Ideas, Insights and Lightning Talks Frontend Conference 2016

This year, the Frontend Conference offered an exciting line-up as usual, but at a new location. Again, there were two tracks: one on frontend development and one on user experience. AdNovum listened to a couple of talks.

Jaime Levy is considered a UX pioneer. She already worked on digital products in the nineties and helped shape the field before it became known as such. In her keynote she analyzed success stories such as AirBnB and UBER. She showed why the combination of the right business model with a frictionless user experience can create groundbreaking products.

Jaime Levy (r) at Frontend Conference 2016

The UX strategy helps all parties involved to gain a shared vision of the product early on. User research, user testing and a continuous validation of the strategy minimize the risk of creating a product that nobody will use. With AirBnB as example, it is the obvious advantages, i.e., finding and comparing – also exceptional – private accommodations, clear price advantage, integrated payment processing and transparent rating system, which add to its success and create the desired value innovation. At best, you redefine an entire business area and the mental model of the user (how the user imagines or expects something to work).

Let there be light

This year again, the lightning talks turned out to be exceptionally thrilling. The time frame is deliberately limited to five minutes. This forces the speakers to present their topic in a focused way. Courage is rewarded. And it is part of the game that not all demos work right away in the heat of the moment. We enjoyed Markus Fiebig's demo. He used Google's Web Speech API in combination with micro controllers for his self-made home automation.

The T in team

Katie Sylor-Miller is a senior software engineer at Etsy and showed in her keynote how teamwork changes in times of off-shoring, for example because of web conferences. HTML, CSS and JavaScript, including common frameworks, rank among the basics in the area of front-end development of web applications. However, times have changed. Agile project methods are not only breaking up the process as such, but also professional profiles. In addition, the mindset behind the common separation of design/frontend and backend does not fit present projects, where JavaScript increasingly runs on the server and complex functionality is implemented on client side.

Alarm clock vs. being woken up, according to Katie Sylor-Miller

Katie makes a distinction between two profiles, I and T. I is the specialist role, T, the specialist role plus the ability and the desire to work in a transdisciplinary way. According to Katie the T includes: empathy, communication, collaboration, curiosity, creative problem solving and adaptability. A designer learns how to code and a developer learns how to design. Katie illustrates this way of thinking by means of an alarm clock. The tasks: "Design an alarm clock."  vs. "Design a better way to be woken up." The result speaks for itself …

Frontend Conference

Frontend Conference is one of the most important conferences in the area of frontend development and UX. The event took place at a new location, the old Sihlpapier factory. In the halls where industry flourished in the past, digital craft is discussed today.