Explain, please: Help your users trust you
Berta Devant talked about ethics and the importance of having your users trust. How to do that? Well, being transparent: really think about why are you storing certain user info, or why are you asking for certain permissions, and making sure you are communicating that to the user in a clear, understandable way. Some of the things she discussed remind me of a discussion we had a couple of weeks ago at the office about dark patterns. I loved how she talked about a thing that is actually quite terrifying with humor and lots of memes. To finish with a quote, "Teenagers assume that privacy is something that they will never have".
Azahara Fernández Guizán is a doctor on Immunology and she built this thing (sorry for the inaccurate terminology) with a Raspberry and some sensors that collect air temperature and particles data to understand the risk of flu contagion and allergy risk. What I loved about the talk is that she also mentioned all the failed attempts and things that went wrong, which I can relate to because I love doing stuff with Raspberries and Arduinos, but I always mess up and break everything!
UX Engineer: engineers connecting design and front-end
Marina Aísa talked about her experience shifting from a designer role to UX engineer, to be the glue between design and front-end. I have a background in design so I can totally relate to that. Even though I chose to shift completely to the development side, I can see how this role is totally necessary, and it does not exclude other more specific roles. It kind of reminds me of the Full Stack vs Front/Back-end issue. It's not that the generalist role is meant to cover two positions and save the company some money, it's complementary and necessary to facilitate communication and seeing the bigger picture.
Software and architecture quality in a startup
Cristian Cotes talked about how we should approach the issue of code quality vs development speed. He explained the importance of being pragmatic at early stages, how it's totally ok and even necessary to forget about tests, patterns or shiny new things, reduce accidental complexity, and instead focus on getting something done quickly, and improve later once the company is in a more secure position. He also talked about the value you can get as a developer in different kinds of companies: in a startup, you get to try a lot of things, while in an established company you get to specialize in a single one. It made me think of my past job experiences, and how much I enjoy working in a consultancy like Codegram, since I get to try a lot of technologies without the chaos and rush you see in a startup.
Data visualization: A new art?
María Ballesteros talked about how to deliver abstract information in a visual, understandable way. There is a big responsibility when working with data, while it needs to be objective, it also needs to deliver a message. She gave this example on how a graphic on climate change could easily be manipulated by showing a long time period, where the line appears almost flat. I love how this ties up nicely with what Berta Devant talked about! She also showed some examples of really beautiful charts and graphs, and showed how some classic art could also be interpreted as data visualization.
It was a fun weekend, I learned a lot, met new people and had tons of interesting conversations. Finally, I wanted to highlight that most of the talks I just mentioned were delivered by women. The organization did a superb job at having a diverse speaker line-up, and it's a clear example that they are not there to fill a quota, they are there because they are great professionals. So, thanks to the organization for this nice experience, and keep up the good work!