uWestFest Reviewed: An American Perspective

Last weekend, the Umbraco community gathered in San Diego, California for the annual uWestFest Conference. With over 100 people in attendance, this year’s success was recognized by many, including Niels Hartvig, who tweeted that he was "very impressed with the entire #uWest16".

This year we kicked off the conference with a welcome event at the Hilton Garden Inn Old Town. The atmosphere outside on the patio was upbeat, the hor d’ oeuvres were delicious and the drinks were flowing. It was a great opportunity to network and get to know all of the key players in the Umbraco community. For many fellow Umbracians, it was a chance to catch up with old friends. This year’s Gold Sponsor for uWestFest was uCommerce, and they did an amazing job with the pre-party to get everyone warmed up.

Prior to the start of the event there was a lot of buzz around the great line-up of speakers for this year. It didn’t disappoint. Attendees were able to listen to everything from deeply technical solutions for managing performance, to how Umbraco can be implemented for marketing and tracking strategies, and even saw some great examples of how Umbraco has been used in the Usecase track.


The morning of the event, I arrived at the beautiful University of San Diego with the Scandia team to check people in for the day. As attendees strolled in, I was a little nervous but quickly at ease after the first few people checked in. The Umbraco community is one friendly bunch, especially at 8am! After some post check-in socializing and coffee, it was go time. Niels kicked off the day with an excellent keynote speech. The Umbraco community continues to grow and it was exciting hear about all of the cool new features we can expect in the upcoming year, especially for UaaS.

I spent the day in room 2 to ensure sessions remained on time so unfortunately I am not able to comment on all of the speakers. I wish I could’ve had the opportunity to hear all of the sessions but I was not disappointed with the speakers I had the chance to listen to. I will try to do my best in recapping some of the session highlights.

The first session of the day was Heather Floyd, Building grid layouts based on a framework.

  • Heather discussed best practices for developers when building grid layouts. She provided great tips based on her experiences working with the grid.

Next up was Kevin Giszewski, Pushing the limits – Umbraco Media.

  • Kevin spoke about using Umbraco as a DAM with Azure blob storage. Umbraco has helped him solve various roadblocks while trying to find solutions to ease the management for media on the Notre Dame website.

Sunday Coulter was the final speaker for the morning session, if you build it, will they come?

  • Sunday discussed the importance of building sites for the user experience and she provided helpful tips and resources for working with clients. Some recommendations were to have in-depth discovery sessions with clients as well as referring to their websites analytics data.
"Talk quality at #uWest16 is impressive" - NH

After the final morning session it was time to enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather with an outdoor lunch. The conversation at the lunch tables adds so much to the overall conference experience. Developers, designers, and users all get a chance to share with each other about their solutions and toss around best practices. It was also nice to hear all of the feedback about the morning sessions.

The first post lunch session was Erica Quessenberry, The ROI of Diversity.

  • Erica provided various statistics on diversity in the workplace. You can check them out on SlideShare
  • We also listened to audio from Leslie Miley, a former Software Engineer for Twitter on his experience of the lack of diversity in the workplace.

The fifth session of the day was Jason Prothero and Alan Ballard, Favorite/Must-have packages and techniques.

  • This session was focused on the content editor experience and Umbraco packages to enhance the editor experience.
  • Check out this ProWorks blog post to see a list of packages that were discussed.

The closing session of the day was Per Ploug, Umbraco 7.4

  • Per demonstrated the greatly improved UX capabilities for content editors.
  • 7.4 improved the ability to edit doc types, and manage the grid and media section. I think everyone is excited about these awesome improvements.

Though I wasn’t able to listen in on all of the sessions, I spoke with other attendees, and the feedback on the conference, as a whole, was positive. It seems people really enjoyed the day. The chief unicorn said it best when he tweeted "Talk quality at #uWest16 is impressive" and "#uWest16 was awesome".

My only feedback for next year would be having a little more time allowance between sessions and possibly extending the conference to a second day so attendees have the opportunity to listen to all of the speakers.

I look forward to continue learning and growing within this great community and attending #uWest17 next year. Lastly, I have to give a shout out to Nik and Amy from Scandia for planning such a wonderful event!

Want to see what others said about uWest16? Check out twitter at

Kendra DeMello

Kendra is the the Account Manager at Scandia, where she's the go-to for any client needs - getting answers, status updates, or tracking down other members of the Scandia team.

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