive, and the levels of intuitiveness. Ultimately, you will learn how to help your team design UIs that are more self-explanatory and require less training and documentation. You will see these concepts applied to a variety of real design problems. Finally, you will learn that not all UIs need to be intuitive, and when it is a good idea to have unintuitive UI—strategically rather than accidentally.

About Everett McKay

Everett McKay is Principal of UX Design Edge, a user experience design training and consulting company for mobile, web, and desktop applications based in Vermont. Everett’s specialty is UX design training for software professionals who aren’t experienced designers through onsite, public, and virtual courses and workshops. His new book is “UI is Communication: How to Design Intuitive, User Centered Interfaces by Focusing on Effective Communication”, recently published by Morgan Kaufmann.

Jordan LaCount

UX + Sustainable Design

  • Recap

How can we create user experiences that support our planet and its resources? Growth and profit are no longer the only factors to consider in product production. And simply desiring something no longer justifies its necessity. Environmental impact is now a premier consideration in the design of products and spaces. As designers, we are responsible for ensuring that sustainable design does not mean giving up a comfortable and convenient user experience.

Rick Cusick

UX in EdTech

  • Recap

User Experience Design in Educational Technology products can make the difference between positively engaging learners and losing them to distraction. Reading Plus, a Vermont EdTech publisher, has had great success using Agile/UX techniques to build and refine their current product suite. The results have been profound from both an instructional and an experiential perspective. Rick Cusick, CIO of Reading Plus, reviews the strategies and tactics that the Reading Plus team used, their cultural values and how they contributed to the outcomes, and what the team has learned during the course of developing this very successful EdTech product. Rick will also cover the challenges along the way, how the team responded to different needs, and what direction the team is charting moving forward.

About Rick Cusick

Rick Cusick is the Chief Information Officer at Reading Plus, a publishing company based in Winooski that uses research-based technology and training to create engaged, successful silent readers. He manages the product delivery team, oversees the technical infrastructure, and leads the software development process. Combining agile principles, Scrum, and collaborative user experience design, Rick works across teams to build products and features that delight while improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of students. His 15 years of experience in technology include developing marketing automation platforms for some of the world’s biggest brands, teaching web development and networking as an adjunct at Champlain College, and mentoring EdTech startups through Boston’s LearnLaunchX accelerator.

Marguerite Dibble

Game Design Meets UX

  • Recap

Marguerite Dibble is the CEO of GameTheory, a company that uses game design toolkits and mindsets to tackle challenging real-world problems through app development and strategic consulting. Much of GameTheory’s work centers around behavioral modification, designing what is natural and enjoyable for users and seeking to create solutions that are engaging and enjoyable rather than demanding and strenuous. GameTheory has worked to provide unique game-based solutions across healthcare, energy, and financial sectors, creating products and techniques that exist in the sweet spot between logical and the creative.

Cory Tanner

Build Your Own Development Process With PostCSS

  • Recap

A UX Development team should put a good amount of thought into its development process and how HTML/CSS should be structured. I will talk about why PostCSS is a great tool for this and why I built a PostCSS package to be used in new projects. Having a custom made PostCSS package is great but the interesting part is choosing what PostCSS plugins you want to use in your development process and knowing why you need them. The PostCSS package I built is focused on building modular CSS from scratch while using BEM naming conventions and SMACSS modular architecture. The development process is not only about the plugins you use but the rules you give yourself while organizing CSS. For example we only use nesting for pseudo classes and media queries. This is a team preference that we find helps us keep our CSS clean and searchable. Rules like that are what make your process unique. Same goes for PostCSS, you can make unique plugin combinations to meet your exact needs instead of conforming to a prebuilt development process.

About Cory Tanner

Cory is a UX Developer at DockYard, a design-driven software consultancy based out of Boston, MA. As a UX Developer, he has the responsibility to create and maintain organized HTML and DRY CSS on new and existing projects. Anything to do with HTML/CSS fascinates him and he is always looking for new and useful techniques to use in projects. Cory graduated from Pennsylvania College of Technology with a BA in Web Design and Interactive Media.

Gail Swanson

Designer in the Machine

  • Recap

Big organizations have a reputation as stifling and lonely places where design careers sputter. The structure required to become successful on a large scale traditionally left little room for creative exploration. These places are awakening to the value of design. They are looking to designers to transform their cubicled caverns into design led enterprises. Changing culture is hard, especially when you bring people who think differently together. But we already have the skills to get this done. Using the same user centered tactics that we use to design products and services, designers are creating change. Gail will show how to extend design thinking, empathy, and collaboration to thrive as a designer and be a happy part of something big.

About Gail Swanson

Gail Swanson is honored to be serving her country as a UX lead at 18F. She has spent over 15 years guiding teams to look deeper and learn about the people they serve to create technology that fits. Gail’s past work spans a diverse range of industries including financial services, leisure travel, advertising, and even brewery operations. She started her career as a front end developer with an education in fine art. With experience, she formed her creative approach to UX design, molding technology into usable systems. Gail is happiest untangling complexity into simple ideas and instigating office sing-alongs.

Karen McGrane


  • Recap

If the internet is more awesome than it was in 1995, Karen would like to claim a very tiny piece of the credit. For the past 20 years Karen has helped businesses create better digital products through the power of user experience design and content strategy. She is Managing Partner at Bond Art + Science, a UX consultancy she founded in 2006, and formerly VP and National Lead for User Experience at Razorfish. Karen teaches Design Management in the MFA in Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. She co-hosts A Responsive Web Design Podcast with Ethan Marcotte, and is the author of Going Responsive, published in 2015 by A Book Apart. Her first book, Content Strategy for Mobile, was published in 2012.

2015 Conference

June 12, 2015

Eileen Webb

Keynote: Improving the Authoring Experience

  • Recap

Nothing brings UX, IA, design, and content strategy to life like launching a shiny new site: teasers fit neatly without any ellipses, images are cropped perfectly for different screen sizes, and related content is wonderfully relevant. But after a few months, things start to slip as ongoing content maintenance and creation steers the site away from its original pristine vision. We’ll explore how to improve the authoring experience for the people who are creating and maintaining content in the CMS after the site is built. We’ll learn how to communicate the information needed for ongoing support of UX, structured content, information architecture, and design. Most importantly, we’ll talk about how to work with our authors to create an admin experience that helps them do their jobs well.

About Eileen Webb

Eileen Webb is a co-founder and partner at webmeadow, a firm that helps progressive organizations develop content and technology strategies to make the world a better place. Her background is in server-side coding and being that odd person who translates between the marketing and development teams. Webmeadow’s offices are located on a solar-powered farm in northern New Hampshire; her Twitter feed is equal parts content strategy and pictures of poultry.

Jeffrey Pierce

Scaling UX

  • Recap

A wise individual once told me that if I wanted to look smart in meetings, there are few sure-fire ways; 1) Draw Venn diagrams, 2) Repeat the last thing the lead engineer said very, very slowly, 3) Ask everyone to ‘Take a step back’, and most importantly 4) ask ‘Will this scale’ about anything. Databases, personas, text fields. Literally anything. I’ve been asked this question about UX. And my answer is always, “It depends. What do you mean by ‘UX’?”. How very Socratic. In this presentation we’ll discuss approaches that have both worked and failed in attempts to move towards user focused software design. How to grow from that one weird, but passionate, dude / dudette in the corner to having it be the first thing people consider when building a new product or feature. I’ll also touch on what UX is and isn’t in the context of larger companies.

About Jeffrey Pierce

Jeffrey likes analog synthesis, salty Scandinavian candy and medieval church music – which leads to a lot of strange looks and awkward pauses. He has tried to leave his childhood home of Vermont a number of times, with stints in Boston, Chicago and Brooklyn, but the fresh air and fresher cheese pulled him back in. With degrees in both music and technology he spends his time listening and thinking about how people think about listening. His work has varied from building robots to scoring documentaries. Currently, he tries to make computers friendlier as the Director of User Experience Strategy at Dealer.com / Dealertrack. Although he doesn’t like to talk about it, he also used to make website splash pages with Flash.

James A Rosen

Making Design by Committee Work

  • Recap

The phrase “design by committee” summons visions of bloated word processors, clumsy banking websites, and unfocused home pages. But it is possible to leverage the creativity, empathy, and domain knowledge of a group to create great designs. This talk covers research and techniques such as priming and parallel thinking for improving group dynamics and shows how Fastly uses these techniques in our design process.

About James Rosen

James A Rosen is the Lead User Experience Engineer at Fastly. He holds a degree in Information Security from Carnegie Mellon, as well as degrees in Music and Italian Culinary Arts. He prefers his spaghetti all ‘arrabbiata and his code non-spaghetti-like.

Eva Kaniasty

Overcoming Objections to User Research

  • Recap

To resist is human, to test divine! Overcoming objections to user research If UX had a mantra, “Test early and often” could very well be it. In all my years of usability testing, I’ve yet to meet a stakeholder or client who found user feedback useless or wasteful after the fact. And yet, ensuring that research gets a place at the table continues to be a challenge. I continue to hear that there’s “no need,” “no money,” “no time” for research, and I hear it from startups, from agencies, from clients of all shapes and sizes. Why does this still happen? Why is poor user research so often doubted, postponed, or outright dismissed? In this presentation, we’ll look at some stories of why research got cut, from fear of failure and unconscious bias, through organizational inertia and battle fatigue. Once we’ve discovered the roots of the problem, we can design targeted strategies for overcoming resistance and creating processes for giving user feedback its well-deserved priority.

About Eva Kaniasty

Eva Kaniasty is the founder of Red Pill UX, LLC, a user experience consultancy delivering UX strategy, research and interaction design in the Boston area. Eva has improved user experiences in a range of industries, including healthcare, education, financial, and software. She received her Master’s in Human Factors from Bentley University in 2007, serves as President of UXPA Boston, and is a repeat presenter at local and national conferences.

Katie McCurdy

Designing with Empathy

  • Recap

Designing with Empathy You’re under the gun. You have deadlines, developers are waiting on you, and even though you know you should probably talk to your intended users at some point, it just doesn’t feel possible to fit into your workflow. And hey, if Henry Ford had asked his customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse,’ right? Ouch! There are a lot of misunderstandings about what user research actually is, how to do it, its cost, and the value it brings to the product design process. In this talk, Katie covers these basics and presents some specific, interface-level examples of how up-front user research and mid-project usability testing have helped improve designs and create products that people love. You’ll walk away with tips for advocating for and incorporating user research into your next project in a cost-effective way, and you’ll understand the powerful difference between building empathy with your users, and ‘doing what they say.’

About Katie McCurdy

Katie is a User Experience (UX) Designer and Researcher focusing on healthcare. She uses visualization and empathy to empower patients and improve the healthcare experience, and she advocates for user research on all of her projects. She has worked with diverse clients and collaborators including Open mHealth, Medivo, LabCorp, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, WaterAid, and the awesome local Burlington start-up Notabli. Her recent work includes the design of a platform for visualizing and making sense of digital health data, a mobile app and responsive web app for presenting lab results to patients and doctors, a responsive website for eye doctors, a tablet app for viewing lab test results, and helping build the internal design practice at Notabli. Katie holds a Masters of Science in Information with a specialization in Human-Computer Interaction from the University of Michigan School of Information. She lives, skis, hikes, and organizes local healthcare events in Burlington, VT.

Rian van der Merwe

Why Enterprise Software Sucks And How To Unsuck It

  • Recap

Designing for the enterprise is really, really hard. The reason it’s hard is that in most cases the people who buy the software and the people who use the software are completely different, and therefore have completely different needs. The people who buy enterprise software — IT managers, HR managers, etc. — care about things like configurability, control, more features than a competitor, and most of all: the ability to customize the thing just so, so that it fits in with whatever systems already exist. End users care about none of those things. They care about getting a job done as quickly and with as little pain as possible. So how do you design in this kind of hostile environment? How do you provide a good end user experience while also catering to the needs of the business of selling to a different audience? That’s what this talk is about. You’ll learn: How to balance the needs of different product audiences effectively. How to bring user-centered design and Lean UX principles to the slow-moving machine that is the enterprise market. How to turn a sales-driven organization into a product-driven organization (or at least how to co-exist peacefully) Enterprise software has never been this fun.

About Rian van der Merwe

Rian is passionate about designing and building software that people love to use. After spending several years working in Silicon Valley and Cape Town, South Africa, he is now based in Portland, OR. He also blogs and tweets regularly about design, technology, and software development.

Maria Matveeva

Art History, Culture, and Color

  • Recap

In this presentation, we will take a deep look into the meaning of color. We’ll address it from three perspectives: The meaning of colors changed throughout art history. We’ll review a few surprising examples that make for a good conversation starter at a bar or at the museum. Colors’ meaning is deeply rooted in culture. Colors we call “basic” don’t even have a name in some historical contexts. Any color can have a different meaning once you change its context. We’ll look into some culturally charged colors and how they could cause problems for UX design. Color use in branding and UX design for web applications. When to use color conventions like red for “error” and green for “success” – and when to go around these best practices to accommodate other considerations. We’ll look at Facebook, Dribble, Netflix and Spotify and analyze their use of color. This talk will give you an appreciation of the many ways you can think about selecting a color, plus a few art historical anecdotes to share with colleagues.

About Maria Matveeva

Maria Matveeva is a UX Designer at DockYard.com, a design driven software consultancy in Boston. After 5+ years managing design for a nonprofit organization, Maria took a year off to study in Montreal, and then moved into a specialized role as UX designer. (Before that, she just called it thinking). She helps organize the meetups and camp for UX East.

Michael Tedeschi

Incorporating Drawing into the UX Process

  • Recap

Picking up a pencil or whiteboard marker can be daunting, but sketching can be one of the best tools in a designer’s arsenal. Through this session, we’ll review the positive impact sketching can have on the UX process. We’ll work through sketching methods for different screen sizes to allow for rapid paper prototyping. We’ll also review how to organize and run a collaborative sketching session with colleagues and clients. You’ll learn… how to sketch effectively; how to design and lead a collaborative sketching session; how to engage your team to draw out their ideas; and how to use paper prototypes to test quickly.

About Michael Tedeschi

Mike is a UI/UX designer and developer with eight years experience in the industry. He specializes in art direction, front-end development, and user interface and experience design for digital projects. Prior to founding Interactive Mechanics, he spent several years designing award-winning interactives and applications for Azavea (Lead UI/UX Designer) and Night Kitchen Interactive (Interactive Designer).

Sha Hwang

Closing Keynote

  • Recap

Let’s close the day by talking about our responsibilities and opportunities as designers. Let’s talk about the pace of fashion and the promise of infrastructure. Let’s talk about systematic failure — failure without malice. Let’s talk about the ways to engage in this messy and complex world. Let’s throw shade on fame and shine light on the hard quiet work we call design.

About Sha Wang

Hi, my name is Sha. I’m an information designer and technologist based mostly in Brooklyn. For the past year I’ve been working with a team brought in to redesign Healthcare.gov. My background is in architecture, but my work over the last seven years has been in design, data visualization, and entrepreneurship. I’ve worked at the amazing Stamen Design building projects for CNN, MTV, Flickr, and Adobe, and have also built work for the New York Times, CUP, and the Harvard Library. I’ve also started a few companies: a startup called Movity with my friends Eric Wu and Vaughn Koch that was later acquired by Trulia, and more recently a generative jewelry company Meshu and an animated gif printing company Gifpop with my friend Rachel Binx. I enjoy speaking about design, technology, and entrepreneurship, and have given talks at the wonderful Eyeo Festival, Visualized, Webstock, and the White House Datapalooza. I also enjoy mentoring designers pursuing entrepreneurship, or architects looking to escape. You can find more of my work online here, or say hello on Twitter here.


May 3, 2019

The fifth annual UX Burlington will take place Friday May 3, 2019. Be sure to sign up to our mailing list to stay updated on announcements, schedule, and when tickets go on sale.

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UX Burlington is an annual single day, conference in Burlington, Vermont.

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