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A place for people creating digital experiences that are driving innovation on the web.

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Forge Conference 2014 Attendees

Why Forge Conference?

Home to America’s original makers, Philadelphia has tons of great people, meetups and groups, but Forge Conference is the flagship event for those making an impact in the digital space. The conference brings together extraordinary speakers and practitioners from around the country in user experience, design, development, and digital product management. There’s an intimacy to the event, and to the talks, which are focused on sharing stories and lessons learned from some of the most talented and passionate people in the industry.

Make sure to bring your curiosity, and your appetite for good food and a good time, because Forge ensures that the event is much more than just a conference.

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Read our Code of Conduct

Additional speaker and event announcements coming. Sign up below to be the first to hear about this and future updates!



Our speakers are a diverse collection of innovators who test the limits of the digital space. Developers, designers, and product engineers aren’t just job titles to our speakers, they’re opportunities to inspire others and push the industry forward.

Follow @ForgeConf on Twitter to stay up to date as we announce all our speakers!

  • Cap Watkins from BuzzFeed
    Cap Watkins BuzzFeed

    About Cap Watkins

    Cap Watkins is a product designer living in Brooklyn, NY. He’s the VP of Design at BuzzFeed, as well as a blogger, conference speaker, podcast guest and lover of startups and technology. Cap believes in thoughtful, holistic design solutions that get out of the way and empower people to accomplish more. His past work includes Etsy, Zoosk, Formspring and hush-hush stuff at Amazon.

  • King Britt
    King Britt Music Producer

    About King Britt

    King Britt’s curiosity has paved the way for the artist he is now. From creating house tunes for the legendary Strictly Rhythm, djing for Sector 6 comrades Digable Planets, starting Ovum Recordings with techno wunderkind, Josh Wink, being tapped to underscore Michael Mann’s Miami Vice and various commercials, to curating a full day at MoMA PS1 in New York, the list goes on and on. Presently, he is exploring many afro sonic possibilities with his Hyperdub released, Fhloston Paradigm project, The Phoenix, and his aural experiments with friends appear on his imprint, The Buddy System Project. King’s creativity is at a point where process meets end result. It’s the journey and not the destination. No limitations. Come join the ride.

  • Dan Tello
    Dan Tello Viget

    About Dan Tello

    Dan is a Sriracha-powered ex-graphic designer turned front-end dev at Viget.com who believes that every successful day starts with a plate of bacon. When not sitting with bad posture at his desk typing code, he enjoys listening to vinyl, smoking pipe tobacco, reading C.S. Lewis, and being alive in Falls Church, VA with his wife, Bekah, and his dog Maeby.

  • Amritha Prasad
    Amritha Prasad Uber

    About Amritha Prasad

    Amritha is currently a UX Designer at Uber and is extremely passionate about changing the way people perceive transportation and modern convenience. She’s worked on a wide variety of products at Uber over the past 2 years or so, including the Uber and Spotify integration. In her spare time she enjoys reading modern fiction over brunch, watching Bollywood films, and hanging out with the Uber design team.

  • Michael Lebowitz
    Michael Lebowitz Big Spaceship

    About Michael Lebowitz

    Michael is Founder and CEO of Big Spaceship, a globally-recognized digital creative agency. Since launching the agency in 2000, he has defined the strategy and vision for their growth and culture, and worked closely with their clients. Michael has led Big Spaceship to attain countless awards of high distinction and established himself as an industry thought leader. Speaking on creativity, innovation and the evolution of business, Michael leads seminars across the globe and has engaged audiences at AIGA, Cannes, SXSW and ad:tech, to name a few. Michael is a member of P&G’s Design Advisory Board, the Chairman of the IAB Agency Advisory Board and is one of the founders of SoDA.

  • Zander Brimijoin
    Zander Brimijoin Red Paper Heart

    About Zander Brimijoin

    Zander Brimijoin is Creative Director and Co Founder of Red Paper Heart, an interactive art studio in Brooklyn. After over 10 years as an Art Director, and an MFA to boot, Zander left his career to combine art, technology... and bears. The result was Red Paper Heart, a studio that has created large scale installations for likes of Sonos, Red Bull Studios, BMWi, MOMI, and Google. Zander makes people run, jump, and maybe even find unexpected joy in life.

  • Nickey Skarstad
    Nickey Skarstad Etsy

    About Nickey Skarstad

    Nickey Skarstad is a Group Product Manager on Etsy's Shop Management team. She’s worked with Etsy sellers for over five years helping to build the tools that power their creative businesses. On the weekends, you can usually find her biking around Brooklyn or flying home to Minnesota to sharpen her waning midwestern accent.

  • Renda Morton
    Renda Morton The New York Times

    About Renda Morton

    My name is Renda Morton and I write my bios in the first person. I’m a Product Design Director at the The New York Times, where I’ve been working on a redesign of NYTimes.com. Previously, I founded and ran a small, multi-disciplinary design studio called Rumors. Before moving to New York ten years ago, I worked on physical interactive media at a design studio called Lust in The Hauge, Netherlands. I have BFA in Interactive Media from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

  • Judd Antin
    Judd Antin Airbnb

    About Judd Antin

    Judd Antin is a social psychologist and Head of Insights at Airbnb. Prior to joining Airbnb in May 2015, Judd was Research Manager at Facebook, where he led research teams working on products such as News Feed, Groups, Feed Ads, and Photos. Also the co-founder of a relatively short-lived crowdsourcing start-up and a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, Judd’s diverse experiences have helped him appreciate the value of multiple perspectives when building great products. Judd completed his Ph.D. in Information Management & Systems at the School of Information at UC Berkeley in 2010. In 2011 Judd was named one of MIT Technology Review’s top 35 innovators under 35 (TR35).

  • Natalie Be’er
    Natalie Be’er Huge

    About Natalie Be’er

    Natalie Be’er is a Senior Interaction Designer at Huge, where she is responsible for producing work that is usable, intuitive, and intelligent. Her passion for cross-discipline collaborations has led her to focus on technology, interaction design, and user experience. Prior to Huge, Natalie was an Interaction Designer at Noise, translating business problems into best possible user experiences. Natalie received a BA in Sociology and Studio Art from the University of Mary Washington, and an MPS from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.

  • Lis Pardi
    Lis Pardi Digitas Health

    About Lis Pardi

    Lis is an information architect, usability researcher, and interaction designer at Digitas Health. She has an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and has worked on interfaces for health care, games, retailers, and research databases. She lives in Philadelphia, where she is chair of PhillyCHI, the city’s UX community.

Forge Conference Attendees


Conference Venue

Situated on the vibrant UPenn campus, the Penn Museum is the largest university museum in the United States. With a mission to broaden the collective understanding of our human experience, the museum’s goal makes it a perfect fit for our UX conference. It’s brimming with creations from makers of yesteryear and serves not just as a venue, but another source of inspiration as we take a look at the future of the web.

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Check out the Penn Museum

Hotel Palomar Exterior Hotel Palomar Map

Hotel Partner

This year we’re excited to share that we have partnered with Hotel Palomar in Rittenhouse to offer a special rate for Forge Conference attendees. The stylish hotel’s Art Deco theme paired with its excellent service will undoubtedly provide you with a unique and comfortable experience in Philadelphia from start to finish. If you’re still standing following the Forge Conference After Party, we highly recommend that you find out for yourself why Square 1682 was voted “#1 Hotel Bar” by the readers of USA Today.

A limited number of discounted rooms are available; please contact us if you’d like to take advantage of this offer.

Email Us

Hotel Palomar
117 South 17th Street at Sansom
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(800) 546-7866

Get Directions to Hotel Palomar


  1. Main Lobby

    Registration and Breakfast

    Sign in, make yourself a cup of coffee, and meet your fellow attendees.

  2. Harrison Auditorium

    Opening Remarks

    O3 World Partner and CEO Keith Scandone kicks off the event.

  3. Harrison Auditorium

    Michael Lebowitz

    Keynote The Age of How

    Tech is accelerating us and our culture forward at an exponential pace, but many creative companies are still focusing on the same questions and solutions of decades past. In this session, you will hear Big Spaceship CEO Michael Lebowitz talk about an evolved approach to creativity centered on “how.” From the “Philosophical How” that will address how to exist in today’s culture created by tech. To the “Organizational How,” that will dive into organizational models and how to construct a framework that is built for now, sans creative silos. And lastly, the “Practical How,” which will cover how to move nimbly and learn as you go in an effort to identify and harness the right, creative inputs and outputs.

    • Harrison Auditorium

      Renda Morton

      Please Check Back as This Story Develops

      The digital design team at The New York Times is re-thinking what news is and how it works. In this talk, Renda will take you behind-the-scenes of the design and product development process behind The New York Times. She’ll also talk about what it means to find what’s new, important, or interesting to you, dear reader, and how that’s transforming a 164-year-old institution.

    • Widener Lecture Room

      Dan Tello

      Native or Not? The Untapped Power of Web Apps

      There are countless articles touting the superiority of native apps over web. “60fps”, full access to hardware, “jank free”, and so on. While these points are certainly valid, I think the hype has skewed the public perception of the potential power of web-based apps. Sure, we can’t do access everything from the browser, but we can access a whole lot. We can design for a touchscreen, a motion sensor, geolocation, audio, and general mobility-instantly accessible across platforms without needing to make room on your phone for yet another app. Through a behind the scenes look at the Jambells.com experiment and other examples, we’ll remind ourselves of what’s possible in a web app, and take critical look at the pros (and cons) of non-native development.

    • Harrison Auditorium

      Natalie Be’er

      The Homepage is Dead: Designing for Content and Functionality

      When browsing the web, users are directly linked to content through various channels, such as social media sites, search results, and email newsletters. With traffic driving straight to the content, website homepages are usually bypassed altogether. So why do designers still focus on the homepage experience first? In this presentation, Natalie Be’er, Senior Interaction Designer at Huge, will discuss the steps UX designers need to take to get to the post-homepage era design. Be’er will briefly examine the history of the homepage and illustrate how she works with clients to produce the best content experiences for users.

    • Widener Lecture Room

      Judd Antin

      Your Data Are Wrong: The Hype and Reality of Big Data

      Big data is powerful but it can also lead us astray. The big data hype of recent years hasn’t allowed for its weaknesses, to our peril as researchers and designers seeking to build great experiences. In practice all data are limited. Every method is weak and strong. Judd Antin will draw from his experiences at Yahoo!, Facebook, and now at Airbnb as Head of Experience Research to present a practical view on small data, big data, and all the data in between. He’ll share examples and a playbook that centers on questions like: How does our data represent? Where is it blind? Where is it deep, where is it wide? Judd will aim to leave you with an appreciation for holistic thinking about research and design, and a deep-seated fear of myopia, over-generalization, confirmation bias, and unexplained statistical models.

  4. Main Lobby


    Enjoy a meal from CxRA while you network with speakers and attendees.

    • Harrison Auditorium

      Zander Brimijoin

      The Art of Messing with People

      Why can’t a sword be used to create an art piece? What if spirit animals followed you on a bike ride? Shouldn’t a pool light up with animations when you jump in? In our studio, these are the odd questions we ask each other – and they are about playing with users expectations of physical objects. Enter the transformative world of interactive installations. Responsive technology can redefine the rules for even the simplest of objects by changing their function. Deftly alternating between gratifying and confounding deep-seated expectations can create surprising moments of delight. In this session, Zander will talk about swords, music boxes and how they created surprisingly immersive art installations with them. And why cats can’t hold swords.

    • Widener Lecture Room

      Nickey Skarstad

      Leveraging Community to Build Great Products

      Etsy’s heart and soul is its community. It is the people who power the marketplace. So how do we make sure that when we build products for our customers, it’s to their advantage? As the Group Product Manager of Shop Management, Nickey Skarstad will share Etsy’s people-powered development process. She’ll talk about Etsy’s unique prototyping process, discuss the ways in which they collect and apply customer feedback, and share different strategies to help your users accept and even embrace change. In her talk, Nickey will back up her learnings with a range of real Etsy examples, share how they have leveraged community through the product development process, and send you packing feeling empowered to work with your own community to create a new product.

    • Harrison Auditorium

      Panel Discussion

      Do Innovation Labs Live Up to the Hype?

      Product incubators and innovation labs are on the rise, on both the agency side and the client side. But why? Are they worth the investment? And, if they are, how do you get started? Hear from industry experts who have created labs in their own organizations about the cost of these initiatives, the benefits of innovation, and how to make labs work for your own company.

    • Widener Lecture Room

      King Britt

      Less is More: Social Media and the Artist

      We are all vessels of divine magic. Some of us never discover what kind of magic we can make, but those that connect with their magic and make it their mission are artists.

      When we are young, we don’t give a fuck about anything but what we are doing in the now. As we get older, filters distort the raw vision and we think of past and future more. We become less fearless, slaves to routine. Record labels, art galleries, museums, thieves, and other constructs seek to control artists – even King Britt – for monetary purposes. But none of these has been worse than social networks and the idea of wizards behind analytics for greater control.

      In this presentation, King will tell you what he has done to ’protect his magic’ while rediscovering his inner child in the wild west of the music business.

    • Harrison Auditorium

      Amritha Prasad

      Raising the Bar Through Collaborative Design Techniques

      There was once a time when people were wow’d by the idea of simply being able to hail a driver by tapping a button on their phones. However, as Uber continues to grow and evolve, everything the team designs and builds quickly becomes the norm. Designers at Uber are continually challenged to “raise the bar” and elevate transportation in ways that people never thought was possible. As the design lead of the API & Partnerships team, Amritha Prasad sees it as her responsibility to bring the creative spark and take partner product integrations beyond the expected solution set. During her presentation, Amritha will talk through different collaborative sketching and brainstorming techniques she has applied on several projects at Uber.

    • Widener Lecture Room

      Lis Pardi

      In Defense of the Floppy Disk: The Vocabulary of the Interface

      At least once a week we see someone say we should retire the save icon. They don’t base this on fact, just on their opinion that the icon’s time has passed. But aren’t you curious if that’s true? Wouldn’t it be interesting to ask high school and college students if they understand its meaning?

      Lis did. She surveyed nearly 700 people under 25 about common icons – many of which reference technology that was obsolete before they were born. And beyond figuring out the save icon’s fate, Lis learned a lot of other interesting things from this exercise.

      We know words have meaning, but sometimes we forget that our visual vocabulary carries weight, too. We also think of icons as the designers’ domain, but when they are accompanied by words or replacing words, they become ours.

  5. Harrison Auditorium

    Cap Watkins

    Keynote Design Everything

    We talk a lot about design-driven organizations and user-focused design practices. But how do you get your organization bought into that in the first place? How do you convince people that starting with design is the good and right thing to do? We’ll talk about strategies for winning hearts and minds, building trust and ultimately designing not just the product, but your entire organization.

  6. Harrison Auditorium

    Closing Remarks

    Thanks for coming to Forge! Join us at Zavino for the after party.

Our Sponsors

A huge shout out to our sponsors who support Forge Conference and provide the resources to help us all create.

Become a Sponsor

2014 Recap

On September 26th, 2014 designers, developers, and product people from around the U.S. came together in Philadelphia, PA to learn the story behind some of the web’s most loved brands, products, and experiences. We listened to some of the industry’s brightest folks talk about the things they feel the most passionate about. We learned how to bring internal stakeholders together, how UX in gaming can provide new perspectives to traditional web processes, and how we as an industry are collectively experiencing first-hand, the digital revolution.

Visit the 2014 Site
Forge Conference Attendees

Questions & Comments

Want to work with us or have a suggestion to make Forge Conference better? Or hey, maybe you just want to chat UX. Fill out the form and we’ll connect with you in a couple days.

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Get Your Tickets

What’s included with your ticket purchase you ask? Admission to Forge Conference, breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day, and admission to the after party. By purchasing a ticket, attendees registering agree to follow the Code of Conduct set forth by Forge Conference.

Become a Sponsor Sponsor Now

This is your opportunity to help us put on one of the best conferences in the industry. The table below shows the different levels of sponsorship and what is included with each level. There are additional ways to sponsor Forge Conference below the table. Complete the form at the bottom of the page and we will be in touch.

Available Sponsorship levels and included perks for each level.
  Platinum Gold Silver Bronze
Cost $10k $5k $3.5k $1.5k
Number Of Tickets 4 4 2 1
Your Logo On The Forge Conference Website* X X X X
Social Media Shout Outs X X X X
Your Logo On Conference Collateral X X X  
Opportunity To Place An Item In The Swag Bag* X X X  
Your Logo On All Forge Newsletters For The Year X X    
Mention From Stage During The Conference X X    
Invites To The Speakers’ Dinner X      
Display Table At The Conference (May Be Added For $2k) X      
Discount On Additional Tickets 20%      
*Forge retains approval rights for all associated sponsorship opportunities

Download Sponsorship PDF

Additional Opportunities

All of the sponsorships listed below come with social media shout outs.

After Party $20,000+

As the official sponsor of the After Party, you’ll own the night once our last speaker leaves the stage. The options vary based on location, but it’s your call on how you want to be involved; you can simply pick up the tab, or we can work with you to create something entirely unique.

Customization of the event could include anything from creating signage and coasters for the event to bringing in special musical guests and/or doing product/gift giveaways.

Because we don’t want to see you only at the After Party, this sponsorship also comes with two tickets to the conference. On top of that you can bring up to 10 additional guests to the After Party only.

Video Sponsor $10,000

In return for picking up the tab for video production, our video sponsor’s logo will be featured at the beginning and end of each video which will be hosted online, well, hopefully forever. That includes the sessions themselves and our post event wrap-up video.

Given the level of our speakers and the usefulness of the content, this is the best way to get your brand in front of as many people as possible long term. We’ll also give you at least one sweet shout-out from the stage.

Speakers’ Dinner $7,500

Good food, good people, good conversation... sounds like the perfect sponsorship. Prior to the conference we get together with our speakers from both 2014 and 2015, to say thanks, have a few drinks and relax. Not only will you and a guest join us for dinner, but this is an awesome opportunity to hang with our speakers and event staff. Obviously we’ll make sure that everyone knows you’re the hero for picking up the tab by thanking you over social media before and after the dinner.

WiFi $3,000

The wifi sponsor will have the wireless network named in their honor and their logo on all slides and signage that carry the wifi info. Every single attendee will be looking for this info and want access to this network throughout the conference, so this is a great way to get your name in front of everyone!

Green Room $2,000

As the Green Room sponsor you’ll provide snacks and beverages for our speakers, as well as a quiet place for them to work. We’ll also make sure your logo and name are attached in a meaningful way, be it custom labels on the water bottles or personalized snack bags for each speaker.

In-Kind TBD

Forge Conference attendees are designers, developers, product people, and talented folks of all stripes. If you have a product that you feel would be appropriate or interesting to our attendees, please reach out.

Download Sponsorship PDF

Privacy Policy

We have created this email privacy policy to demonstrate our firm commitment to your privacy and the protection of your information.

Why did you receive an email from us?

If you received a mailing from Forge, (a) your email address is either listed with us as someone who has expressly shared this address for the purpose of receiving information in the future (”opt-in“), or (b) you have registered, purchased tickets, or otherwise have an existing relationship with us. We respect your time and attention by controlling the frequency of our mailings.

How we protect your privacy

We use security measures to protect against the loss, misuse and alteration of data used by our system.

Sharing and Usage

We will never share, sell, or rent individual personal information with anyone without your advance permission or unless ordered by a court of law. Information submitted to us, (a) through our newsletter signup, (b) by contact us form, or (c) by purchasing event tickets, is only available to employees managing this information for the purposes of contacting you or sending you emails based on your request for information, and to contracted service providers for purposes of providing services relating to our communications with you.

How can you stop receiving email from us?

Each email sent contains an easy, automated way for you to cease receiving email from us, or to change your expressed interests. If you wish to do this, simply follow the instructions at the end of any email.

If you have received unwanted, unsolicited email sent via this system or purporting to be sent via this system, please forward a copy of that email with your comments to info@forgeconf.com.

Code of Conduct

Forge Conference is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race, age, or religion.

Forge Conference will not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments (related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race, age, or religion), sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

By purchasing a ticket, attendees registering agree to follow this Code of Conduct as set forth by Forge Conference.

If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference, with no refund. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately.

Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.

Contact Information

Email: info@forgeconf.com
Phone: (484) 483-6432

This anti-harassment policy is an altered version of the example policy provided by the Geek Feminism Wiki. We highly recommend reading through their resources and incorporating them into your own events.