I Wrote Our Developer Job Description

We’re hiring a new developer, and my boss asked me to “gussy up” the job description. I love working with great people, so I’m happy help that happen.

I tried to capture a little of the flavor of what it is I love about working at Gesture, and do it in a hopefully entertaining way. If you can write Java and the below sounds good, please send me your info!

Did you know that most tech companies have ping pong tables to hide the fact that they are lame, boring SaaS widget factories? Don’t fall for it. Work at Gesture. Join the team with the world’s best mobile fundraising platform that helps charities host awesome events and raise more money — $300M and counting.

Do you want to be a faceless, burnt out code monkey on a giant “IT” team with 5 levels of management where it takes months before your code even gets into production? Don’t be that. Work at Gesture. We have a small team that works efficiently, ships continuously and has fun while we do it.

Want to work for a bunch of guys in suits who constantly change their minds, blame engineering for their own mistakes, and take their employees for granted? Don’t work there. Work at Gesture. Our culture is about collaboration and camaraderie. Our female employees outnumber the men (yes, even though we are a tech company). Our CEO is more fun than your CEO. Guaranteed.

Want to write code that is rushed, poorly maintained and built on a foundation of technical debt? Don’t do that. Work at Gesture. Our Software Developers own the code and we do not let that fly. We have thousands of tests that let us ship with confidence. Our sprints are right-sized to make sure we have the time to do it right.

Are you a do-the-minimum, in-it-for-the-paycheck, that’s-good-enough McLazypants? A stodgy, my-way-or-the-highway, know-it-all Party Poopster? Don’t be that. You can’t work at Gesture. We are looking for Software Developers who take pride in their work, and aspire to improve as people and software engineers.

If you can write Java and want to work at Gesture, please send me your info!

Notes from UX Camp Chicago

UX Camp Chicago Saturday April 30, 2016 at Columbia College Film Row

It was a rainy day in Chicago yesterday, so it was a perfect time to spend inside at Columbia College for UX Camp Chicago. It was yet another great conference put on by the excellent Russ Unger and the excellent team at ChicagoCamps.org.

Below are my notes from all the talks I attended. There were 3 rooms of talks happening simultaneously, so it does not come even close to capturing everything going on there.

While taking notes on my laptop, I occasionally stopped and just listened so there were all kinds of cool things the speakers had to say that I did not type down. The next event from Chicago Camps is Prototypes, Process and Play in August, so if any of the below sessions sound cool, you should definitely scoop up some tickets for that.

Ok, here are my notes!


Lessons Learned from the World of Wearables

by Carolyn Chandler

@chanan

5900 steps = average number of steps of a person in one day
10,000 = the number of steps that sells fitness trackers
1 in 10 consumers own a tracker
40% of users drop fitness tracking in the first 6 months

During her work for Mira, Carolyn started an evaluation of fitness trackers by wearing 6 different brands of wearables as she started the Couch to 5K program. Most fitness trackers have 3-Axis Accelerometer, Gyroscope and Altimeter. Some have other features, but the most important thing is how they measure steps.

Standardization amongst fitness technology companies is a big challenge. Strides are measured by algorithms, which these companies do not share with each other. Fitbit was the most generous with step count – sometimes by as much as 4,000 steps. Typically, the variance between companies is around 2,000. Because there is no standardization, it makes it harder to compare your fitness level to other friends that do not have the same brand of tracker.

Everyone knows about watches and fitness trackers – what about other types of wearables such as hazardous chemical detectors (My Exposure), Google glucose sensing contacts, UV monitors (June).

Body area network is all of the things you can wear and how they get brought together.

Carolyn then talked about her learnings from the research she did working with Mira, which is an activity tracker specifically designed for women. A big problem she discovered was that most fitness trackers actually reduced the confidence of the women wearing it, for a variety of reasons including the style of the trackers, battery life and more. The tone communicated by these products can come off as judgmental.

Cheerful communications, especially in context, were very well received, especially when done in an interesting way that tells a story. For example: “Feeling lucky? You just walked the distance of the Vegas Strip today!”.

There are tradeoffs involved in design decisions. For example, a larger screen leads to a shorter battery life.

The next part of her talk was about CES. And interesting thing she saw was Underarmour’s health box which contained related wearable products, including one with a shoe with a tracker built in that has enough battery life to last one year. Another interesting product was smart fitness clothes that measure your waist size and other things.

She looked for advancements in improving battery life, such as using motion to charge, but unfortunately the current products don’t work very well. Others are trying to use solar energy to recharge, for example having solar panels on purses or bags.


How to Guarantee Product Failure

by Sean Johnson

@intentionally

Designers are marketers.

Business Objectives + User Needs. Designers especially in UX focus on user needs. This manifests in failures because business objectives are important.

Consider the customer funnel. Most companies consider acquisition and retention, but ignore what happens in the middle of the funnel, which is the engine of your product.

Focusing on the middle of the funnel, improving the experience of using the product, is better because product enhancements are more sustainable.

Retention is the most important level in the funnel. If you have a lack of retention, nothing else matters. Good retention means increased lifetime value of a customer.

3 levels to improve retention: Onboarding, Building Habits and Maximize Frequency.

Ghost town problem. How does your product look when a user first gets there and there is no content.

Assuming someone signed up for the product and is going to get to a spot where the content is filled in is a mistake.

Leveraging social sign on is a way to bring in content for the user. Less fields is better (combine first and last name, no confirm email or password). Avoid email verification requirements which block the user from progressing and force the user to leave and come back.

The goal is to have the user understand the importance of the product to them as quickly as possible. Anything that gets in the way of that is a problem. Using game mechanics to encourage behavior that will lead to this is a good strategy. Creating a custom product tour is another good idea.

Bake in proof that product will deliver to add to the user’s confidence in the product.

Explain reasons why you need users to opt in along the way of their use of the product will also build and maintain confidence in the product.

When possible, combine fields (for example, phone or email in one field) do not make users click submit before validating fields.

Do not use lorem ipsum text when designing. Always at least take a stab at writing copy.

For mobile apps, do not make first screen be a login. Let people experience the product before forcing them to create an account. Have onboarding experience assist in the creation of content. Hold off on account creation until user is ready to save their progress.

A newer approach is to use a conversational bot style chat interface to help with onboarding.

Think of email as a core part of the product.

Commit to a cadence of build, measure, learn. The speed to which you can burn through the loop will increase the likelihood of your product’s success.

Designers should love data. Use data to figure out why users continue to use product.

Focus on OMTM (One Metric That Matters).

There are not many silver bullets. Improving products in a long, grueling series of steps. A great deal of perseverance is required.

Get outside of the mindset of lore – things everyone does but are not tested.


Sketch-to-Code Prototyping

by Will Hacker

@willhacker

Wireframes don’t cut it anymore, especially for rapid prototyping. Over 500 height and width configurations for Android.

Highly recommended following Josh Clark.

Make lots of sketches. Low cost. Sketches plus post-it notes with color to represent different things (e.g. yellow for existing logic, purple for new). Will advocates then prototyping in pure code. The big problem for devs when you give them a representation of something “pixel perfect” is that you don’t consider that it will be delivered to 28,000 different devices.

Will’s team created a live code pattern library created by developers tied to the user experience team. With this library, they are able to deliver working responsive prototypes for review.

One challenge brought up by an audience member was that developers feel like their job is being taken away from them when they are delivered code.

Having a philosophy of “we build mobile products that people may or may not use on a larger screen”, changes the focus and mindset. The mobile view is the most important view.

Different team structure of interaction designer, visual designer and, something new, a UX Prototyper. This team delivers the prototype to development for inclusion in the product. The shift is that front end dev is done as part of the UX team, not the IT team.

This gets away from mockups and sending PDFs full of screens they don’t understand. Instead, deliver links that the viewer can see on their device.


Vocal Exercises: Finding Your Voice

by Natalie Kurz

@beautytruth

Lauren started with a show not tell explanation of the concept of a brand voice. She started with a formal, professional “About Me” description. Next, she displayed the same information, but in an informal, personal voice.

Your voice makes you different from everyone else. For brands, different writers are writing different parts, but it should sound like it came from one person. A consistent voice will build trust with users.

Your website or product can have one voice, but different tones depending on the context and emotional state of the user.

Think about how you want people to think about your product. Different approaches during a workshop to developing a brand voice would be card sort, then evaluating paired terms, opposites and spectrum. Narrowed down the terms, looking to avoid misinterpretations, use a “we are ____ not ____” or “we are ____ like a ____” to further focus in.

She brought up company 404 pages as a good example of whether a company has a voice, she show 404 pages for the email marketing companies Mailchimp, Emma (whimsical) and Active Campaign (serious, professional) to compare and contrast some brand voices. Keep in mind that imagery also has a voice.

Having writing guidelines is a way to explain to writers how to write consistently in the brand voice, and for evaluating existing communications. Giving examples is to illustrate the brand voice is the most important part of good writing guidelines. Also, it is important to talk about tone as it changes for different parts of your site and for different personas and mediums.


Wearables for Everyone

by Scott Sullivan

@scotsullivan

Wearables suck.

The idea is good, but what’s out there sucks and design is the way to make it not suck.

We don’t think about the consequences of the new things we are making with this new smaller technology. We don’t know enough yet to have common patterns — it is the wild west.

We focus too much on industrial design, not enough on service design. Service design is an eagle’s eye view of an end-to-end experience.

Leonardo DaVinci invented a pedometer for Roman soldiers. In the 1960’s, the Japanese were getting fat so they became the first movers to mass market a pedometer to address this.

Experiential knowledge is different. You get it from the context of your life. You know what 10,000 steps means for you in terms of all the activities you do in a day to get to that goal. As you get experience, a fitness tracker gets less useful as you know and understand how to get to 10,000 steps and it has served its purpose at that time.

With the Fuel Band, Nike concentrated on Fuel Points which is different than steps. Playing basketball for an hour versus walking for an hour might have similar step counts, but playing basketball expends much more energy.

On the scale of services vs. commodities, some fitness trackers are closer to the commodity side (you had x amount of steps) while others are geared more towards service (based on your activity, you should do x).

A lot of people don’t use the sleep tracking because you can’t do anything with it. Jawbone UP3 follows a “Track, Understand and Act” philosophy and gives advice on what to do based on your sleep tracking, which is more useful. Yet Fitbit 1 outsells Jawbone UP3. This is likely because Fitbit has a screen and Jawbone does not, and people do not understand the idea of a disposable technology whose value is to pass data to your other devices and services.

In testing the calorie counting watch Gobe, he finds that sometimes it is eerily accurate and other days it is really off. Not there yet.

Fitness tracking is only a small amount of a health picture, and as important as diet.

Smart watches suck because they are too distracting. Notifications suck. They should be non-intrusive dashboards. This is what watches have traditionally been. If you need to have a smartwatch, Android Wear lets you do more service-based things with Geofencing and other contextual things.

He was especially excited about Withings Activité, a beautifully designed traditional analog watch that also does fitness tracking with a battery life of up to 8 months.

Google Glass was not a failure, but rather an experiment. It proved that certain technologies are not inevitable. The future of everyone wearing intelligent smart glasses is not a future that most people currently believe is going to happen.

The Narrative Clip is Scott’s favorite wearable device. Rather than active photography, it is passive and unobtrusive. It takes pictures of moments of you life that would otherwise go undocumented. It is a way to capture surprisingly meaningful moments that would otherwise go unnoticed.


UXers Are From Mars, BAs Are From Venus

by Cornelius Rachieru

@corneliux

Something you don’t learn in design school is that design is politics. Everything we do is subject to scrutiny and opinion. How teams work together is very important. Individuals might be stars, but how do people work together.

Companies are actually starting to hire teams (e.g. Stripe). Learning how to work with counterparts (e.g. on the business side) is a soft skill that should not be ignored.

The budget priority at startups is on UX work, at enterprises it is on business analysis.

Throughout history, design and business analysis developed separately, but have been impacted together by such things as the arrival of Microprocessors and the emergence of Agile development.

Business analysts design and describe solutions to stakeholders, which overlaps what design analysts do. This leads to conflict, for example in defining requirements.

In the latest BABOK (Business Analyst Book of Knowledge) defines Usability as: Ease with which a user can learn to use the solution. This is actually learnability. Only half a page of the book touches on visual design.

Designers do not do a good job of explaining to people what they do or explaining the design process.

Cornelius proposed this definition of UX: An evidence-based methodology that involves end-users throughout the creative process to identify, conceptualize and design services or products that are measurably easier to use, learn and remember.

How do we resolve the conflict between designers and business analysts? Work together to define methods to use where responsibilities overlap. We have been trained to treat users a certain way, but not our team members. Being nice to each other is the key to being successful as a team.

Atlassian developed an Experience Canvas based on the Business Model Canvas.

UX designers are encouraged to work in different industries, and are viewed as agents of change. Whereas business analysts will often stay in one industry, and are viewed as experts.

When it comes to making design decisions, politics come into play. Design decisions may be made by Business Analysts and executives independently of design. The Dunning-Kruger Effect can lead them to being confident in these decisions.

The Design Validation Stack has 3 layers: Design Theory, User Research, User Evidence. The third layer (evidence) is more reliable than the first (theory). Business Analysts similarly have a Business Validation Stack of theory, research and evidence.

At the theoretical level, we have deductive logic to determine what should be built based on accepted theories. At the research level, we use inductive logic to resolve arguments based on evaluating the validity of hypotheses.

Formal focus groups typically used by business analysts use people with their guards up, being skeptical and critical. A story-based conversation are much easier to synthesize because people are at ease.

At the user evidence level, we have an argument being tested in the real world. User experience practitioners implement usability testing of prototypes, whereas business analysts practice user acceptance testing on the product or service after it is built. Therefore, usability testing is a better form of evidence-based testing as you get feedback sooner, saving time and money.

It seems that the roles of Business Analysts and User Experience Designers are destined to merge.

Guide to the Chicago Tech and Startup Scene

chicago-sceneFor the past 2 years, I have been curating a list of Chicago web, tech and startup events at chicagotechevents.com. It has been great to see the number of events, meetup groups and resources continue to grow as Chicago is coming into its own as the tech hub of the midwest.

I have just updated the site with information about the Chicago Tech Scene. Go to chicagotechevents.com/chicago to find information on resources, conferences, meetup groups, coworking spaces, investment firms and more.

To keep up on what’s happening in Chicago tech, you can also subscribe to the Chicago Tech Events Newsletter and follow @chicagotechevnt

A Year of Startup Life

AuctionsByCellular Silent Auction Technology Mobile Bidding CompanyIt has now been a full year since I left the agency and client services world to join a startup. Going from a large multinational company that was part of an even larger global holding corporation to a business with about 20 full time employees was a big change.

Right away, the team at ABC made me feel at home, declaring my first day “Johnny Day” and having a party. (being the 1st full-time developer hire has its perks!)

I haven’t had time to do much open source in the last year. When you’re at an agency, demonstrating creative coding is part of the gig. As part of a rapidly scaling startup, our team is spending every minute we can developing features that our customers need and help the business grow.

One concern I had about leaving an agency was that I really enjoyed constantly getting to work on different projects. Joining a tech company where I’d be developing the same product every day felt like it might get stale.

I’m happy to say that is not the case at all! I feel more challenged than ever. On any given week, there are charity events all over the country that depend on the software we are building. It is pretty amazing knowing the code we write is helping them bring in more money for their causes, which makes me want to work even harder.

Over the last year, I’ve been working on lots of cool things, many of which I unfortunately can’t talk about yet. Some of my ABC highlights are:

  • Launched the responsive redesign of the company website AuctionsByCellular.com
  • Started analytics tracking across our properties to better understand how our mobile bidding product is performing used by our clients and how customers find out about us.
  • Launched a new version of our silent auction technology platform.
  • Implemented our git continuous integration workflow.
  • Took a deep dive into TDD, Selenium, Eclipse, Java and AWS.
  • Came up with a simple way of implementing data binding events with jQuery (need to write up a blog post on that one!)
  • Implemented Websockets on production – all item prices and bidding activity on our auction sites is updated instantly on people’s phones without having to refresh the page.
  • Worked some really cool charity events to see our stuff in action

Last, and most important, is the team. Not only are the people at ABC a lot of fun to be around, they are also great people. Many of them come from the nonprofit world, and others like me have left companies to get an opportunity to partner with charities and see firsthand how they make a difference in people’s lives. Beyond our day-to-day fundraising work, we have also been doing things like volunteering at RMHC, running a 5K to end homelessness and doing construction work for Habitat for Humanity.

So, after a full year, I can say that the honeymoon is not over yet. It is a privilege to be on board!

You can keep up with AuctionsByCellular on our blog, on Facebook, on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. (You may even see a pic/vid of yours truly pop up every now and then)

AuctionsByCellular

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been hired by AuctionsByCellular (ABC) as Lead Web Developer. ABC is an exciting new company that uses people-powered technology to help charities improve their fundraising efforts. Not only will I get to do what I love (write lots of code), my efforts will actually help improve the world, so how awesome is that!

ABC BV BC New FrontAuctionsByCellular specializes in mobile bidding for silent auctions at charity events. Not only have they built a great tech platform (which I will be helping build out), ABC has great event staff that help run the event. The way it works is that attendees of the charity event get a text when the auction starts, then bid on items from their phones (or can go to one of the ABC staff who have iPads). Charities love it!

If you are curious to hear more about my new place, there have been lots of articles about ABC in the press lately, including this article featuring my friend (and ABC CEO) Jim Alvarez.

If you or someone you know is with a charity that can benefit from using ABC, please get in touch:

By Phone: 888.748.2323
By Email: partners@auctionsbycellular.com

Techweek Day 2: When Humor is a Serious Business

This was an interview session with Dick Glover, President & CEO, Funny or Die, which launched 6 years ago. User generated content was the future. It started with a question. Why is there not a ‘Hot or Not?’ for YouTube?

Instead of following a Hollywood model, they did a Silicon Valley model. They made Will Farrell and Adam McKay an equity partner in the business. They didn’t get money unless the company was successful.

There was no budget. Go find friends and cameras, and do stuff. This led to the creation of “The Landlord”.

After that viral success, there were other videos, shortly followed by the 2008 market crash and then the emergence of social. They focused on combining A-list talent with social media. Though anyone can contribute videos, most of their popular content features professional talent.

Techweek Day 2: How to Build Great Products

The thesis of ‘How to Build Great Products: Design and Roadmapping’ by Nicolette Moreno, Founder & Chief Product Officer of Open English, was that building great products is about thinking holistically. It is about deeply considering different points of view. Nicolette asked who is really good about thinking holistically? Women.

She had a great slide saying, ‘Men: If you wanna know what a woman’s mind feels like, imagine a browser with 2,571 tabs open all the time.’

One tactic she suggested was to create a list of problems and why they exist. Take that list and then use it to help define what you are not. Then, define your epics (really big developments – things you would write a press release about). Next, prioritize your epics.

She talked about the importance of writing out user stories. As a ____, I want to ____ in order to _____. It is important to define these as business needs, use wireframes to communicate these and take them (with the user stories) all the way to your programmers. The designs and wireframes should map to and match with the user stories. If they don’t, you have problems!

Have roadmaps and plan, plan, plan the releases of your epics. Don’t be afraid to put in maybe’s. When sharing roadmap, develop one single timeline but deliver different levels of details to different groups of people. The developers and architects need more details than a board of directors. If you don’t know an answer, say that.

Chicago Tech Events

chicagotechevents-logo-180Throughout the past year, I have been keeping a running list of cool local Chicago tech events and sharing it with friends and the people at work. I’ve decided to make it into a thing and put it out there. So I present to you… chicagotechevents.com

I managed to have some fun building it too. It was my first time using Twig templates, and really liked it. I expect I’m going to be using that on a lot of things in the future. Also, I am trying out a couple AWS products. I built the backend on DynamoDB because why not. I made a simple admin page for adding the events to DynamoDB. Every day, a CRON job runs that goes through the events and makes a JSON file with all the data, and puts it onto S3. When you go to chicagotechevents.com, it is loading that JSON file and smushing it together with a Twig template. Nice and simple.

I am also using Amazon SES for the first time for sending out the email newsletter, because the price was right and integration was easy (so far).

More Chicago Digital Events

I’ve already posted some great Chicago digital and tech events happening over the next few months. Here are some more:

APIs & IPAs
Thursday, April 11, 6-8pm
Emporium Arcade and Bar
1366 N Milwaukee

Free tech happy hour hosted by Singly Appfabric.
chicagoapis.eventbrite.com

IgniteChicago
Monday, April 15, 7pm
1871 at the Merchandise Mart

A high-energy evening of five minute presentations by people who have an idea (and the guts) to get onstage and share it with all of us.
ignitechiapril2013.eventbrite.com

Chicago Open Coffee
Tuesday, April 16, 8-9am
Dollop Coffee Shop,
345 E Ohio

Coffee with entrepreneurs, makers, developers and creatives. Hear announcements on upcoming startup and creative events, and talk about startup and tech news.
meetup.chicagoopencoffee.com

Built in Chicago Launch
Wednesday, April 17, 6-9 pm
Rockit Bar & Grill
22 W Hubbard

Built In Chicago Launch gives recently launched startups the opportunity to present their companies in front of 350 investors, fellow entrepreneurs, and startup enthusiasts.
builtinchicago.org/events/built-chicago-launch-april

Social Media Masters Summit
Wednesday, May 1, 9am
Microsoft
200 E Randolph St

A power packed day of best practice Social Media case studies that go beyond typical tactics, paving the way for a new way of thinking.
summit.digitalmegaphone.com

Google I/O Extended at Maria’s
Wednesday, May 15, 3pm
Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar
960 W 31st

Watch sessions from the big Google I/O event live and connect with other developers.
meetup.com/chicago-html5

Big Data & Analytics for Retail
Thursday, June 20 and Friday, June 21
Westin Chicago River North
320 N Dearborn

Big Data & Analytics for Retail Summit brings together analytics executives and data scientists working in retail, eCommerce and consumer goods.
theinnovationenterprise.com/summits/big-data-retail

Upcoming Chicago Digital Events

I’ve put together a list of cool digital/tech events happening right here in my own backyard, the City of Chicago. My sources for these were mostly builtinchicago.org, lanyrd and eventbrite.

Update: I’ve added some more in a new post.

Built in Chicago Launch
Monday, March 18, 6-9 p.m.
Rockit Bar & Grill
22 W. Hubbard

Built In Chicago Launch gives recently launched startups the opportunity to present their companies in front of 350 investors, fellow entrepreneurs, and startup enthusiasts.
http://www.eventbrite.com/event/5574144416

Girl Develop It Launch Party
Tuesday, March 19, 6-8pm
Rockit Bar & Grill
22 W. Hubbard

Girl Develop It is an organization dedicated to empowering women of diverse backgrounds from around the world to learn how to develop software. Come celebrate their arrival in Chicago.
http://www.meetup.com/Girl-Develop-It-Chicago-IL/events/107718052/

Technori Pitch
Tuesday, March 26, 6:30p-8pm
Chase Auditorium
10 South Dearborn

Chicago’s monthly tech showcase, where geeks, veeps, and everyone in between meets.
http://technori-chi-march-pitch.eventbrite.com

Refresh Chicago – 10 Lessons Learned from Obama for America 2012: Real-Time Design
Wednesday, March 27 at 6:30pm
1871 at the Merchandise Mart

Jason Kunesh, UX Director at Obama For America will speak about best practices and methods that helped Obama for America build winning social, mobile, e-commerce and in person experiences for as many people as possible. Tall tales, examples & plenty of QA to go around.
http://www.meetup.com/Refresh-Chicago/events/94957112/

Tech Cocktail Mixer & Startup Showcase
April 3, 6 – 9:30pm
July 25, 6 – 9:30pm
September 26, 6 – 9:30pm
1871 at the Merchandise Mart

A delicious blend between a network event, startup showcase, and a party. We bring together Chicago’s hottest startups, most passionate technophiles, job seekers, investors, entrepreneurs, and those simply looking for a fun atmosphere to get to know your neighbors.
http://www.eventbrite.com/org/25632178?s=12657736

HTML5 User Group: Tools and Workflow for Front End Dev
Thursday, April 11, 6pm
HY Connect
142 E Ontario

Google Developer Jeremy Khan comes to Chicago to lead a discussion about tools and methods for producing solid code.
http://www.meetup.com/chicago-html5/events/104910202/

Mobile Camp Chicago
Saturday, April 20
Harrington College of Design
200 W Madison

Mobile Camp Chicago dedicates a full day to bring together Designers, Developers, and anyone else who is interested in leveling-up their mobile skills.
http://2013.mobilecampchicago.com

MoxieCon
Saturday, April 27
1871 at the Merchandise Mart

A day–long crash course on the business side of design and technology.
http://moxie.quitestrong.com

Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire
Saturday May 18, 10am – 4pm
Carl Schurz High School
3601 N Milwaukee

A family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.
http://makerfairechicagonorthside.com

Context Conference
Tuesday, June 11 to Thursday, June 13
McCormick Place West

Ready or not, the age of the multi-screen, mobile-first consumer has officially arrived. And with it comes a mind-blowing variety of ways for them to connect with your brand.
http://www.contextconference.com

Techweek Chicago
Thursday, June 27 to Saturday, June 29
The Merchandise Mart

With over 200 speakers and 70 sessions from the most innovative technology leaders and companies around the world, Techweek is Chicago’s biggest tech conference. For everyone from Fortune 500 companies to startups, Techweek’s conferences, exhibitions, workshops, and parties come together to create one unforgettable week.
http://techweek.com/chicago/

Succeed Faster
Friday July 19 to Sunday July 21
1871 at the Merchandise Mart

An exclusive, invite only, premiere career acceleration conference for young professionals to the next level.
http://succeedfaster.com

An Event Apart
Monday – Wednesday, August 26–28
Westin Chicago River North

An Event Apart Chicago is an intensely educational learning session for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. The people who are literally writing the books on web design and development come to share their knowledge.
http://aneventapart.com/event/chicago-2013

Ready to Inspire
October 1st to 3rd
Location TBD

http://lanyrd.com/2013/inspire-chicago/

Ideas Week
October 14 – 20
Various locations

Chicago Ideas Week brings together hundreds of the world’s brightest thought leaders to inspire, connect and activate the city of Chicago and the world.
http://www.chicagoideas.com