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Converge SE 2012: web designers paradise

Friday and Saturday, I attended Converge SE 2012, a web design conference in Columbia, SC. The conference examined the intersection between design, development and marketing and is the brainchild of Gene Crawford and friends from unmatched style.com and Period Three, a local web design firm. This year, the event coincided with Indie Grits, another wildly successful event that started in Columbia just a few years ago. This year, Converge SE sold out in just two days!

Converge SE attracts the design-conscious and the technically-savvy crowd from all over the country from a wide range of industries: education, government, small business, corporate, solo designers, and more. Experts and industry thought leaders conducted workshops and presentations that focused on topics ranging from the practical to the philosophical. Creativity, emerging technology discussions and the encouragement to push the boundaries of web design were common themes this year.

For the workshops, there were four different tracts attendees could participate in: Design; Development; Front-End Development; Marketing and Mobile. I participated in most of the Design workshops which covered everything from typography to design process to prototyping. I also participated in a lecture by J Cornelius who talked about the benefits of using HTML 5 markup language and why it’s so awesome.

And speaking of awesome, Leslie Jensen-Inman from UT-Chatanooga kicked us off Friday morning with an inspirational talk and encouraged everyone to follow their passion and to simply “make awesomeness.” Last year, Leslie spoke at Converge SE and discussed her involvement in CreateAthon On Campus at UT-C and how powerful the experience was for her and her students. Pretty cool to hear about the impact CreateAthon is making in other parts of the country. Yeah, shout out to CreateAthon!

A few notes and sidebars from some of the other speakers that I found interesting:

• From J Cornelius, a software/web developer:

- “IE7 is the new IE6″ (IE6 is a developers’ worst nightmare)

- 4.8 billion people have never seen the web

- HTML5 gives us the ability to do amazing things. Check out www.thisshell.com to see what’s possible.

- In the end, it’s our job {as web designers} to create an “experience” online.

- And lastly, J suggested that we “Go build some cool stuff.”

• Chandler Van De Water discussed typography and how he uses software to create original typeface designs. SIDEBAR: I won a typeface creation app for drawing a lowercase R! I’ll be using it to experiment with a new type family soon!

• Giovanno DiFeterici talked about historical and contemporary art and the psychology behind it. He discussed the importance of collaboration and talked about the process of creating the artwork for this year’s ConvergeSE marketing materials (which is amazing).

• Bermon Painter showed how he successfully eliminates wireframes and excessive documentation and jumps right into rapid prototyping by using sketches and actual content (as opposed to greek copy).

On Saturday, we heard from nine or ten more speakers who discussed topics ranging from mobile testing, building online communities and the importance of customer service, simplicity in design, coding for CSS, importance of social groupings and identity, design process and much more.

Overall, a great conference and a great venue to meet new people and to learn more about web design and development. Way to go Converge SE — I’ll be back next year!