Refresh Pittsburgh

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

Next Meetup:

April 28, 2016 / 6:00pm

Beer Head Bar & Eatery
(Formerly the Beer Market)

April Refresh Pittsburgh Happy Hour!

March 2016 Meetup Panel Discussion

Please join us on Tuesday, March 29th at 6:30 PM for our March Meet-up! RSVP at Eventbrite!

We’ll be meeting in our usual place at Left Field Meeting Space, provided by our hosts, Smith Brothers Agency.

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

This month, we’ll be hosting a panel discussion. Please join us for the “Freelancer’s Forum”

These days, there’s a lot of talk about striking out on your own. Going independent can be scary – but it can also be rewarding. What does it take to start your own company? How do you find clients? How do you get paid? What kind of schedule do you keep?

Whether you work with, are becoming, or are considering becoming a freelancer, we’ll answer all of your questions and more with a panel of professionals who are currently part-time and full-time freelancers. And, we’ll get the perspective of those who’ve left freelancing to join agencies or start their own companies.

Our moderator for the panel will be Jeffrey Inscho.

Jeffrey built his first website in the late-90s and has been working on the web ever since. A museopunk and cultural hacktivist based in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, Jeffrey leads the Innovation Studio, a research, design and development laboratory at Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Mildly obsessed with the collision of culture and technology, Jeffrey has spent the last decade helping cultural heritage institutions adapt and thrive in the digital age.

Jeffrey tweets @jinscho and would rather be forgotten than remembered for giving in.

Joining us on the panel will be:

Caroline Moore:
Caroline is a photographer and designer from Brownsville, Pennsylvania. She is currently working on a book which comes out this September, a conference talk on self-care, and determining a “work appropriate” amount of eyeliner. She hopes that these biographies were intended to be written in the third person.

David Newbury:
David is a freelance developer working at the intersections of technology, art, and information. He has over 15 years of experience as a freelancer, developing rich, data-driven experiences for universities, libraries, and museums, as well as large-scale interactive installations for industry and marketing. He currently works with the Carnegie Museum of Art, and has previously worked for the Smithsonian, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Victoria, and PBS, among many others.

Sean Maxa:
Sean is a graphic designer who has been freelancing part-time for 7 years focusing on Custom WordPress Themes. His experiences overlap both design and development to provide an understanding of both sides of a project and how they work together to provide unique user experiences.

Cynthia Closkey:
Cynthia is a partner and digital strategist at Shift Collaborative. She began her career working at high-tech companies, and has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Sloan School of Management at MIT. Prior to joining Shift, Cynthia worked for over 10 years as a freelance web designer and marketer, mostly through her company Big Big Design. At Shift, she hires and manages freelancers for a range of projects, so she’s had the chance to see the freelancer experience from different perspectives. In her work she brings together skills in management, website development, communication, and marketing strategy.

February 2016 Meet-up!

Please join us on Tuesday, February 23rd at 6:30 PM for our February Meet-up!  RSVP at Eventbrite!

We’ll be meeting in our usual place at Left Field Meeting Space, provided by our hosts, Smith Brothers Agency.

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’ll start the night with a presentation by Jenn Murray,  Web Manager & Creative Director for the Allegheny County Division of Computer Services.

“Embracing The Rise of the DIY Designer”

The rise of Canva marks a new era for both business and design. Entrepreneurship – particularly solo entrepreneurship – is increasing by leaps and bounds. At the same time, marketing has never been so digital and highly visual. Thus, entrepreneurs, with their tight budgets, are being forced to figure out how to code and design for themselves. (Which, for a non-designer, is immensely time-consuming and frustrating.)

While the rise of the DIY designer can be seen as detrimental to the design community, in this talk, Jenn explains why it is actually a godsend. Learn how this need is really an amazing opportunity for the design world; the exact benefits it can bring to us all; and practical tips on how you can be a part of this beneficial movement!

Jenn Murray is the Web Manager & Creative Director for the Allegheny County Division of Computer Services. Her days consist of design work, branding standards, and website update requests from the County’s various departments. (Plus lots of chocolate!)

In addition to her day job, Jenn recently transformed her own business to target the needs of the DIY designer. Specifically, those entrepreneurs who recognize quality design and its importance to their business – but can’t yet afford to hire a professional. Jenn is positioning herself as a go-to authority for resources, knowledge, and tools in this area.

When she’s not working, Jenn enjoys the Pittsburgh ballet, ballgames at PNC Park, bike rides, and belting out some tunes.

Next, we’re happy to have the return of Patrick Fulton, developer at Bearded in Pittsburgh

“Breaking Up With Media Queries”

Responsive Web Design ushered in one of the most fundamental shifts our industry has ever seen. Now, nearly six years since Ethan Marcott’s original article was published on A List Apart, we’ve begun to see RWD evolve. And, subsequently our processes, workflows, and tools have begun to evolve as well.

As developers and designers, we’re familiar with change being ever-present. As we address complex problems with solutions such as component-based design and development (aka Atomic Design), we’re faced with wondering: do our browsers’ viewport heights and widths really provide everything we need to inform our atoms, molecules, and organisms?

Enter: element queries – or, as we’ve recently reshaped them: container queries.

We’ll take a dive into what container queries are, how to use them, and when they might win out over our old friend the media query.

Patrick started building web sites in 1997, and never stopped. He takes pride in high-quality code, solving complex problems with simple solutions, and helping others. He is a frequent public speaker and writer on web development. Currently a developer at Bearded in Pittsburgh, Patrick is also co-organizer of Refresh Pittsburgh.

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!

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.