Maria Keenan

On Design Conferences & Creating Fulfilling Experiences

Bryony is half of the team that founded Under Consideration and their design conference, Brand New. Both roles involve a lot of stakeholders, as you can see from the length of their attendee list for the upcoming edition of the conference.

Although Brand New takes place on September 13th and 14th this year (that's a week before Admission, for those of you keeping track) she'll be presenting in Chicago on the brand and audience that she and her business partner, Armin Vit, have built together.

I recently got the opportunity to ask her to share some insight into how they run their flourishing business as well as design conferences, and how her hectic life brings Bryony rewards.

For context, Under Consideration has been the leading site for opinions on logo and identity redesigns for the past 12 years which the team maintains as well as their in-demand graphic design studio, though they only take on select client work. There had to be a secret, so I asked:

Read More
Maria Keenan

Why Meetups Are Important | 5 Questions with Caitlin Teed

If you don't know what Shopify is (!) it's an e-commerce platform for retailers. 

And it's very popular. Caitlin Teed is Shopify's partner community manager, meaning she's responsible for multiple events and other community building and engagement activities. 

Caitlin brings all sorts of people together under the umbrella of Shopify's inclusive tech scene. Given that you can sell anything (legal) on Shopify, customers can be interested in subjects as diverse as zombie garden gnomes and bulletproof strollers. 

I was compelled to talk to Caitlin about those communities, what happens when they collide, and why meet-ups are important. Here's what she had to say:

Read More
Maria Keenan

How to Build a Successful WWDC Conference | Jessie Char from Layers

Jessie is the co-founder of Layers, a three-day conference where people talk about design and technology.

As a former Apple employee and current enthusiast, speakers specializing in iOS design and development are among the highlights of Jessie's Layers each year. It's become a very popular WWDC event each year. In fact, iMore listed Layers as their "hands-down favourite" event of WWDC (and not just because of its famous snacks).

If you're not familiar with WWDC, it's the veritable Mecca of Apple developer conferences. 6000 people go each year. It's kind of a big deal.

Jessie's going to be joining our line-up for Admission, our conference for organizers. As such, I caught up with her to find out some more about what makes Layers a successful WWDC conference:

1) Where did the idea for Layers come from? Where do your conference ideas come from, generally speaking?

"In general, the idea for Layers came from the thousands of people who came to town for Apple’s WWDC, many of whom didn’t even hold passes to the event itself. WWDC is wonderful for developers and important for networking, but I thought there was room for a more meaningful way for designers to engage with each other during the week.


"The specifics of all our events are inspired by many different things - we let our venue inform a lot of decisions around schedule, layout, and tone as we like to the play to the strengths of the space we’re in. The more playful aspects of the event come from painstaking analysis of what we enjoy doing and what makes things feel fun and effortless, from simple activities like spending time with close friends to more staged experiences like Disneyland."

Read More
Maria Keenan

Developer Conferences & How to Get Them Right | Sandra Persing

Sandra works (almost) all the time. 

She has three job titles, has created engagement programs for 18 million developers, and somehow made time to answer five questions for me.

Sandra Persing (pictured below) is a global strategist for Mozilla, specifically focusing on developer events and sponsorship outreach. She's also the co-founder of the DevRel Summit Group, and an advisory board member for Women Who Code. (Told you, three job titles.)

In the build up to Admission, I took some time to uncover the ins and outs of how one person can host a conference, let alone a global series of them, and ensure each one is as remarkable as the last. Here's what I learned:

Read More
Maria Keenan

Event Management Tips from a 30 Year Career | Hugh Forrest from SXSW

30 years is a long time. 

For context (and the thrill of making us feel ancient), here are just a few things that will be turning 30 this year:

Hugh Forrest has been in the events business for the same 30 years, and brings three decades' worth of event management tips with him as a result. 

I caught up with Hugh pictured below to pick his brain about the industry, staying creative over a career as long as his, and how to avoid burn out along the way.

This interview is part of a series we'll be producing in the build up to Admission. We wanted to give our readers the opportunity to get to know our speakers  before the big day, and wanted to whet our appetite for their insider knowledge on how to host a conference

Read More
Maria Keenan

3 Quality Events for Startups (Autumn/Winter, 2018/19)

As a startup ourselves, we know how much decision making and research goes into keeping the business going and pushing it forward. 

As a startup that specifically caters towards event organisers, we also know a thing or two about what makes a conference or a meet-up worth your time. Today, I wanted to highlight three quality events for startups taking place over the next few months that are certainly worth at least considering:

Read More
Annie Lowney

The Story Behind Our Conference Design Principles and Practices

We host a community event series called Úr, which is an Irish word for “fresh”.

It kicked off in spring 2018.  From the design point of view the key themes that Dearbhla, our designer, had to work with were “fresh” and “cocktails”. And, with a slick stretch of her imagination, this is the final design that she came up with and which Doc animated.

I mention Úr here to show the way I approach design direction when curating events. I look for key themes; usually the event’s name and the atmosphere I’m trying to create. Before the conference was christened “Admission” I got stuck on using another Irish name. I fell into that trap other organizers will be familiar with: sticking to what worked for the past event, even though the next project is very different.

Read More
Annie Lowney

Why We've Decided to Host a Conference

I remember being with Jane Kwett, now with Patreon, several years ago in New York.

I’d just started a new role in marketing (with a heavy emphasis on events) and Jane was part of the company’s onboarding team. It was snowing and I was wearing a summer jacket. Jane was wearing a puffa jacket because that’s what you should wear in New York in February.

“Why are you wearing that jacket?” Jane ushered me inside to look at a venue.

“I didn’t realise it got this cold here.” Jane looked at me blankly as my eyelashes started to frost over.

“Yeah Annie… it gets real cold here. You’re not in Ireland anymore.”

Read More