How to design tech event experiences so everybody wins (Podcast)


On this week’s episode of the freeCodeCamp podcast, I got to chat with UX designer and musician Andi Galpern about how she creates engaging and unique experiences in the tech world. Andi shares stories about past jobs, how she started her company, her favorite moments from events she’s produced, and how to break into the design market.

Andi grew up in Florida and was first and foremost a musician at heart. Once she decided that she needed a plan other than becoming a rockstar, she picked up and moved across country to the Bay Area. After attending various tech events and taking photos, she started making connections and growing a network.

In between regular jobs, she was trying to learn more about design – but couldn’t find any meetups or events that fit the bill. So she started creating her own. And they were successful. After a while, she founded her company, Cascade SF, with the goal of helping other designers, product managers, and engineers learn more, meet other people in the community, and help each other out.

As her strategy and process changed, so did her events.

“I used to only get big name speakers. But now that I’m in control of the content, I help designers, product managers, and people in tech tell their stories. I help them design a program so they can share their knowledge and we can create more people like them. So it’s more about creating new leaders, and creating content the industry needs.”

Andi kept learning more and more about different facets of design, and she shared many insights she gained along the way.

“The product design process is holistic and a lot like life. We don’t have to have all the answers, we just have to be willing to watch people try things out and grow and learn. There are no mistakes, there are only hypotheses and data and making decisions.”

Once her events grew large enough, and she started holding after work conferences, she realized the importance of a new skill: asking for what she wanted.

“Asking for what you need or want can be really scary. But sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised – you get a response back. You never really know unless you ask.

But organizing a successful event requires much more than that. For Andi, it’s all about the quality of the content. She does her research, figures out what people want, and then puts it all together.

“Great design is about content first, so it’s about comprehension. Make sure the purpose of the event is clear. You can continue to keep tweaking your design until everyone gets it immediately. You just have to distill it down into your one core message.”

“A big part of UX design is just making things simpler and more usable so people can enjoy their lives more.”

Now, hundreds of events and conferences later, she’s running Cascade, working as a content strategist for growth at Adobe, volunteering with various organizations, dabbling back in photography and music, and dreaming of expanding her brand to different cities.

In this episode, Andi shares advice on how to put on a successful tech event, how to survive the job interview process, and how to learn all sorts of design skills. We discuss challenges she’s faced, solutions she’s created, and why she loves pinball so much, among many other things.

This interview is a 75 minute listen in your favorite podcast player app – just search for “freecodecamp” and you should find it.

If you have an Amazon Echo, you can just say “Alexa – play the freeCodeCamp podcast.”

Or you can listen to it right here in your browser.

Find Andi on Twitter here.





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