Design & Content Conference 2018

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Iris Kwok

Hanover, MD, 23 August 2018

In July, I was very fortunate to be in beautiful Vancouver to attend the Design & Content Conference hosted by Republic of Quality. I’ve never been to such a large design conference before and I was super excited to connect with other designers and see the diversity of speakers and talks. I was not disappointed – I was so inspired by all the fantastic talks and the new friends I made. I gained so much to bring back to my work at Onyx Point, LLC.

Some very brief highlights from my trip

Day 1

The first day for me was the Building Flexible Design Systems workshop with Yesenia Perez-Cruz, a Senior Design Director for Vox Media. I learned about deploying methods and strategies to identify design patterns and design components while keeping in mind the the larger goals of the system and the brand. She also demonstrated how to scale a design system – all really useful for the design system that I’m currently working on!

Day 2

The talks started with Kat Holme, author and founder of, and her amazing Mismatch talk on inclusive (and exclusive) design. It is important to recognize who is excluded from current systems and to involve them in the design process.

Sara Getz, a Content Strategy Manager for Facebook, encouraged designers to really understand the user’s point of view as they interact with your product. She emphatically taught everyone that YOU ARE NOT YOUR USER.

Paul McAleer, a self proclaimed fan of awesome things and Associate Experience Director at Rightpoint, gave a humorous presentation on the information architecture of pants.

I also experienced a powerful talk by Sara Wachter-Boettcher, a Content Strategist and UX expert, on ethical design and how tech is failing us. I’m still upset I didn’t buy her book, Technically Wrong! It should definitely go on our office bookshelf.

I made super awesome friends!

We also attended the live No, You Go podcast-style show! If you haven’t followed them before, start now. They empower professional women. The recording of the live show is available to listen at

Day 3

Gagan Diesh, founder of DesignStamp, gave an important talk about being an ally of under-represented groups. He also had one of my favorite slides that I share with everyone.

Farai Madzima, a Logistics Experience Designer for Shopify, did great storytelling in his talk about cultural bias in design. He ran out of time but I would have loved hearing him speak more!

My professors and friends from the Human-Centered Computing program at UMBC would have loved Paige Maguire’s talk about conversational design. She is a Design Director at Fjord. She asks, “Why make our voice interfaces human-like? For whom does it benefit? Does it become skeuomorphism?”

Wrapping up

Thank you to Republic of Quality for organizing the amazing, inspiring, and powerful conference and to Shopify for the DCC Fund that enabled me to be able to attend! You should come next year too!

You can read more about Onyx Point, LLC's commitment to user-centered design here and here, and find out about the products we are building at SIMP.

Iris is a UX/UI Designer at Onyx Point, LLC. She is currently the lead designer on the SIMP Console project.

At Onyx Point, our engineers focus on Security, System Administration, Automation, Dataflow, and DevOps consulting for government and commercial clients. We offer professional services for Puppet, RedHat, SIMP, NiFi, GitLab, and the other solutions in place that keep your systems running securely and efficiently. We offer Open Source Software support and Engineering and Consulting services through GSA IT Schedule 70. As Open Source contributors and advocates, we encourage the use of FOSS products in Government as part of an overarching IT Efficiencies plan to reduce ongoing IT expenditures attributed to software licensing. Our support and contributions to Open Source, are just one of our many guiding principles

  • Customer First.
  • Security in All We Do.
  • Pursue Innovation with Integrity.
  • Communicate Openly and Respectfully.
  • Offer Your Talents, and Appreciate the Talents of Others

design, ux, content, inclusion, diversity

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