Why We’re Excited for the Forge Conference

For the uninitiated, Forge Conference is Philadelphia’s Premiere UX & Product Design Conference. The event is hosted by O3 World and this year, Arcweb Technologies is proud to be a design partner. (Check out a sneak peak of our designs!)

Here’s how Forge Conference is being positioned: “Whether they’re speaking from the stage or sitting side-by-side, our speakers and attendees are the designers, developers, and innovators driving some of the most creative and impactful work on the web. Forge Conference is a unique opportunity to connect with these talented folks to celebrate both challenges and successes, and expand our community.”

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This year’s Forge Conference is gathering UX, product design and product development experts from across the globe from organizations like Facebook, Slack, Comcast and even NASA. These are the people on the bleeding edge of technology, shaping the digital landscape all around us—and the Forge Conference is where you get to peer behind their innovation curtain. So get your tickets ASAP!

Now that you’ve heard the elevator pitch, here’s a quick perspective from Arcweb Technologies designer Nicole Arasim, a veteran Forge Conference attendee, to further convince you this is a can’t miss event…

2015 Forge Conference  Highlights

I had an opportunity to attend Forge Conference last year and I left feeling incredibly inspired. I talked about it for a good while afterwards, wove its lessons into my work and wrote up a summary to share with my entire design team. I knew that day that I would attend again in 2016.

Big Spaceship CEO Michael Lebowitz kicked things off last year with a talk about how his company does not have typical defined job expectations. Employees can play more than one role in the company if they want. (Intriguing, right?) Lebowitz believes this breeds dedication and more passionate design. He referenced a young employee who stepped up to fix something she thought needed improvement. That is the kind of workplace attitude he fosters. It’s thought-provoking to hear how other forward thinking companies structure themselves.

It was great to hear from some UX designers as well. Natalie Be’er from HUGE talked about how every home page you see on the web nowadays looks identical in structure, and many people never even see it because they use a direct link to the content they want. She asked the question: “Is the home page still important?” Be’er suggested giving homepages more value through strategies like making the main content double as the navigation, instead of hiding it behind a hamburger menu. I loved hearing another designer’s take on this.

I also loved Amritha Prasad from UBER. It was exciting to hear from someone at a company I admire. I noted her every word because I was so curious how a design team for a company with millions of users works. It was impressive to hear her speak about the quality standards that the design team at UBER upholds. They are always striving to raise the bar by being eternally inquisitive, testing every idea in the real world before jumping to conclusions, exposing all designs in the early stages to be open to critique, and by continually iterating. Prasad emphasized how the designer’s job is to always dive deeper in the search of solutions to problems. This happens through testing and communication with both team members and users. She urges her team to never willingly accept solutions just because they match the ask or are easy and quick. Raising the bar is asking “why?” and figuring out if the ask is reasonable.

What I’m Looking Forward to at Forge Conference 2016

This year, I am even more excited to see so many interesting speakers on the line up. The person I am looking forward to the most though is Diogenes Brito, a product designer at Slack and recent feature on Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business” list. I’m curious to hear how things work at a company whose product I (and probably everyone else in the Forge audience) use all day, every day.

First Time Forge-er Perspective

So that was the take from a returning Forge-er. But what about some thoughts from someone who hasn’t attended?

I’m a relative newcomer to the Philly tech scene, despite living and working in the area for quite some time. I have never attended Forge Conference before and to be completely honest, I had never even heard of it before starting at Arcweb Technologies. My first exposure to it was through Nicole, who shared some thoughts on last year’s conference during my first few weeks at Arcweb Technologies. Her notes were great to read through and they whet my appetite for hearing these speakers first-hand. To me though, Forge Conference is its message: A collection of the movers and shakers of the product design industry sharing their thoughts on how to get stuff done through innovation, determination, and hard work. It’s an opportunity to learn first-hand from experts and real world examples, instead of through articles and videos.

Here’s What I’m Looking Forward to the Most

While I’m excited for the camaraderie, collaboration and networking opportunities Forge Conference provides, the keynote I’m most interested in (total understatement) is Steve Hillenius, of freakin’ NASA. Yes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration! Hillenius is a UX Researcher and Designer at NASA. His work involves “designing and building software for astronauts to plan and run their own missions in deep space where connectivity back to Earth is limited and researching ways to build usable technology to make training and space operations more efficient.”

Doesn’t get much cooler than that.

I have always been fascinated by space from both the astronomy and aeronautics angles and hearing how challenges of interstellar proportions are handled through design is unfathomably exciting. I CANNOT WAIT and neither should you!

Buy your tickets to Forge Conference now before it’s too late. Better yet, get your boss to cover the cost, for the professional development of course.

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