The Email Design Conference 2014

I had the pleasure of attending the TEDC14 in Boston. It was my first proper industry conference and prior to going, I hadn't ever met any of the speakers or attendees in person. Truth be told, I was terrified. But everyone made my experience a memorable one.

Litmus and MailChimp

Litmus put in a lot of work to organize and run this conference. Their professionalism and attention to detail showed everywhere I looked. The entire Litmus staff were available to chat throughout the conference (I figured they’d be running around like crazy). I was able to talk with Drew, Jordan, Alan, Kevin, Jason, Justine, James, and even Paul. Getting to know some of the people behind the company added a nice personal touch to the whole conference.

Also a massive thanks to MailChimp, who paid for my conference ticket and workshop pass. I wouldn’t have been at TEDC without MailChimp. They made my trip happen. Full stop.

Me and Fabio Carneiro.
Thank you MailChimp

I’m forever grateful to Litmus and MailChimp for making these few days possible for me!

The Hotel and Venue

I stayed at the Seaport Hotel, across the street from the conference venue. I was only there to sleep, but it one of the nicest, most comfortable rooms I’ve ever stayed in.

Boston Seaport World Trade Center.
Boston Seaport World Trade Center

The Seaport World Trade Center is a great venue and Litmus designed the conference space very well. Everything was clearly marked and I was never confused for long before someone from Litmus was there to help. Restrooms were clearly marked, drinks and snacks were plentiful, and there was ample place to sit down for a quick break when needed.

The Workshops and Sessions

Conference Signage.

The sessions did not disappoint. As a designer, I gravitated towards talks focused on the build side of email. I knew the TEDC experts know their stuff, but was blown away at just how much they think about the entire email lifecycle, from planning to fixing edge cases through to reporting. I have a lot to learn and did my best to step back and look at the bigger picture. I’ve already begun to update my email process after listening to Fabio, Brian, and Kevin talk about their workflows. These guys truly have a deep understanding of design tooling.

I was impressed with every talk I attended, but one caught me off guard (in a good way). Jay Jhun and Megan Merrifield talked about email projects within an organization. They spoke about project management, educating clients, incomplete project briefs, last minute requests, slipping deadlines, approval processes, and organizational standards. As a one-man-band at my job, these are issues I face with almost every project. I’m not yet sure how their talk will impact my work, but I’ve already downloaded their project planner and started making my own version.

The People

I’d been looking forward to meeting some of the folks I look up to in the email world. Until the conference, my only outlets were Twitter and email forums. With so many people in the same place, it was nice to hang out in real life (and prove these are real people and not Twitter bots I'd been conversing with). Brian Graves, Brent Walter, Kevin Mandeville, Fabio Carniero, Nicole Merlin, Ros Hodgekiss, Alex Ilhan, Jason Rodriguez, just to name a few.

Alex Ilhan, Ros Hodgekiss, and I.
Alex Ilhan, Ros Hodgekiss, and I

I also had a wonderful time talking with folks I hadn’t previously interacted with. Litmus designed the conference to put different folks together. I channeled my inner-extrovert (which was hard!) and met a number of new folks whom I hope to stay in touch with. Priyanka Shitole, Lydia Roberts, Aurelien Coste, Tommy Grimes, Jay Jhun, Jason Meeker, and Anthony Tackett, just to name a few.

The Conference Outside the Conference

As with many conferences, the shop talk didn’t end at 5:30p. Email geeks organized small meetups for dinners and drinks. It was nice hanging out with different folks from different places and talk about more than just email.

Fun @ TEDC14.
Email, drinks, and something called “Crab Bonanza”

I also attended the dribbble meetup on Monday evening which, while open to everyone, had an email design theme. I’ve been on dribbble user since 2010 and consider Dan to be one of the founding fathers of web design. It was wonderful having so much I enjoy in the same room.


During my few days at TEDC, something unexpected happened: Cerberus came up. Cerberus is an open-source responsive email foundation I created. At TEDC, I met a few folks that actually use it.

Wait, what? You mean people use this thing?

I was incredibly happy to hear from folks who’ve benefitted from Cerberus. I also learned the templates are included in the Litmus Builder template library.

Oh, and you should sign up for Litmus Builder. It's a browser based editor with lots of niceities for just folks who build emails. Sweet...

Our Hackaton

Alex Ilhan on a laptop.
Alex hacking on my email

Before the conference, Alex Ilhan and I had the idea of having an email hackathon. I designed an email and brought it to the conference for him to live-code. But that’s another blog post!

Litmus swag.
Until next year!

So there you have it. Big thanks to both Litmus and MailChimp for making my first conference experience a memorable one. It was so fun hanging out with such a smart, welcoming bunch of email folks. I'm already looking forward to next year.