Win a free ticket to the MoDev UX conference!

MoDev UX Conference in DC

One lucky reader will win a free ticket to the MoDev UX conference in Washington, DC this month! That’s a $799 value, and all you need to do is tell me why you want to go — I’ve got a form at the bottom of this post. But first, I want to tell you why I’m going and why you should want to go, too.

Why are conferences important?

Once of the first books I bought when I decided to quit my job at The Verge and start freelancing and working on this website full-time was Deduct It!: Lower Your Small Business Taxes by Stephen Fishman. Up until that point, my knowledge of the United States tax system was practically nonexistent, and I got the book to make sure that my first small business venture got off on the right foot.

But reading Deduct It! had unexpected consequences beyond simply understanding the law: each new chapter gave me a ton of new ideas for growing my business.

I was expecting a book about tax law to be extremely boring, but it read more like an instruction manual for kicking ass in small business. By learning the laws pertaining to certain types of purchases and income, I discovered new assets to buy and revenue streams I never even considered.

They say that the best way to learn a new language is through total immersion. That’s exactly what happens at conferences. And speaking this new language is the best way to think differently about your own projects and problems.

Why should I learn UX?

A computer science degree doesn’t teach how to code — it teaches how to think. Students still need to independently study individual programming languages, but the computer science background makes learning new languages much easier. When you already understand the concept of a linked list or an array, it’s easier to learn how to write them in Ruby, Java, Objective-C, or any other programming language.

Similarly, user experience teaches a different way to think about problems. Learning a new method for structuring a website or app will reveal user problems you never even realized existed.

Novice…no longer!

I define a novice as a person who doesn’t know enough about a topic to even ask the right questions. I was a novice when I decided to make my first iPhone app, and remained a novice for much longer than was necessary due to my stubborn desire to learn how to code all by myself and never ask for help.

But I’ve learned that it doesn’t actually take very long to exit the novice stage. The best way to do it is to find someone who knows more than you and make them talk about the topic of interest. Listening to the way these “experts” talk, and the specific points they make, is truly the real fast lane out of novice-dom.

Alright, so gimme my ticket

Ah yes, the free ticket to the MoDev UX conference!

The people who run the MoDev conference have been kind enough to give me two tickets — one for myself and another to give to one lucky reader. You’ll have access to all the workshops and the entire conference for the full two days. That’s a $799 value.

All you need to do is fill out the form below. You have until midnight on Thursday, May 8th. I’ll be contacting the winner on Saturday, May 10th.

Good luck, and I hope to see you there!

Contest entry is now closed.

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My guest is Lis Hubert, the user experience consultant behind Hubert Experience Design. She was writing Java when she got her first information architecture job offer, and her career has blossomed from there. I talk to her about her experiences in the field and she even shares was it was like to hire two interns at her one-woman UX operation last year.

Entrepreneurship is about working for yourself, and that’s exactly what Lis is doing. There’s great information in here if you’re looking to do the same.

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014 : The User Doesn’t Always Need It Easy with Mona Patel

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This week on the podcast, I talk to Mona Patel, the founder and CEO of Motivate Design and UXHires. We talk about what it’s like to found and run a UX agency and what entrepreneurs can do to instantly improve their user’s experience. We even peer out into the future a little, and Mona shares why she thinks virtual reality will completely change the way people experience the world. She says something I have never even thought about that completely blew my mind.

This episode will help you stop building products and start building products that people will actually use.

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005 : Fostering good design when you’re artistically inept with Mike Blea

NNL PodcastI first met Mike Blea (of Michael Blea Design) when I worked at LAPTOP Magazine. He was part of the magazine’s design team, building the magazine’s layout, mocking up covers, and helping with graphics for web. We’ve remained friends even after both of us left that job, and Mike even helped me design the cover for 8 Things to Learn Before Making Your App.

I wanted to bring Mike on the show to have a fresh perspective on building products. I, personally, am completely design challenged — a glaringly apparent fact when looking at the first version of my first app Reader Tracker. I’ve learned a lot about the value of good design since then, and Mike has definitely helped me out along the way.

Mike gives some insights into the life of a professional designers and shares some tips for hiring a freelance designer of your own. If you work it right, you won’t end up spending a fortune.

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001 : It’s never too late to become a coder with Will Larche

NNL PodcastIn this inaugural episode of the Novice No Longer Podcast, I’m joined by Will Larche, the Lead iOS Developer at LearnVest. This episode is a little different than the stuff I usually teach — I almost always tell my students to hire a developer rather than learn to code themselves. But sometimes learning to program is the right path, and Will proves that anyone can become a developer, regardless of previous experience. Continue reading