Join us at Midwest UX 2014
“Are you feeling crazy?” That’s the moment I remember when working with Lydia Whitehead after we got our Master degrees in the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. We received an invite to apply to host Midwest UX. It asked, “Is your city ready to host Midwest UX?” Lydia and I agreed that this just might be the push Indianapolis needed to join our tech/design/startup communities. Something to rally behind. We felt crazy.
So, we put a team together. Tony Dewan and Chris Hughes came on board. We set forth to submit a proposal to bring the Midwest UX conference to Indianapolis. We worked very hard to fact find, research, and understand the Indianapolis community. We researched conferences all over. With this info we ideated and crafted a vision for the conference. We packaged it all up into a document we felt represented the community and our capabilities. After an interview with the founding members of Midwest UX, we held our breath as they took some time to decide (and sent them some cupcakes). Soon enough, we found out: we were selected to host 2014!
So What Is Midwest UX 2014?
I’m sure you’re wondering what is Midwest UX (MWUX14)? It’s a non-proﬁt enterprise. Conference organizers and producers are all volunteers each year. This is the fourth year for the conference. It moves to different locations each year to helps foster growth and excitement in the hosting User Experience (UX) community and the Midwest. Its first two years were held in Columbus, OH, and last year was hosted in Grand Rapids, MI. It’s a bit of a grass roots initiative to build stronger design/tech/ux communities in Midwest cities. We can’t express how much Indy is honored to have been selected and host this year.
Developing a Mission
For the past year, our team has been working super hard to plan an excellent experience for Midwest UX 2014. We’re very excited that we’ve crafted a conference that’s geared towards user experience designers, but also covers topics relevant to engineers, startups, product managers, content strategists, marketers, and more.
We settled on a bit of dual content topic for MWUX14. In our research, we found lots of conferences with talks and experiences that were just too similar to each other. Bottom line, we wanted to change the conference experience a bit. Not only do we want you to know what’s going on in the UX field right now, we want you to learn what’s next in the field of user experience. Emerging technologies, wearables, Internet of Things (IoT), etc — how will these things impact the human experiences designers will be making in the future? How will they impact careers? How we need to adjust our own career paths to lead and change with what’s forthcoming in our industry? But we also learned there’s a third industrial revolution going on – it’s called the Maker movement.
So combine what’s next and making, that’s our conference mission. To tell you how things are changing and what you need to know.
The conference features rich content from 31 speakers that are talking about what’s next in user experience and making. We’ve brought in the UX industry’s best all-stars such as Mark Rolston, Jared Spool, Peter Morville, Stephen Anderson, and Lisa Welchman to tell attendees exactly that. We also make sure around 30% of our speaking slots are given to new speakers who would like to gain experiences speaking to larger groups of industry peers. The speakers will also be attending the conference itself so networking connections can be made and careers can be grown.
We’re creating intentional spaces for attendees to make things and interact and collaborate in new ways with new technologies. These MakeSpaces are a chance to break out of the bubble of leaning back and absorbing conference content, and instead play an active role in engaging in the conference themes. You’ll have the opportunity to build things with LittleBits and Inventibles.
One of the great things about conferences is meeting new people, building relationships, and networking. To foster those interactions, we’ve planned a welcome party, a movie screening of the Kickstarter project *Maker *at the IMAX, and an after party. We’re so excited that local Indy natives will have the opportunities to network with regional and national UX/design/tech/startup professionals.
I’m really excited and very grateful to be a part of the organizing team for Midwest UX 2014. In the past year I’ve learned so much about myself, our city, and applying UX practices to conference planning.
I’d love to see you at Midwest UX 2014 this year. As we start to switch to a design-driven development practice at SEP, all this information will be extremely applicable to you as an engineer. Things you learn at the conference will be immediately applicable in your work, inspire you about new capabilities, and give you context as to how expectations of users will change as we make products in the future.
I hope to see you there!