Last week was an exciting week for me. I travelled down from Manchester to London on Wednesday to attend the Generate London Conference. Held in the Royal Institution of GB, in the centre of Mayfair, the event has been held since 2013. Generate was created to help grow your skills as a UX/UI Designer or front-end developer. Providing talks from industry experts and workshops to enhance your skills, Generate is the ideal conference for designers, developers or even marketers to attend. For me, I wanted to attend for numerous reasons: to gain inspiration and knowledge from industry experts, and learn new ways in which designers are working for the future.
Arriving in London
I travelled down on Wednesday afternoon, leaving the Dreamr office after lunch and heading to Piccadilly station, I was excited for my 2 days ahead. When I arrived in London, the first task was to check into my hotel. After that, I must admit my next priority was to find somewhere I could watch the Champions League Game (after all I couldn’t miss City!). I managed to stumble across a nice bar in Mayfair providing the football (mission accomplished). Unfortunately, City lost so that concluded my first evening in London. I retired back to my hotel room ready for Generate in the morning!
After helping myself to perhaps too many servings of the hotel buffet breakfast, I made my way to the Royal Institution of GB. When I arrived, I grabbed my pass and attended the introduction talks. I was surprised with how many attended this year, the conference was very busy, this year stepped up a level!
'Web Assets at Lightspeed'
There were lots of talks scheduled for Thursday, and I genuinely enjoyed every single one of them. However, there were two stand out talks for me.
The first was a very engaging and informative presentation ‘Web Assets at Lightspeed’ by Tony Harmer. Tony is a successful illustrator, designer and learning content author who has worked with some of the world’s largest brands. He is also an Adobe certified expert and instructor in numerous applications, so I was hugely optimistic to learn more from him.
The talk was incredibly relevant for me. Tony discussed the ‘more and faster for less’ mentality we experience nowadays. Providing information on generating UI assets and offering tutorials on workflow efficiencies that strive to meet the ‘more and faster’ demands. A great talk that definitely reflects some experiences I’ve had in the past as a designer.
‘Shokunin of the Web’
The next talk was from Bruce Lawson, a successful web standards consultant. His talk ‘Shokunin of the Web’ took a slightly different angle than the previous talks. I was interested in what would be mentioned. Bruce explained how being a ‘Shokunin’ is useful in the tech world. Explaining that your ‘attitude and social conscience’ also plays a part when it comes to web standards. Highly interesting and something to consider for the future as design changes and evolves.
With the conference mostly done for Thursday, and with my brain reaching capacity from all the information I retained from the talks, I attended the afterparty drinks and set out for the evening to explore London. I brought along my camera with me in case I stumbled across anything particularly photogenic!
Friday - The Final Day
After a repeat of Thursday morning where I yet again ate way too much at breakfast, I headed back to the conference for the last day. Friday wasn’t as busy as Thursday and I wondered what the day ahead would hold.
I was not disappointed, all the talks on Friday exceeded my expectations. The most notable talks for me were from Daniel Olson and Andrey Godfrey.
'The Future is SAAS'
Daniel Olson is the chief operations officer at Digital Cube – a software solutions company. The talk Daniel provided, ‘The Future of SAAS’, was very intriguing. He explored the reasons why software is now a service and how it is changing the way organisations operate and how it affects our daily lives.
Something that specifically interested me was when he discussed how design is about solving problems and creating solutions. Daniel delved into how Opensource Java frameworks are used to create UI. He also mentioned the ‘Hitchhikers Guide to Service Design’. This is something I mention often at Dreamr when I talk about running question protocol.
‘When Design Systems Fail’
The final talk, and my personal favourite, was from Senior Design Specialist, Andrew Godfrey. Andrew has built designs systems and products for numerous worldwide brands. As a fellow designer, I felt there was a lot that I could learn from Andrew’s talk, ‘When Design Systems Fail’. A fantastically informative and honest talk detailing what to do when things go wrong. He talked about creating what would essentially be a design kit, outlining the benefits of such a product – something I think could be very useful for Dreamr. He discussed accessibility and usability and how to create accurate roadmaps that consider different stages, such as what to do now, next and later.
There were numerous reasons why I felt this talk particularly stood out. The first being that it was relevant to my role, and I knew I would be able to take a lot away. The mention of roadmaps and reusing elements was also exceptionally interesting for me, as well as the ‘Rolls Royce’ mindset – something we manage at Dreamr with the use of Agile.
As I made my way back to busy Euston station, I reflected on my two days at Generate. I attended the conference last year. This year however, I feel I have come back to work with even more knowledge. Human-centred design and user-centred design were two topics that I wanted to expand my knowledge on. When we create products at Dreamr, it’s constantly in my mind that we are creating for people. It’s easy to forget this when you are immersed in work-mode, and clients have their own personal opinions, but it should always be at the forefront of every product we create. Generate has reaffirmed for me the fact that the user is the most important person and always will be.
Thanks to all the fantastic speakers and industry experts at Generate this year who broadened my knowledge, I had a great two days. See you all next year!
Some images I took of scenic London