Penn State Web Conference


I had a wonderful opportunity a few weeks ago. I spoke at the Penn State Web Conference. I had no idea how much fun I would have, and how much I would learn. The planning committee put together a great program that exceeded my expectations.


The highlights of the conference for me were the two keynotes. Luke W (@lukew) and Ethan Marcotte (@beep) are web design icons, and they both had great presentations on Mobile First and Responsive Web Design, respectively.

Luke’s keynote, in particular, had an immediate impact. I knew things were trending to mobile, but I had never given much consideration to mobile-first design except in specific instances. Luke completely changed my mind. He backed up his case with remarkable statistics about how people are accessing the web. I’ll never design anything again without giving hard consideration to mobile first.

Ethan’s presentation had a personal touch, which I thought was a nice change. I’ve been a fan of responsive design for a while, but seeing what Ethan (and crew) did with the Boston Globe redesign was enlightening. The amount of effort and thought that went into this redesign is awesome, and the user experience is much improved for it.


I had the opportunity to co-present with two colleagues and friends, Stevie Rocco (@stevier) and Reuben Tozman (@reubentozman). On day one, Reuben and I spoke about Intelligent Content (presentation). On day two, Stevie and I spoke about Copyright and Creative Commons.

The Lighter Side

As with any conference, I not only go to learn, but to network and, hopefully, have an experience. This trip didn’t let me down. I flew into Pittsburgh (my first visit to the Steel City) and attended a Pirates game with Kris Rockwell. I also paid a quick visit to the Hybrid Learning offices. What a cool place to work! I also had the pleasure of meeting Ron de las Alas for the first time in person.

During the conference, the reception was a blast, mainly due to Velveeta, a “cheesy 80s” cover band. These guys rocked. I only hope they bring them out for more than two hours next year. Emily hopes they learn how to play some Warrant.

Finally, on the return trip to Pittsburgh, I had time to meet Kris for lunch, and we went to the Church Brew Works. I have never seen anything like it. Incredible. I hope I get to return soon and try the pierogi pizza.

Thanks to Kris for the Pittsburgh hospitality, and Stevie and Robin and crew for the State College hospitality. You all helped make it a great experience.

Check it out

If you create anything online, you should check out this conference next year. They’re making an effort to make it less about EduWeb and more about the modern web. I enjoyed myself, and learned a lot in the process.