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September 27 marked the start of the 2012 HOW Interactive Design Conference in Washington, D.C. On that day several hundred designers, programmers, SEO specialists and other Web workers descended upon the U.S. Capitol, eager to learn emerging Web technologies and techniques from each other and also leading industry experts. This year, the conference was divided into two tracks – one for designers just moving into web design, with sessions on transitioning print design skills to the Web and getting comfortable with SEO, structuring information, and working across multiple mediums.

The second was targeted to those seeking to kick up their current digital design skills with the latest information on programs, technologies and trends. From tools of the trade for beginners to tools for building your interactive dream team to accessible design and pretty much everything in between, the conference covered it all, along with a heaping helping of networking and just plain fun. Designers came away with a strengthened skill set and plenty of ideas for them, their companies and their clients.

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The conference is offered in two flavors – East in D.C. and West in San Francisco. The West conference runs from October 29-31, 2012. So, if you had the misfortune of missing the East conference, there’s still hope.

Speakers at this year’s East conference included: metajive’s creative director, Dave Benton; design consultant, Faz Besharatian; Paul Boag with Headscape, Ltd; Chris Butler, Vice President at Newfangled; Jose Caballer, Chief Education Officer at The Skool; Cōdify Design Studio Partner, Chris Converse; Steve Fisher, UX Director at Yellow Pencil; Laura Franz, Associate Professor at UMass Dartmouth; Astonish Results’ Jesse Friedman; Ginger Kochmer with The Creative Group; Bluecadet’s Troy Lachance; internationally recognized digital product leader, Rajesh Lal; Claudia McCue, Certified Technical Trainer with Adobe; Karen McGrane, Managing Partner at Bond Art + Science; DesignMeltdown.com’s Patrick McNeil; Emira Mears, Co-founder of Raised Eyebrow Web Studio Inc.; Brian Miller, Owner and Design Director of Brian Miller Design Group; Authentic Jobs Founder, Cameron Moll; Newfangled President, Mark O’Brien; James Pannafino with Millersville University; Matthew Richmond, Founding Partner, Executive Creative Director and Developer at The Chopping Block, Inc.; Creative Director, Jim Sabia; David Sherwin, Principal Designer at Frog; Stuart Silverstein, Senior UX Designer at Fandango and Marriott’s Director of Mobile Experience Design, Dan Willis. It was quite an impressive line-up, dripping with experience and ready to share their thoughts, insights and knowledge.

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But what about the attendees? Well, as soon as the conference began Twitter lit up. Here are just a few of the tweets:

“The sign language guy is awesome and I keep watching him. How does he listen while repeating what was just said?! Amazing.”

“Great conference & can’t wait for SF! RT @HOWbrand: Thanks to all who attended #HOWidc East! Look out San Francisco. HOW is headed your way!”

“Thanks for organizing such a wonderful event — it was without exaggeration the best conference I’ve been to.”

Marketing Mentor Founder, Ilise Benun, was both a presenter and an attendee. Here’s what she had to say about this great event:

“There were more than 450 attendees at HOW Interactive Design Conference East, so it was a nice intimate event with two tracks, one for beginners and another for more advanced designers.

Everyone I talked to was learning something from each presenter – often quite a bit, even when the material was basic. There was a lot of interest in how to manage complex projects, one of the main challenges of interactive design, especially when you’re collaborating with programmers.

My favorite sessions were Chris Butler of Newfangled.com, What Robots and People Can Tell You About Design. In it, he focused on Google Analytics and shared very simple tips to help make sense of, and then use, the wealth of metrics Google provides, for ourselves but also for our clients.

I also loved Karen McGrane’s session on Adapting Ourselves to Adaptive Content. Very interesting topic from an extremely engaging presenter.”

Benun will also be presenting a pre-conference workshop on Oct. 28 at the West version in San Francisco. The workshop is titled, Business Bootcamp: Positioning, Proposals and Pricing for Interactive Projects. 
The focus is the business aspects of interactive design: how to get it, how to win it and how to price it. Ilise’s workshop promises to be excellent and, as always, highly informative.

The 2012 HOW Interactive Design Conference had some potent partners, sponsors, exhibitors and promotional partners, as well.

Partners

Adobe Systems Incorporated
The Creative Group

Sponsors

The Art Institutes
The BOSS Group
Central Intelligence Agency
Creative Edge
Extensis
FiddleFly Inc.
Hoefler & Frere-Jones
MAXON Computer
Pantone

Exhibitors

College for Creative Studies
Erickson Productions, Inc.
Willetts Website Programmers

Promotional Partners

Bestica
GraphicDesign.com

Whether you’re just moving into Web work or have some experience under your belt, the HOW Interactive Design Conference East was the place to be. Watch out San Francisco, the West conference promises to be equally excellent, engaging and informative.