Midwest UX navigates to Grand Rapids


Midwest UX 2013 organizers meet up to plan the regional event being hosted Grand Rapids. Photo via fb.com

How do you interact with your kitchen, your phone or your office space?

This fall, discover how makers and designers study how we identify with the places in our lives to create the best possible user experience with the most common things around us.

Examining “Place”

Midwest UX 2013 is taking place in Grand Rapids, Oct. 17-19, and registration is open.

The three day, volunteer-run event combines inspiring talks with hands-on activities presented by regional professionals and international experts.

Organizers are encouraging attendees to register sooner than later, saying that they are expecting a sold out crowd of 450.

“This is the go-to event for user experience designers, and we’re excited that it’s moving from Columbus, Ohio, to debut in Grand Rapids this year,” said Midwest UX organizer Erik Dahl. “The theme of ‘Place’ is a perfect way to highlight West Michigan as the historical hub of the global furniture industry and to show regional designers what this means with decades of influence by office furniture giants like Steelcase, Herman Miller and Haworth.”

The conference will feature several keynotes and 18 session speakers, eight workshops and a panel discussion with furniture design leaders.

All sessions and workshops will take place at Kendall College of Art and Design, Midwest UX 2013’s education partner.


Attendees will also have the opportunity to partake in excursions that will include stops at West Michigan businesses, educational sites, community centers and other destinations where hosts will share examples and new approaches to creating meaning for people through a designed experience.

A partial list of excursion locations has been released so far: Start Garden, Grid 70, Wealthy Street Theater, The Rapid, The Factory, The Meyer May House, Brewery Tour, SiTE:Lab, Grand Rapids Public Museum and Grand Rapids Public Museum Archives.

Keynote headliners

Urban Institute for Contemporary Design will host the event’s keynote speakers.

Abby Covert is an independent information architect working and living in New York City. Prior to striking out on her own, Covert served as director of strategic planning and user experience at DraftFCB. Her portfolio includes Sharpie and Herman Miller. She is an active mentor to the design community, a highly regarded speaker and writes her popular blog under the pseudonym Abby the IA.

Karl Fast is a Kent State University professor and user experience designleader. Fast teaches information architecture, information visualization and human-information interaction. He is a founding member of the Information Architecture Institute.

Christina Wodtke most recently led the creation of a social network/gaming platform as a general manager of Zynga.com. Before Zynga, she held senior positions at Myspace, LinkedIn and Yahoo! She currently advises startups, teaches and speaks at conferences worldwide.

UX sponsors

Atomic Object, Kent State University, Mighty in the Midwest, Mutually Human Software, People Design, SoftwareGR and Vitamin T are sponsoring Midwest UX 2013.

“Atomic builds better software products by blending UX and agile practices,” said Shawn Crowley, Atomic Object vice president. “Our support of Midwest UX aligns with our vision of making the Midwest, and specifically Michigan, a leader in innovation, design and technology.”


Midwest UX 2013 conference activities — keynotes, sessions and excursions — take place Oct. 18-19 and cost $350.

An extra day of hands-on workshop instruction is available to attendees Oct. 17 for an additional $100, plus materials cost if needed.

People can register for the event online.

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