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The Top 3 Reasons to Attend UX Fest


UX Fest is coming on June 4th, and we couldn’t be more excited about it! And we think you should be too. We get it though, it’s a full day outside of the office. But it’s a full day outside of the office! And as many product leaders have said over and over again, Nothing Interesting Happens In The Office.

For those who are looking for more reasons to spend a day connecting with and learning from your product and design colleagues, we give you the Top 3 Reasons to Attend UX Fest.

#1 The Roster of Speakers is Legit


UX Fest Speakers

We started talking about bringing back UX Fest late last fall. Or was it early last winter? We are in New England where it’s still in the mid-30s in April, so forgive us if the seasons blend together for us. The first two things I asked the team were:

  1. When are we going to host the event and
  2. Who is on our speaker wish list?

Aside from the obvious logistical impact of question #1, I think we were all more excited about seeing how #2 would unfold.

A couple of things guided our thinking as we curated our list. First, we wanted speakers who were engaging. UX Fest was not going to be a day filled with 50 minute Powerpoint presentations followed by 5 minutes of Q&A. How would we know they were engaging? We had to personally know, have worked with, and/or have heard all of them speak at one time or another. The final list of speakers knows their topics and will inspire you with their insights and stories of personal and professional growth, leadership, and lessons learned from careers in design, product, and other professions.

Second, we wanted diversity – of backgrounds, cultures, gender, and roles. Diversity brings so many amazing and different perspectives to the fore. Unless your product or organization serves a single segment of the population, how can you ensure you are solving for your users’ real problems without diversity? There are so many problems in need of solutions that go undiscovered simply because we don’t have the knowledge or experience of their existence without the benefit of diversity.

We are really proud of the list of product leaders, design professionals, and inspiring individuals who have agreed to join us at UX Fest. Following are just three you will hear from on June 4th.

. . .

Paul Wylie quote

Surviving by the narrowest of margins has been a big part of Paul Wylie’s life. He had never placed higher than 9th in three trips to the world championships, and people had begun to doubt his chances of even making the 1992 olympic figure skating team, much less have success. “People said, ‘You’re done. You’re finished,'” Wylie said. “Judges called my parents and said I was done.” And then something happened to change his path a mere 35 days before the biggest competition of his life. Twenty-three years later, he survived an even bigger challenge by the narrowest of margins – sudden cardiac arrest. The experience left him re-focusing on life’s greater purposes after being revived by two workout buddies and over 450 chest compressions.

. . .

Janae Sharp quote

One million Americans lose their physician to suicide every year. Physician suicide rates are 70% higher than rates in other professions. More than half of U.S. physicians report experiencing burnout. The practice of medicine has become more clerical than clinical with EHRs and increasing regulation contributing to a growing “hassle factor.” Something has to change for the better, and technology is a potential catalyst to combat the loneliness of burnout and grief at the loss of our doctors. Janae Sharp, a survivor of physician suicide loss, is on a mission to advocate for this change, to care for the caregivers, so that others are not similarly impacted.

. . .

Ben Rabner quote

Human neurobiology and behaviors are way more advanced and complicated than the consumer technology we obsess over. With so much research and evidence to draw from, we now have more understanding of this biological technology than ever before. In his thoughtful and unusual talk, Ben Rabner will lift the veil on how Adobe has quietly been creating memorable experiences that draw on our most primal human nature.

And you’ll hear from nine other amazing speakers who are building successful companies and products that are delivering amazing experiences for their users! All of them on one stage, one at a time with no FOMO and no panels.

#2 Connect with Others Who Share Your Passion

UX Fest Attendees

The diversity of roles and companies present at UX Fest gives us a new understanding of what user experience means to different people and what it can be with a new perspective. It provides us with an opportunity to learn from one another and increases the likelihood of making beautiful products and experiences.

People from all roles within the product team attend UX Fest to get reinvigorated, to connect, and to have the one-on-one conversations that they don’t normally get to have at conferences. UX Fest attendees come to learn and share ideas with one another. If any one of these roles is under-represented our experience would be lessened by their absence.

UX Fest will spark conversations as you share insights with your colleagues, mentors, and leaders you will want to follow long after the event ends.

Celebrate the people creating amazing experiences and advancing the craft.

Here’s what attendees had to say at the last UX Fest:

UX Fest tweets

#3 You Will Learn and Be Inspired at UX Fest

UX Fest agenda

People attend conferences for a multitude of reasons: To network with others in the same industry or role. The see what other companies and product teams are building in the same or adjacent markets. To visit with colleagues, family and friends in host cities (Watertown, it’s the new destination city). And of course to make new connections with potential customers and partners.

At UX Fest, people come to learn – a lot! Regardless of your role, level, or experience, you are going to leave UX Fest invigorated with new ideas. Several overarching themes have emerged from the list of topics that will be explored by our speakers. I’ve highlighted just a few of them below.

The art and science of curating, designing, and building amazing experiences

Gilbert Lee

As Chief Product Officer of the world’s fastest growing technology learning platform, Gilbert Lee knows that his primary job is to provide a “problem understanding framework” to his 25 product teams. He also knows that teams perform best when given problems to solve, rather than being handed solutions to execute. In his talk, Lee will show you how any company, using the company’s mission as a starting point, can build a problem framework to deliver higher quality solutions.



Perry Hewitt

Most of us can relate to the challenge of the CEO Swoop and Poop. What are the ways organizations can develop and defend a culture of product leadership? And how can you, as experience designers, elevate and translate the importance and impact of your work to the C-Suite? Perry Hewitt will explain how you can use creative, data-driven, and organizational behavior approaches to ensure the best experience wins.


Building teams and promoting a culture of leadership, design, and diversity

The product leader’s job is to curate the right team, provide an environment for success, align the user problems with the product vision and then facilitate conversations to help connect the dots that allow the whole team to design the solutions together.

In order to build products people love in today’s fast-moving world we need to be experts on all of this as well as design, engineering, and machine learning. Since no one person can have all that information, it’s critical that we stop worrying about titles and build cross-functional teams who combine all this knowledge and experience with the autonomy to execute. In his talk, Martin Eriksson will show you the benefits of thinking cross-functionally and how to set up teams for success this way – whether you’re a leader or a team member.



Julia Austin

The learnings product teams gather from direct user feedback and testing prototypes is often underrated and too often discarded once they begin developing at scale. In reality, the need to talk to users – different users in different contexts – lasts beyond the initial phase. Forgetting to talk to your target audience can lead to building products and experiences that fail to delight, or worse, building the wrong thing altogether. Product teams must continue to test as they develop and continue to validate as they evolve. Julia Austin will describe real-world case studies of what can go wrong when feedback ends once development begins.


Radical connection, resilience, and focusing on a greater purpose

Designing and delivering engaging products and experience requires listening to your users, this much we know. But what if we took it a step further? What if listening involved making a commitment to exploring and actually building a connection with others? A radical connection to truly understand their problems and their needs.

Andrew Foresthoefel

Listening is an endangered skill that is “hovering near the brink of extinction at this divided hour when it is needed most” according to Andrew Forsthoefel. It is not a skill that any of us is born with, nor is it a capacity that we inevitably acquire with age. It is a practice that demands an apprenticeship from which there isn’t a single moment’s rest. Like any form of communication, listening must be learned. And all it took for Andrew to learn was to walk 40,000 miles with a sign on his back and the country as his classroom.

We hope UX Fest will be your classroom on June 4th. Join us to learn from one another!

Register now

What to know more about UX Fest before jumping in? We’ve been writing about it a lot.

Author Heath Umbach

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