Local web design conference lands big names

Daniel MacEachern
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Inaugural 'Go Beyond Pixels' conference features Jeffrey Zeldman

Levin Mejia, the organizer of next month's "Go Beyond Pixels" conference, still can't believe his luck.

Mejia wanted to bring together local web designers and developers for the one-day conference, to talk about industry trends and opportunities, and to listen to presentations from highly regarded speakers. He wound up with the "King of the Web," Jeffrey Zeldman, for the keynote speech.

"There's a lot of people here who are great designers, great developers, leading our industry, and I'm always running across them and never knowing they lived here in St. John's," Mejia said.

"I thought it'd be a great way to get everyone together. Initially, that was my idea, just get everyone together. Maybe we can get one of these big speakers to come, and maybe somebody locally will talk."

Then he managed to get some of the biggest names in the industry to come. In addition to Zeldman, designers and developers Aarron Walter, Ethan Marcotte, Jeremy Keith, Josh Clark and - from St. John's - Geri Coady are attending.

"So what I plan to accomplish is to get the whole community together in Newfoundland ... in one room to talk about the things that we love to do every single day," he said.

"And on top of that, be exposed to leaders in the industry who are really, really difficult to get access to."

The goal, he said, is to spark passion and creativity in the province and put Newfoundland and Labrador at the forefront of the technology and web design industry.

Zeldman is credited with helping to establish web design standards, explained Mejia.

"Back when Netscape, the first browser, came out, there were no web standards," he said.

"And he pioneered those web standards across all web browsers. So the reason why the web is today, is because he had a major influence from that."

Walter was the first speaker to sign up, after receiving an email from Mejia. He'd been looking for an excuse to visit Newfoundland anyway, explained Mejia, and once Walter was on board, others quickly followed.

"These guys all know each other. They're always going to conferences together. He said, 'Do you mind if I talk to Jeff?' And I said, 'Jeffrey Zeldman?' Such a massive name, wasn't even in my radar," said Mejia, laughing, adding that he was very lucky to get everybody.

The conference happens May 25 at the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation at Memorial University, where Mejia works.

He said if things go well, he's hoping to make the conference an annual event.

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Netscape, Bruneau Centre for Research

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's

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