Without a doubt, 2015 was an amazing year for Columbus Web Group. We had first-class talks and social events with an ever-growing amount of members from the #CbusTech community, and we couldn’t have done it without AWESOME people like you.
Here’s some inside information:
- We started the year with 510 Columbus Web Group members
- As of today, we have 1274 members (that means 764 people discovered Columbus Web Group in 2015)
- For our events, we had an average 74 RSVPs
- And for our new Weekend Workshops, they’ve all been sold out. Every. Single. One.
Raw talent can only take you so far in today’s professional world. Those that truly make their mark are the ones that can nurture complimentary strengths and skills to match (or even outshine) their main defining talent.
Now, continue reading for the epic roundup of our Monthly Meetups and our new Weekend Workshops in 2015. You truly don’t realize how many great events happened until it’s all listed out.
Monthly Meetups in 2015
First off, we are humbled by how many people spent their evening with us every month, and we love the connections we make every time.
2015 was no exception.
The way we look at it, each Monthly Meetup is an opportunity to meet someone new, learn something different, and be exposed to ideas you might not encounter in your day-to-day. So take a trip down memory lane with us, re-watch some of your favorite talks, and be inspired again.
Monthly Meetups aim to raise the quality of web development and design in the Columbus area through short talks by professionals in the industry. Topics include best practices, methodologies, and approaches for the modern web.
January — Accessibility for the Modern Web
Brian Greene from Nationwide discussed the importance of accessibility, which responsive web design patterns cause accessibility issues, explored mobile assistive technology, and showed the variety of tools available to test accessibility on today’s modern websites and apps.
Brian has worked at Nationwide for 5 years in the User Experience group. After two years as an Interaction Designer, he moved into his current position, Creative Technologist. His primary role is to create functional prototypes, to work with IT on presentation-layer development, and collaboration.
February — Sequential Design: Understanding design through comics
Brad Colbow guided us through the basics and explained how design can tell the big stories, the little stories, and everything in between.
When most people think of comics they think of larger than life heroes or over the top cartoon characters. But, what makes these big ideas work? It’s the spaces in between — the details that tie all the elements together, make the big moments gigantic, and the special moments memorable.
March — Nuthin’ but an SVG thang
April — CWG/IxDA: Conversion Rate Optimization
We had a double header in April with IxDA Columbus with two presenters: Jonathan Poma and Michael Tallman.
Jonathan Poma is the co-founder of Rocket Code, a company that focuses on creating custom solutions for e-commerce. He explained how Rocket Code designed a performance-optimization strategy for Soylent using modern e-commerce science. Built upon two hypotheses, and tested over the course of four weeks, the strategy delivered ~$1MM revenue growth on soylent.com
Michael Tallman leads the Abercrombie & Fitch Experience Design team. His focus is on building brand experiences that benefit both the customer and the brand through user centered design. He showed us how the value of the customer experience has become table stakes. The presentation explained how to put a dollar amount on graphic design, UX, and your in-house design group.
“Where’s the video playback for this one?” you might ask.
Well, have you ever had technology not work correctly? During the live stream of the event, something on YouTube’s end went a bit funky, and we ended up with some not-so-pretty video.
May — Going Independent
This was a different kind of event for us. Instead of a presentation, we had a panel discussion on how venturing out on your own can be both scaryand rewarding. Many of us have dreamed of being our own boss, setting our own schedule, and limitless income potential… but there are a lot of questions:
- What does it take to start your own company?
- How do you find clients?
- Do you have to quit your job?
- How do you get paid?
As it turns out, we had four great panel members to answer these questions, and more:
Ed Stull (UX)
Edward works as a user experience (UX) designer and researcher in Columbus, Ohio. He has held positions in large traditional agencies, mid-size system integration firms, small design studios, and a one-person consulting practice. When not working, he is usually out hiking.
Adam Albrecht (Dev/Tech)
Adam is a full-stack web developer who went independent about 5 years ago in order to be his own boss and achieve location independence. He started off doing client work, and then gradually moved into the startup world by creating a SAAS product in the healthcare industry.
Nick Smith (Design)
Nick founded Nicknamed LLC in 2014 following more than a decade of experience in the industry. With a passion for branding, UI and print, Nick enjoys working directly with clients to help understand their needs, develop a strategy, and design a finished product. A graduate of CCAD, Nick has worked at agencies including Resource/Ammirati, SBC Advertising, and Fahlgren.
Tara Reprogle (SEO)
Tara is the owner of Crankshaft SEO, a Columbus-based search engine optimization and pay-per-click company.
Crankshaft SEO was founded on a belief that SEO and online marketing not only works for any size business, but that it is absolutely essential for businesses seeking to remain competitive, particularly in local markets.
Tara focuses on educating her clients about SEO, AdWords, and the relationship between their online marketing strategies, their website, and how these integrate into the larger picture of their business.
June — The Path to Performance
She strongly values collaboration with her teammates, performance in design, and beautifully smart design systems. She loves her dog and iced coffee more than anything formerly mentioned.
Katie tackled the topic of performance, and how it’s a rising requirement for building successful websites, but successful performance begins far earlier than development.
So how do you get your entire team excited by it, specifically aesthetic-heavy designers? Katie tackled that by discussing:
- Why entire teams should care
- Everyone’s role in creating and maintaining a performance budget
- How to get designers excited by performance budgets
- How to begin incorporating performance budgets into projects
July — Summer Social Event with the Columbus Dribbble Meetup
August — Project Process
This was a dual-headed meetup, with one talk tackling how to take a project from nothing to something, and the other diving deep on the best way to design and develop around image assets.
Interface Driven Design
- A package index for organizing functional components
- Information architecture for organizing content
- Annotated user interfaces as a means to deliver successful, profitable web projects.
Phil Franks is the Director of Design at Dynamit. He is collegiate athlete with a background rooted in traditional graphic design who has evolved a passion for user experience, interface, and interaction design. Phil leads a team of full-stack designers well-known for strategic user experience and design. His team’s award-winning work can be found at Fortune 200 clients and startups in consumer-facing initiatives, as well as internal enterprise tools and systems.
Asset Template Guides
Inspired by traditional print design, Kevin Mack and Tim Vonderloh created Asset Template Guides as a solution to predict reflow of content in a responsive environment, while giving visual designers more creative freedom when designing for responsive sites, and improving communication between developer and designers.
Tim Vonderloh has worked in design, front-end dev, art direction, and UI/UX for some of Ohio’s most forward thinking interactive agencies such as Real Art Design Group, Resource Interactive, and is currently in the UX group at Cardinal Solutions in Columbus. For the past several years he has been focusing on mobile and Responsive Web Design process.
September — Being Open-Minded & Open-Sourced
Every developer uses open-source software (OSS), but few understand the full value it provides. Luke Askew gave tips and strategies for getting the most out of OSS, and provided practical advice for running a successful OSS project, like Fabricator.
October — VC Firms and Startups in Cbus: What this Means for You
Since Central Ohio’s tech scene is bursting at the seams, we invited Calvin Cooper of NCT Ventures to explain what venture capital (VC) means in the capital city. Calvin started with the basics of VC, and then dived into analysis of the trends that investors are watching. This was an opportunity to learn, gain valuable insight, and ask questions about what’s going on in Columbus’ dynamic startup ecosystem.
Calvin is an associate on the NCT Ventures investment team, focusing on new investment deal flow, fundraising, market research and intelligence, due diligence, portfolio management, public relations, and communications.
NCT Ventures is a Columbus-based venture capital investment firm dedicated to providing a platform for entrepreneurs to succeed in turning their ideas into profitable business models through hands-on operational support.
November — Three Topics, One Night: RWD Images, ECMA2015, and Microinteractions
We did something special for our November meetup. We had three lightning talks that ranged from design to development to project process. We were excited to have three great experts from Columbus talking about three topics that are very relevant to our industry.
Introduction to Responsive Images by Russell Skaggs
There are lots of reasons you may want to change swap out images at different screen sizes. Maybe you need to recrop at a smaller screen to showcase focus. Perhaps you just want to avoid that iPhone on a data plan from downloading that edge-to-edge hero image designed for the latest retina screen. This lightning talk gave a brief overview of strategy and implementation of responsive images.
Russell Skaggs is the Lead Developer for Fine Citizens and teaching assistant for Girl Develop It. Most of his day to day is collaborating with designers and developers to create amazing digital experiences.
Alex Schmaltz is a Front-End developer with 10 years of development a design experience. Alex attended Cincinnati State and the University of Cincinnati for Multimedia and Web design. Alex found his passion in front-end web development, has worked with various startups in Cincinnati, large corporations, and currently works as a consultant at Cardinal Solutions.
Microinteractions by Nick Holmer
Details make the difference between a good product and a great product. Unfortunately, these details are often ignored due to time or budget, yet these are essential for creating a product that people will love. This lightning talk dissected interaction design to the atomic-level and defined how teams can utilize a repeatable process for creating a great product design.
Standing 6’5”, Nick Holmer is a Senior Designer at Dynamit in Columbus. He specializes in User Experience and User Interface design for large-scaling development projects and helping brands meet their business goals.
December — Columbus Meetups Holiday Celebration
Because Columbus is an awesome place to be thanks to our active and passionate community, this event was an invitation to all members of #CbusTech, creative, and startup meetups. This was the second successful year for this event! Instead of the usual monthly meeting, we joined forces with more than 15 other meetup groups from Columbus for food and libations at CoverMyMeds.
- Central Ohio .NET Users Group
- Columbus Web Group
- Columbus Wordpress
- LOPSA Columbus
- Central Ohio Python Users Group
- Girl Develop It Columbus
- Pair Columbus
- Central Ohio Agile Association
- DevOps Columbus
- Central Ohio Linux User Group
- Columbus Startup Weekend
- IxDA Columbus
- Columbus Perl Mongers
- Code Jam Columbus (Joint events)
- Columbus OWASP
- Columbus Ruby Brigade
In the spirit of giving, we also encouraged people to donate to the Toy Adaptation Program that’s run under the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. And we’re proud to say:
We had an amazing turn out and donated almost 100 toys!
Really, you owe it to yourself to see the awesome work that Molly Mollica, and others, are doing with the Toy and Technology Library at OSU to help kids with different capabilities enjoy the simple pleasures of playing with toys.
New in 2015, Weekend Workshops were created in response to the demand for hands-on learning and deep dives on topics the #CbusTech community sought after. We purposefully craft the Monthly Meetups to be appreciated by a wider audience, while the Weekend Workshops are very niche.
There’s simply no substitute to having an in-person expert to learn from. Weekend Workshops help give students that local community resource to reach out to even after the workshop is over.
Courses are targeted at audience members to create a personalized learning experience. Even before the course gets started, the instructor reaches out to registrants with, “What do you want to get our of this workshop,” and “Tell me about your background.”
This is something that you can’t get from places like Lynda, Treehouse, or CodeAcademy.
Intro to CSS & HTML
A three-week workshop taught by Kevin Mack that covered an introduction to CSS and HTML by teaching syntax, best practices, methodologies, and positioning of elements on a webpage. It was a hands-on workshop that included presentations related to the topics. By end of week three, each audience member completed a task that focused on positioning elements on a webpage with quality CSS and HTML code.
Sketch 3: A-Z
This was a one-week workshop, taught by Columbus Web Group’s newly minted Co-Organizer Sean Doran. Attendees learned the principles for designing modern day websites, and how they could get up and running with Sketch 3 as a new design tool to see their ideas come to life. For the week leading up to the workshop, students also received educational emails on fundamental principles of design.
A well designed, focused, and positioned portfolio is the secretto ensuring you get to work on the projects that you love, or with the companies that you admire.
Dennis reviewed portfolios, talked about attendees’ goals, and worked with them on ensuring that they positioned themselves appropriately.
By the end of the workshop people had an actionable plan that they could set into motion immediately.
This 2-week course taught by Eric Katz was created to teach the correct way to set up a WordPress site. Whether they were seasoned in PHP, or just getting started, members learned best practices, tips and recommendations for creating a great WordPress site, and developing an awesome WordPress product. The sessions covered a range of topics from navigating the WordPress UI, setting up a local development site, learning basic PHP, augmenting existing functionality and developing new features.
Behavior Driven Development with Cucumber
This two part Weekend Workshop covered Cucumber, a tool for Behavior Driven Development and collaboration between developers and business stakeholders. It was taught by Tim Callahan, who has been in the field of test engineering for over 5 years at various companies in Columbus.
After graduating from the Ohio State University, he worked on a few personal side projects where he found out through first hand experience why having automated tests can be important as an investment in the future. Currently he works for CoverMyMeds, and previously has worked with Nationwide and Chemical Abstracts.
Part one served as an introduction and expose attendees to setting up their local environments with Cucumber, and how to write scenarios (and for the technically inclined, how to write the underlying step definitions).
During the following week, attendees were able to work on writing scenarios and testing a site on the web. The second part was an open group discussion of what they did, and what questions, comments, and reactions they had.
As Columbus grows, we’ll stay committed to sharing web development and design practices in a relaxed atmosphere with web professionals and students of any skill level. It’s great to be part of an amazing and supportive community to grow and connect.
Also, since you’ve made it this far, I’ll let you in on a little secret…
We’re now on Slack.
See, your passionate about what you do — so why not join other members of the local Columbus community in a place to talk shop, make new connections, and share helpful resources?