DDD Perth is an inclusive conference for the Perth tech community, packed with incredible speakers, and only costs $60! This year it was held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday 10th September. I woke up terribly early for a Saturday morning and headed into town to soak up some knowledge.
DDD Perth Neon Light Sign on stage at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
Learning from previous years, I got in early to have my Keep Cup filled with coffee. I’m glad I did, as the queue grew rapidly behind me. Coffee in hand (huge shoutout to the coffee cart sponsors MOQ Digital, PlanIt and Bunnings), I made my way around the sponsor stands to collect my prize draw stamps. One of the great things about DDD is being able to chat to representatives from some awesome tech organisations (and of course pick up some swag), and ask them about their services and/or products. After learning a bit about Twilio Studio, using Auth0 with Next.js and raiding Github’s sticker collection, it was time to head into the main auditorium for the opening keynote.
Christina Aldan delivered an opening keynote centred around understanding how our memories are stored and processed, and how to train our brain to store and process the memories more efficiently. This practical soft-skills talk helped me to understand some of the ways in which my own brain prefers to encode, process and retrieve information, as well as acknowledge how practicing mindfulness can boost my brain’s efficiency.
Pro tip: The brain isn’t always ready to roll, providing up front information, reference materials and facilitating async collaboration goes a long way in helping us to process information efficiently.
For the first breakout session of the day I headed to Phil Wild’s talk on Doodling and Drawing which for me was a perfect way to start the day as I’ve always been interested in using drawings to show my ideas, but I’ve never been any good at drawing. Phil took us through a series of practical tips and exercises in using the Bikablo drawing technique to communicate ideas and concepts. He demonstrated that simply using a few primitive shapes, it’s possible to create almost any visual to support an idea or concept.
After a quick coffee refill (again, huge shoutout to the coffee cart sponsors!), I listened to Kristy Haines clear up any confusion about what design is. The great thing for me about Kristy’s talk was its timing. Personally I’ve worked in close collaboration with a design team for most of my career, so sharing ideas and feedback throughout a project feels quite natural to me by now. Recently I’ve been working with engineering teams that haven’t had as much experience working with designers and Kristy dropped some great explanations that I can use in helping them understand the benefits of working as a cross-functional team.
Pro tip: Design is never complete. Design and engineering collaboration continues throughout the lifecycle of a product, innovation is the responsibility of the entire team, not only the designers.
I’m pretty sure we’ve all experienced that feeling that we’re not good enough, or don’t deserve to be in the position we are. I know I certainly have and apparently so have 58% of tech workers. Former psychologist turned software engineer, Cristi Middag detailed the journey of her career change and how she navigated the feeling of being an imposter. Her talk also included some tools and techniques that can be used to help ban out imposter feelings individually including Cognitive Restructuring and Dysfunctional Thought Records, as well as insights for team leaders to help reduce the effect of Imposter Syndrome on individual and team performance.
As a recent convert to full time remote work I was super keen to hear Ming Johanson’s talk on productivity when working remotely. Throughout the talk were a number of tips and tricks for employers, as well as some great testimonials from Ming’s own team members, however the key takeaway here was clear as day. Trust your team, if you can’t trust your team, you have the wrong team!
After a delicious conference lunch and a cheeky pint across the road with some fellow devs, I headed back inside the Convention Centre for the last couple of talks. One of the things no one tells you as a junior developer is that as you become more senior, you write less code and have to explain your solutions to everybody in the organisation. Fortunately there are folks out there like Trent Jones who are willing to share their techniques in how best to explain yourself. In a short session, Trent unpacked an example architecture diagram for a fictional cannery, breaking it down into a simple yet detailed chart that anyone from engineers to product owners and stakeholders could understand. Combining the learnings from this talk with some of the drawing tips from Phil’s earlier talk could make for some excellent artefacts in my daily work.
That lunchtime pint was a mistake, feeling sleepy I headed back to the coffee cart for round 3, then into the main auditorium for the locknote. Chris Ferrie’s presentation was an energetic and entertaining explanation of the complex concept of Schrodinger’s cat and quantum physics, which in addition to the caffeine hit, perked me right up.
All that was left now was the prize draw, in which I didn’t win one of the amazing prizes on offer, a couple of beers and some pizza at the after-party. Once again I was blown away by the incredible experience of attending DDD Perth. For $60 the conference is on par or better than conferences that charge a lot more than that. For that you get loads of international and local speakers, way too much swag, coffee, lunch, snacks and drinks. No wonder it sells out so quickly. Thank you to everyone involved in making DDD happen, I’ll see you next year.