August 26, 2010 — What do you call a conference on Web design and usability, tailored to people working in higher education?
Hint: mash up the ".edu" Internet domain suffix and UI, a popular abbreviation for "user interface." That's the story behind the name of the edUi Conference – the second annual installment of which will happen Nov. 8-9 at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville, co-sponsored by the University of Virginia, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Headscape.
The conference will feature some of the "rock stars of the Web design world," with tips and strategies tailored to the unique challenges of producing websites and applications for universities, libraries, museums, K-12 schools and government, said lead organizer Trey Mitchell, webmaster for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
The conference's speakers – experts in the fields of user interface design, usability research, website accessibility, Web programming and social media – will provide tips useful for any Web professional, Mitchell said, but most will also provide added insight on issues specific to institutions of learning.
"It's pretty unique to have a conference on Web design and development that caters to higher education," Mitchell said. "Seeing these headline speakers would typically require traveling to a city like Austin, Las Vegas or Seattle, and probably paying two or three times as much."
The conference will kick off with a talk on "Beyond Green: Designing Our Sustainable Future" by David B. Berman, a consultant with more than 25 years of experience in graphic, interface and accessibility design, the national ethics chair of Canada's Society of Graphic Designers and the author of "Do Good Design: How Designers Can Change the World."
The keynote talk on "Battling Bureaucracy" will be presented by Paul Boag, host of a popular Web design podcast at boagworld.com and author of "Website Owners Manual." He will address issues such as design by committee, "project creep" and internal politics that can delay projects and derail budgets. .
The full conference schedule is available at eduiconf.org/program/.
Workshops and presentations are organized around four themes: Web 101, industry case studies of problems and solutions, Web-design tools and cutting-edge issues.
For those who register before Sept. 17, the conference will cost $475, or $400 for U.Va. employees, who can pay for it with their employee educational benefit through a separate registration process. After Sept. 17, the prices increase to $575, or $500 for U.Va. employees. Registration details are available at edui2010.eventbrite.com/.
"This is a great use of the employee personal education benefit, especially in departments with no budget for conferences," said Zach Wheat, director of web services and interactive media at U.Va.
Conference organizers hope to build on the success of last year's conference, which drew 185 attendees from as far away as Florida, Massachusetts and Illinois.
"The biggest compliment last year was the number of folks who assumed the conference had been going for years," Mitchell said. This year's conference attracted topic and speaker proposals from across the U.S., as well as Canada, Germany and the U.K.
"The networking opportunities were great," said Deke Shrum, assistant director of interactive media at U.Va. "I was surprised by how much I got out of it. The user interface world is exploding, and these guys are on the bleeding edge."
The conference is organized and planned by a team of Web professionals from U.Va., the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and a number of other businesses and schools.
Last year's conference was a finalist for the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council's "Spotlight Award" for a new venture that draws significant positive attention on the region.
"We are proud to be a sponsor of this great event," said Mike McPherson, U.Va. associate vice president and deputy chief information officer.
edUi 2010 features 35 speakers, including:
• Michael Stoner, president and partner of mStoner, an authority on integrating marketing, communications and technology. During his 30-year career as a communicator and consultant, he has served more than 200 educational institutions, nonprofits and businesses on four continents. He has spoken at hundreds of professional conferences and leads seminars on developing and using new media in institutional marketing and communications. He has written chapters in several books, and his articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the Chronicle of Higher Education.
• Stephanie Sullivan, founder and principal of W3Conversions, a Web professional since 1999. A sought-after speaker, author and coding guru, she's called upon to solve especially perplexing problems for high-profile websites. Her true passion is creating impeccable markup and code behind the design, and teaching others how to do the same. She is a leader in the Web industry who inspires others to strive for higher standards in their work. She serves as co-lead of the influential Web Standards Project Adobe Task Force, sits on the International Advisory Board for the Web Developer's and Designer's Journal, and is an Adobe Community Expert.
• Greg Rewis, Principal Evangelist for Creative Suite Web Premium at Adobe Systems. Greg spends more than 200 days a year on the road, talking with customers, giving product demonstrations at trade shows and speaking at industry conferences. Rewis put his first home page online in 1994. His career has taken him around the world, from the early days of desktop publishing, to a start-up in Hamburg, Germany, the glory days of the Web at Macromedia, and finally his current role at Adobe.