Geeking Out to Frontend Conference ‘17
The Frontend Conference is described as a platform for Swiss and European researchers, developers and designers to present their projects and latest technologies in the digital realm.
As I walked into the old paper factory venue, Alte Papierfabrik - Sihlcity Zurich, I was delighted to be walking into what I know now to be so much more than just a presentation platform.
It was a world of inspiration, laughter and empathy in an area to learn from great minds - local and international alike. Not to mention, my favorite part about being at a conference like this: to properly geek out about geeky things among your geek peers. My colleague Sarah Geissberger and I had sparkles in our eyes watching Sarah Drasner’s talk on Scalable Vector Graphics: «SVG can do that?!». Yes. I will repeat: Scalable Vector Graphics. Goodness me, that is some cool...
The lectures were diverse, some more technical teachings for development, some inspirational, some to take us through experiences and their own learnings thus far in which most of the crowd could relate to.
The talks I attended, that I enjoyed and stuck with me the most, were given by: Mike Monteiro, Sarah Drasner, Adrian Zumbrunnen, Kim Goodwin, Vitaly Friedman and Sarah Semark.
I would highly recommend anyone, from any professional background or interest to enjoy them as well on the Frontend Conference Vimeo page.
Mike Monteiro opened the festival and I think he resonated with everyone who attended throughout the two days. Though heavy at times, the passion in which he spoke about the responsibilities of all designers and the impact we can have on others was powerful.
From what we decide we are willing to work on in our everyday jobs, or politically – if there is ever the hesitation of doing something right or immoral –would you question it? Would you be able to stand up and say ‘no’? Would you be scared of being fired or come to the conclusion that if you didn’t do it – someone else would, so what’s the difference?
These are all important and significant questions Monteiro thrust upon us, as he took us through history and our present history in the making. We saw how all the above have proven their effects in negative and positive ways through the power of design.
«Design is: The intentional solution to a problem within a set of constraints [...] So when I talk about design, and trust me we are talking about design, we have to also talk about the ethics of designers. Because a lack of ethics is the precursor — to fascism.»
«Most of all, I want you to remember that you are ordinary people. You are more than designers. You are citizens. You are ordinary people bound by the same social contract as every other human being on earth — and that our job, is to help and elevate each other — and I wish you all — the strength that you need to do that job well. Thank you.» - Mike Monteiro
There was a string of resemblance in several of the talks I attended. With Mike Monteiro, it was knowing our role, power and impact we have as designers and what we are willing to communicate and want to do with that power.
With Kim Goodwin, a focus on values; a company’s values or our own. How they drive decisions made by team members, and ultimately, how it translates into your customer’s experience.
Sarah Semark spoke about empathy and how important it is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. How valuable that is in giving users what they need from the experience.
Adrian Zumbrunnen has a passion and excels like no other in conversational UI's and demonstrates this on his personal website with his chatbot (https://azumbrunnen.me/). He’s shown how there is an element of delight and how people have been convinced they were really talking to someone on the ‘other side’ by his use of researched and well thought out language used to communicate with the users.
The commonality I saw in all of those lectures is how the human elements are the most important in taking our technology further (ironic?).
For design, for development, details and all user experiences - no matter what platform it lands on, I find it interesting and funny in a way, that our digital industry emphasizes we remember our own humanity and apply it to what we’re doing. It is all about how we communicate to one another and how much understanding of one’s needs we can translate and trun into a great experience to fulfill those needs.
One of my favorite aspects of the conference as a new Amazee Labs designer was being able to share it with some colleagues and keep those conversations going beyond the festival. I look forward to the next!
Fun Fact: Amazee Labs was a gold sponsor for the event.