Refresh Pittsburgh

A community of web designers & developers working to refresh the web design industry in Pittsburgh.

Next Meetup:

Left Field Meeting Space

"An Inclusive Web"

Heather Migliorisi

"The UX of Great UI Animation"

Val Head


January 2016 Meetup!

Please join us on Thursday, January 28th at 6:30 PM as we kick off the 10th year of Refresh Pittsburgh!  RSVP at Eventbrite!

We’re excited to finally get our event series back on track and especially excited to continue our partnership with Smith Brothers Agency and Left Field Meeting Space.

As always, Refresh Pittsburgh is free to all attendees, we just ask that you register at Eventbrite so we know how many people to plan for.

We have a cool event scheduled for our first meet-up of 2016.

We’ll begin the evening with “An Inclusive Web” a talk by Heather Migliorisi which she recently presented at CSS Dev Conf 2015 :

“An Inclusive Web” by Heather Migliorisi

The web is accessible by default, but unintentional barriers are are keeping people out. If planned and developed according to standards, websites can be easy for everyone use.

From this talk, learn:

  • Some quick and easy fixes you can do right now (contrast, colors, and :focus)
  • Common mistakes we make (background images, icons, placeholder text vs label, semantic faux pas and roles)
  • How to handle forms and errors
  • Testing techniques and automation
  • How to ensure company-wide standards

As the Senior UI Developer for, Heather was responsible for bringing innovative industry ideas to the table for the company. Some of those ideas include developing the company’s custom pattern library and code-based style guide, responsive image techniques and accessibility solutions. In her free time, Heather works on both the Make WordPress Accessible development team and testing team and contributes to the

Next up, we’re psyched to have Val Head sharing some UX Animation knowledge with us!

“The UX of Great  UI Animation” by Val Head

Animation is a powerful design tool that we too often ignore. When used well motion can engage, communicate and improve interactions. That’s the kind of animation we want in our work: animation that has both purpose and style. Carefully crafting these moments makes our work more memorable and enjoyable to use. In this session we’ll discuss where animation can best inform UX and how CSS can help you build more sophisticated animated interactions on the web.

Val is a designer and web animation consultant with a talent for getting designers and developers alike excited about the power of animation. She is the author of The Pocket Guide to CSS Animations and the upcoming Designing Interface Animations.

She curates the UI Animation Newsletter, hosts the All The Right Moves screencast, and co-hosts the Motion and Meaning podcast. Val leads workshops at companies and conferences around the world on motion design for the web and loves every minute of it.

Other Stuff

In addition, we’ll have some giveaways from O Reilly Media as well as some information on our upcoming Web Design Day conference in June!

Don’t forget to RSVP!

Refresh Update!

It’s time to get this ball rolling again!

Thank you to everyone who supported and attended this year’s Web Design Day Conference.  This year was one of our most successful and funnest events yet.  It’s get more complicated to put on this conference every year but it always is worth it.  We’ll be doing it again for sure next year and we’ll be releasing some information soon once we confirm some dates.

As usual, Refresh Pittsburgh slows down a little bit in the summer, but this year we got slower than we hoped.  So don’t worry folks, we’re still kicking!

We should be announcing out next meet-up soon.  In the meantime we are also taking submissions for any upcoming talks.  If you would like to present at an upcoming meet-up, please email us at and we’ll talk more.

We have a few interesting things lined up for the rest of the year, just a matter of getting dates solidified.

We’re also in need of a few places that could host upcoming events.  If you can hold around 50 people we would love to chat!


March 2015 Meetup

Please join us on Thursday, March 19th at 6:30pm as we feature a night geared towards creative/web agency business owners both big and small!  As always, please RSVP by registering at our EventBrite event page.

We’ll begin the night with a presentation by Cynthia Closkey, Principal Partner at SHIFT Collaborative.

“Why You Need a Manifesto, and How to Make One”

Manifestos aren’t just for revolutionaries. They’re for anyone who wants to make a mark on the world. Find out how a manifesto can help you and your company, and how to create one. It’s time to start your own revolution!

Cynthia Closkey is a principal partner at Shift Collaborative, a creative and digital communications firm in Pittsburgh, PA. She has worked at high-tech companies (NeXT Computer, Oracle Corporation, Powersim Corporation, and Gensym Corporation, to name some highlights), and has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Sloan School of Management at MIT. In her work she brings together skills in website development, communication, marketing strategy, user experience design, and process improvement. When she’s not working, Cynthia spends her time writing and reading, enjoying music, film, and theater, and scheming how to keep her cats from destroying her furniture.

We’ll also be joined by our friend Rob Harr, Vice President of Sparkbox in Dayton, OH.

“Why Your Business Should Have an Apprentice Program”

Good talent is hard to find. What if your business grew new talent from within rather than hiring on the open market?

There are two types of companies—talent consumers and talent producers. Sparkbox believes that being a talent producer is a more sustainable path for the future. Running an apprenticeship program for the last four years, we’ve had some amazing results. Apprenticeships are a great way for a company to give back to the industry while still adding to the bottom line and plan for the future.

During this session, Rob will share how Sparkbox runs thier apprenticeship, their mistakes, and their successes.

As Vice President of Sparkbox, Rob is responsible for the operations and financials of the company. With a background in software development, Rob is always ready to challenge the development process. On any given day Rob meets with prospective clients, works with employees, and continues to evolve the business of Sparkbox.


Project Management Meetup Reschedule!

The new date for our Project Management meetup is Thursday, February 5th!  All attendees must re-register, thank you!

Please register to join us on Thursday, February 5th at 6:30 PM at Left Field Meeting Space for the next Refresh Pittsburgh meet-up.

We’ll be talking all things Project Management! So to all our usual developers and designers that attend, it’s time to ask your friendly project manager out for a night of Refresh Pittsburgh goodness and some quality hang-out time after our meet-up. If you are a Project Manager, make sure you add a little padding into your deliverable times next week to ensure that you can make it out to our meet-up!

As usual, we have got two excellent talks lined up!

We’ll start the night with a return to the speakers podium by Josh Sager, Digital Development Manager at Smith Brothers.

Project Managers are Your Friend

No matter the size of the project, getting things done to a quality level is a difficult proposition. Who you work with has a big impact on your approach and the outcome. As the day to day stresses land on your desk, it’s easy to feel like you’re on an island or worse – a sinking ship. You need a partner in crime that you can trust every step of the way. For Josh, that’s a Project Manager. This talk will breakdown common misconceptions between Project Managers and Developers and feature stories, thinking and advice on establishing a strong working relationship that produces quality work.

Josh is the Digital Development Manager of the Smith Brothers Agency where he leads a team of talented developers and works directly with International Brands to transform creative concepts into a digital reality. Previously he was the Program Director for Multimedia Technologies at the Pittsburgh Technical Institute where he made significant contributions to course curriculum and earned several awards for excellence in education. You can find him on twitter, speaking at conferences, teaching creative arts and technology, reading computer books, screen printing, and tinkering with electronics.

Next, we’ll have the Refresh Pittsburgh debut of Kate Daly, Project Manager at Siteworx.

Zen and the Art of Expectations Management

Project management is more than meetings and budget reports: It’s about fueling trust, finding motivations, and managing everyone’s expectations. Expectations management can be challenging for both internal and agency PMs. This talk will focus on the holistic side of project management — and the balancing act PMs have to perform every day while they wrangle stakeholders, supervisors, devs, and designers.

Kate is a project manager at Siteworx, a digital experience agency based outside of DC. A self-described UX evangelist and armchair content strategist, Kate speaks and writes frequently on the art of project management. She’s a 2015 contributor to The Pastry Box Project, and you can read her writing on Medium, check out her website at, and follow her tweets @tikikate.

To attend our (always) free meet-up, please register at our EventBrite page.

November 2014 Meetup!

Please register to join us at 6:30pm on Tuesday, November 18th at Left Field Meeting Space for our next meet-up.

Thanks to this month’s sponsors Bearded and our own Web Design Day for providing funding for a great November lineup.

Left Field Meeting Space is located on the 4th floor of 116 Federal St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. There is plenty of street & garage parking in the area. You can also check this page for detailed directions.

We’ll be starting promptly at 6:30pm. As usual, all Refresh Pittsburgh Meet-Ups are free but all attendees need to register to attend.

We will start the night with a presentation by Katy Watkins.

“Keep Calm and Carry On: Coping with the Uncontrollable”

Very little in life is truly under your control, and the more people you deal with the more complicated things get. How you choose to approach problems drastically changes your chances of success. Whether you’re dealing with complications at work or just trying to keep a project going on the side, it helps to know what you’re dealing with as much as possible. This talk will look at how you can set yourself and your projects up for success by looking inward just as much as you look out.

Katy currently works at Forever as an Assistant Digital Marketer, where she writes, designs, and occasionally dabbles in code. In her no-longer-copious spare time she keeps The Pastry Box Project on schedule, editing submissions and wrangling content from 30+ regular contributors to ensure there’s a new post every day, 365 days a year. You can find her rambling about nothing in particular at @_katywatkins.

Next, we will be joined by our friend Ben Callahan:

“Creating Something Timeless.”

In this presentation, Ben will share his thinking on group improvisation, collaboration, fluency, humility, and empathy as it relates to structuring a team to do timeless work. He will also share an idea he is working on, which involves the path teams need to take in order to increase quality and allow for innovative thinking.

President of Sparkbox and founder of the Build Right workshop series, Ben shares his ideas about the web on the Sparkbox Foundry and other leading industry blogs. He’s incredibly grateful for the team at Sparkbox as they pioneer new responsive web design techniques, and he continues to push for great user experiences outside the context of specific devices. You can find him speaking around the worldrambling on Twittertinkering with his personal site, or splitting wood in his backyard for next winter.