Shipshape and (DrupalCamp) Bristol fashion

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Keith Jay

It’s the second year running Five Mile have attended DrupalCamp Bristol, and 2016's weekender didn’t disappoint!

The format was the usual Camp offering, which took place in three great venues. The business day on Friday July 22 kicked off proceedings at the Colston Hall. On Saturday July 23 it was the turn of the conference day which took place at University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry. And finally on Sunday July 24, the obligatory sprints were held at the offices of digital agency, Torchbox.

Stand out sessions and themes

Conference day Keynote

Open Source Evangelist at Acquia, Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire and Chris Jansen, HBO Developer at Nedbase, delivered a fantastic keynote entitled “Challenges and solutions in getting your open source contribution.”

The keynote highlighted the (seemingly) age-old struggle of getting company developers to incorporate contribution into their working day. Based on an extensive academic study Chris carried out in 2015, the duo delivered a refreshing approach with practical, actionable ideas as well as underlining fact that contribution greatly benefits Drupal and the teams involved.

For example, a simple suggestion was instead of repeatedly creating code for projects, why don't we share it with others with the potential to see that code being a part of the Drupal project? Or, as I said in my tweet "How often do you create code that could be shared for the benefit of all?"

DrupalCamp Bristol 2016 tweet

Why are we doing this?

I noticed a recurring theme for a number of the sessions was around where the preparation and design for a project should start. In other words, when approaching a project, we should start with ‘why are we doing this’, followed by 'how' and then get to the ‘what’. 

To get a better handle on the foundations, advise you check out Simon Seniks 'Why, Where, How' TED talk. Then start to ask 'why?'.

Project management toolbox

An enjoyable session run by Ashley Johnson, project manager at Access, focused on project management tools and processes he uses to deliver projects on time and on budget, while keeping the client happy. A very engaging talk, it had plenty of audience participation, chipping in with their own experiences.

This led to an interesting post-session conversation on Jira (recommended in the session): While it's brilliant for big projects and complex team requirements, it's complexity, flexibility and generic UI has proven to be a bit of a turn off for us as a smaller creative team. We love using agile project management tools but also love simplification if we can work it that way!

In terms of our own project management tool tip, we vote for Pivotal Tracker as our tool of choice.

Some helpful apps/websites recommended in the session:

Lewis Nyman

Lewis is a UX designer. In his session "Super Collaborative Design Processes for Teams", he explored how can we improve our design process to include insights and experience from all members of the team. He also touched on how can we lead projects through design and encourage collaboration for better feedback... and ultimately happier clients.

The collaborative process - recommended steps:

  1. Get every stakeholder into a room. (This, Lewis stressed, was essential.)
  2. Extract everything you can and get this written down in the workshop for all to digest: "Understand, define, diverge, process"
  3. Get all opinions out in the open asap
  4. Produce rapid wireframes with everyone in the room to start getting a consensus

A great session, it ignited a really helpful discussion that dug deeper into some of the issues associated with collaboration such as how do you deal with missing stakeholders? A potential solution that came up was if you absolutely cannot get them there for the full session, take a soft approach for problem stakeholders and request they attend first hour of session. In other words, find a compromise. 

We’ve started running specialised 'requirements and strategy' workshops for our customers in the last year. But even before this session at Bristol, we noticed it was necessary to present some layer of journey, wireframing and prototyping whilst in the same room as the client. 

So that's my mini round up from DrupalCamp Bristol. See you back in the land of scrumpy in 2017!

About Keith Jay

Keith is owner and Managing Director of Five Mile. He specialises in business strategy as well as creative design, content strategy and user experience. He's a developer and has been a web designer since 2000.