Inspiring! Users First! Fall 2013 IT Unconference

I was invited down to this year’s YUnconference at Yale University. Between the impressive number of camps and conferences that Yale does and their impressive execution of their YaleSites SaaS Drupal Platform, I’ve become a pretty big fan of theirs. This “unconference” did not disappoint. In fact, it was very inspiring.

I attended a couple great discussions and came away with two solid take-aways.

Discussion one was “Accessibility and External Vendors” and we talked about different meanings of accessibility and compared them to the different forms of existing compliances. I left this conversation thinking that I’d like to consider accessibility as an additional layer to responsive design. In the end responsive design really needs to consider not just the device but the user, who they are, what they are doing and what they are capable of. Accessibility could be considered and treated as a very important additional “viewport/breakpoint.”

Discussion two asked about what can make things easier for the developer when usability/user experience changes are needed and requested. I raised my standard valuation of the critical importance of the distinction between the Maker’s and Manger’s schedules. We discussed the importance of as much non-coding work being done and decided as possible before any change requests make it to the developer, so that they can then focus just on development and not get distracted by aspects of the work that are not their expertise. We discussed how, for this to happen, UX needs to be taken seriously and have budget and resource allotted to it, or else we end up putting it on the developer. I left this conversation thinking that, much like Accessibility, UX is something we need to, as makers of the web, intentionally decide to take seriously first to do it well, if at all.

I was also inspired as this conference brought me way outside of my Drupal island, which I enjoy and is a huge part of a side project which I am very passionate about: NERDs.

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