Jared Spool kicked off the day discussing what skills designers and their organizations must have to deliver great experience design. He was followed by six compelling case studies from real UXers from around the Atlanta area. The day wrapped up with Mad*Pow’s Design Director, Adam Connor.

You can access bios (and read presentations as they become available) by clicking on each speaker’s name.


Historic Academy of Medicine
875 West Peachtree Street, NW Atlanta, GA
(At the corner of 7th Street and West Peachtree Street)


  • 9:00 AM

    Registration and breakfast

  • 9:45 AM

    Opening Keynote: It's a Great Time to Be a UX Designer

    There’s never been a better time to be a designer. After years of wishing we’d have the recognition and appreciation for the value we bring, we’re now highly sought after for our talents and skills. A growing number of organizations have seen success through great design, from Apple to Cirque du Soleil to the White House. Others now want to get the same results. The demand for great designers has never been better.

    Yet, as the proverb says, “Be careful for what you wish for, lest it become true.” Now that everyone expects us to deliver great things, are we ready? While we’re presented with more opportunities than ever, we also have increased challenges.

    Creating great experiences needs a new breed of designer. One that can handle all the skills involved, from visual design to coding. Some might even call it a ‘unicorn’, but these creatures aren’t mythical. In fact, they are alive and thriving in today’s design teams.

    About Jared Spool

    Jared Spool took UX to a new level in 1988 when he launched UIE. And by, "to a new level," we mean "validated UX as a vital component of our work, then spent the next 25 years conducting research and writing tirelessly to keep validating it."

    Jared often can be found onstage, where he captivates crowds with stunning data that reveal how UX can affect a company’s bottom line. He's helped thousands of companies worldwide to increase their profits, identify interaction failures, and integrate UX research and design into their product development cycles.

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  • 10:45 AM


  • 11:00 AM

    Selling the Design

    Making a new app work within its ramp-up period when you anticipate millions of users on day one—March Madness is Klemens’ version of healthcare.gov. The app served 120 million streams in its first three days.

    Millions of unhappy users is bad for the brand and a lost opportunity. Klemens’ UX team had the tricky but vital charge of balancing business objectives with cash flow.

    Klemens will tell you how:

    • Understanding what drives a team can help you anticipate when to negotiate and how to manage differing opinions of stakeholders
    • A mental framework will provide boundaries to discuss design with your client
    • Previous digital experiences can frame a design discussion
    • Teams can arrive at design solutions that serve the present and provide a foundation for years ahead

    About Klemens Wengert

    Klemens Wengert acts as chief cook and janitorial staff for his son, Thor. He’s also the Senior UX Architect for Turner Broadcasting and has been serving in the interactive space for 16 years. His work includes interactive TV, responsive sites and apps for phones and tablets. Klemens’ work has received three nominations and one Emmy. He creates synchronization applications between TVs and devices for the Big Bang Theory, Falling skies, Leverage, and the hugely popular March Madness on Demand.

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  • 11:30 AM

    How to Win UX Advocates and Influence Stakeholders

    Melinda Baker and her team were hired to redesign the research section of cancer.org. The original goals of the project were met, but not before there was pushback from stakeholders, project stalls, a team huddle to define audience, and much time spent building trust and promoting communication.

    What evolved was a team that learned from each other and delivered on goals despite obstacles. The result is one of Melinda’s most successful projects, a pliable framework, and accessible content that tells the right story—the story of cancer research and saving lives.

    Melinda will show you how they did it.

    You’ll walk away knowing the importance of:

    • Understanding the problem you’re trying to solve
    • Understanding stakeholders and what they’re trying to achieve
    • Listening to stakeholder questions
    • Providing information and education on UX Sharing—in an inclusionary way—your expertise

    About Melinda Baker

    Melinda Baker has been making experiences better for over two decades. No—she’s not a hotel concierge, silly. Her experience is in usability and design, which includes online banking, online bill payment, reverse logistics, accounting, b2b procurement, portals, intranets, and consumer and corporate web sites.

    Making things work for people, accessibility, usability and simplicity in design are what light Melinda’s fire. She’s currently at the the American Cancer Society helping people get well, stay well, find cures, and fight back against cancer.

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  • 12:00 PM

    The Power of Empowering Stakeholders

    Robert partners with editorial, design and product groups to create design processes for CNN’s digital experiences. With an eye on the possibilities of the evolving digital news landscape, he and his team have been working on a new responsive design and framework for CNN. The team shifted their approach, their thinking, and how they facilitate discussions with partners around core UX values.

    Robert will tell you how this shift benefited his team and the project.

    Robert will share how:

    • Great user experiences take more than interaction and visual chops
    • Building a toolkit of techniques can help you educate and empower stakeholders
    • Keeping the process of product development transparent and clear to stakeholders can transform projects

    About Robert Hamburger

    Even vegetarians are sure to love Robert Hamburger’s delicious insights. Robert is a User Experience Architect within CNN's Design and User Experience group - a multidisciplinary group of designers responsible for building more effective, collaborative and supportive relationships with Design teams across CNN and better reinforcing CNN TV into the overall digital brand.

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  • 12:30 PM


  • 1:30 PM

    Structural Systems to Survive a Redesign

    Modularization is increasingly used by successful shipyards and automotive factories. Architecture missed the trend, and the industry—with its slow, expensive, unpredictable approach— suffers the consequences.

    Using a systematic approach with large web applications can make a dramatic impact on how you design, build, and how users perceive your work. Six months after its release, New MailChimp is reaping the benefits of adopting a modular approach.

    Learn from MailChimp’s journey. Federico will tell you how:

    • Building a web app with patterns gives you consistency in UX, look and feel
    • Using patterns helps speed up design and reduces tension between developers and designers
    • Reusable code means that time spent improving patterns yields exponential improvements
    • The dark corners of your app start to get some love because reusing patterns is cheap

    About Federico Holgado

    Federico Holgado is the kind of uncle who shamelessly tricks his nephew into eating soy by telling him it’s chicken. He’s the UX Developer Lead at MailChimp where he draws rectangles, scribbles, writes code and occasionally asks for a pinch in case he’s dreaming it all up. Fed calls Atlanta home, where he cycles, tinkers with technology, and mails chimps.

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  • 2:00 PM

    The Cartography of Experience

    Project journeys don’t always take the path we anticipate or end up where we expect. Experience teaches us to be nimble and resourceful, to find creative ways to advocate for the user and deliver value to clients and stakeholders.

    Last year, Josh Cothran and his team at GTRI began a six-month initiative to develop a customer portal for a state agency. Over the course of the project, the team encountered multiple challenges. There were mistakes and lessons learned, but the team found ways to reorient and deliver value to the sponsor, even as the landscape of the project changed.

    Josh will share how:

    • Sound user research and design are like the cartography of explorers
    • An off-course journey doesn’t mean failure
    • Approaching projects with open minds, integrity, determination, and creativity makes us explorer-like

    About Josh Cothran

    Josh Cothran is an Eagle Scout sanctioned to award you with the UX Explorer badge. And by badge, we mean stronger-than-oak handshake. A User Experience Designer at Georgia Tech Research Institute, he conducts research and designs tools to inform and empower users; his projects have included research and design for a Medicaid member portal, research into providers’ use of health IT, interactive visualizations of healthcare spending, and an online tool for vaccination scheduling. Josh holds a BS in Computer Science and MS in Human-Computer Interaction from Georgia Tech.

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  • 2:30 PM

    Learn to Call Your Own Baby Ugly and Other Lessons in UX Entrepreneurship

    Sometimes it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but taking our own UX medicine is worth the results and the only way to make our products--and their users--thrive.

    From her work as a product UX advisor and entrepreneur, Colleen learned it’s one thing to advise and help others with user experience; it’s another to invest your own time, budget, and effort in a user experience process for your own product. Colleen will tell us how this shift in thinking transformed her process and its success.

    You’ll leave knowing that:

    • Incorporating UX steps into an agile product development process is possible and beneficial
    • Microcopy decisions are major decisions
    • Planning a useful and usable dashboard requires good content and design thinking
    • When you’re both the product owner and the UX expert, sometimes you have to call your own “baby” ugly
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  • 3:00 PM


  • 3:15 PM

    Closing Keynote: Discuss Design Without Losing Your Mind

    Getting feedback from clients, teams, and stakeholders can be terrifying. We’ve all had our designs berated during painful meetings that result in nothing actionable or useful.

    Well wipe your brow, because critiques—and the language for discussing design—are an important part of our growth as designers. After all, progress comes from understanding why something is the way it is, then examining how it meets or doesn’t meet desired goals.

    Fortunately, you’ll learn how to facilitate helpful discussions and move ideas forward from one of the best teachers in the business: Adam Connor.

    You’ll walk away with:

    • Methods for doing critique, plus how it can make us better communicators
    • Tools for focusing and facilitating discussions, even with difficult people
    • A sense of where critique falls in your design process
    • Tips for shaping feedback into powerful design iterations

    So if overcoming an endless barrage of opinions has thwarted your design progress in the past, then this talk is a must-attend. Get the techniques to make critique a positive experience for everyone involved.

    About Adam Connor

    Adam Connor never tires of explaining why collaboration and critique are critical elements of the design process. And this is a perfectly awesome characteristic of an experience design director at Mad*Pow.

    Adam also is a renowned artist and illustrator with more than a decade of experience in creating digital designs. He speaks regularly on the power of critiques at industry conferences from IA Summit to Web 2.0, and his vocal support for Design Studios continues to positively influence the way designers work today.

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  • 4:15 PM

    Unwind and meet your peers at our networking social

    First drink is on us at Hudson Grille!

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