ADDC: My first Tech Conference

I found out about ADDC a month ago through Women Who Code Barcelona and I applied for a ticket (they have ticket giveaways for women so check it out!). I am currently working as a UI designer for a company that provides services to high end hotels while I transition to web development so I thought it would be a great opportunity to further explore the mobile development/design world.

Coming from the art world, I know these events are full of opportunities to connect with more experienced people that are willing to share their ideas and knowledge and it truly met my expectations. I had an awesome experience and left with tons of new stuff to think and research about!

Here are the two highlights of the week:

Prototype Everything by John Sundell

About: John builds apps, games & developer tools. He also makes Swift by Sundell, which is a weekly blog & podcast about Swift development. He has worked for companies like Volvo & Spotify, and is currently an iOS freelancer working with a Norwegian startup called Motimate. He’s the creator of several open source projects including Unbox, SwiftPlate, Marathon & Imagine Engine ¹

Why and how to Prototype?

Prototyping is key in order to test out an idea or a new feature without doing much design or code, letting us play around without pressures and being able to throw away what we did in order to move on.

In his talk, John Sundell sets the main goal: to get to a MVP (Minimal Viable Prototype), the most basic and useful design or code to shape what you want to achieve in a limited period of time and detail.

On the developers end, tools like pseudo code, playgrounds, framer and React Native can get the work done, as Sketch and After Effects can for designers.

But you can also prototype simply by using mind-mapping, drawing by hand or HTML. Using plain HTML can be a great way to test navigation and user flow by creating trees and giving your potential users small tasks to perform and see how it goes.

.@johnsundell bringing @_inside to the stage 🍻 #ADDConf

— Luis Ascorbe (@Lascorbe) July 5, 2018

Prototype Pattern: Modularizing

Another great point that Sundell explored in his talk was about modularizing your code in order to minimize the time you spend coding (when you build or when you need to update something). When doing so, you rethink the way you build your app and what prefixes you are using. An example given by him was a simple user card that just by renaming the parts from user related to something more general gave him the chance to reutilize this piece in another screen of the app (see above linked tweet) and also making it easier to change content types.

Find different ways of prototyping patterns, look at prefixes to find matches. So for example if you find four classes that start with ‘User’, you can probably create a user framework or user kit that you can reuse. You can also identify code that is performing a single dedicated task such as a caching or image loading code that can also perform in isolation. If you have this you can probably reuse it in the same or other project. Sundell also advices to avoid using global states, moving them out of your classes and code, and to define clear APIs and interfaces to have more dynamic code to work with.

Prototype Everything

At the end, prototyping is about saving time and work that should be invested later when your product is truly defined. Prototyping allows us to:

  • Explore new ideas and see where they go.
  • Play with code or design without pressure and being able to throw it away when you are done.
  • Evaluate and test what you are doing.
  • Find the best way of doing something.
  • Realize if you need to add, remove or change anything about it (or start from scratch).
  • Have a tangible concept to discuss with your team and clients.

About: Previously lead designer for Googles Material design. Currently founder of the design studio [graf-ik] based in Stockholm & New York. ²

I found this talk very interesting as working remotely is part of our day to day work in Rails Girls Summer of Code and it’s something I’m looking forward to do as a developer in the future. Persson’s talk was a good overview of a remote workflow and the things he realized along the way.

Viktor Persson talking about overworking.#addconf

— ADDC — App Design & Development Conference (@addconf) July 6, 2018

Know your business

After going through a bad financial moment, the speaker realized that he needed to figure out his client flow and how to manage his income. What was a need to accept all clients to survive became a work overload that taught him three important lessons:

  • How and when to say ‘no’
  • The importance of knowing his sales pipeline
  • To always have a buffer of cash (one or two months)

Regarding the first point, I found the following advice very clever and on point. When deciding on accepting or not a client, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Do I need this to cover my costs?
  2. Would I tell people about this?

The first question will give you the chance to realize if you need the job or if you are just being greedy. The second, will help you not to lose a valuable client that you can showcase in your portfolio to attract more potential clients, even if the money is not that good.

Some guidelines for healthy remote working.#addconf

— ADDC — App Design & Development Conference (@addconf) July 6, 2018

Tips for Working Remotely

Working remotely can be really good to optimize your schedule and to achieve a great life-work balance if you do it right. For that, Persson advices to create your own routine, as hard as it is, and to include in that routine the time to communicate with your team. To improve this, remember to send things unrelated to work from time to time, try to become a better writer so you avoid misunderstandings, do weekly reports and avoid zero time overlaps. On the last point, have always at least 3 hours of time overlap so you can work at the same time and solve issues that need short time replies.

And finally, the speaker reminds us that, if we are feeling lonely and crave some human interaction, working remotely means that you can move your office to your favorite cafe or rent a coworking space and meet some cool people while you get your work done!

These were the two talks that I found more relevant to the point where I am in my career right now but all the talks were really enlightening and interesting. I encourage the readers to check the awesome people that spoke in ADDC at the conference website and check out their twitter accounts.

Again, a shout out for the ladies at Women Who Code Barcelonaand the great team at Rails Girls Summer of Code who work really hard to give opportunities to women and non-binary people in tech.

See you next year ADDC!

Written by Violeta

Original post published here.

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