On April 25th, Gavin van Lelyveld and Greg Benner gave talks about communication and optimisation for the 3rd Cape Town Front-End Developers meetup. Gavin's slides are up on Speakerdeck, and Greg's are up on Slideshare. Below are my brief notes from their presentations. Both talks were interesting, and it was great to have talks about two very different areas of how we work. Our next meetup is Rian van der Merwe of Flow talking about Responsive Web Design in Africa.
"But that's not what you asked for!" by Gavin van Lelyveld
Gavin's talk was about the communication between developers and users: where some problems are, and how we can improve things. He encouraged us to think of users not just as the people using the sites that we create, but also our team, our bosses, and ourselves. He suggested we ask questions, without judgement, because any problems they have become our problems.
Gavin talked about openness and humility, and about making the customer part of the team. He discussed being present, mindful, and talking the time to observe and discuss problems. He recommends favouring high bandwidth communication, with face to face being the best.
He summarised by recommending that we: listen more than we talk, be compassionate, and pay attention.
Web Optimisation by Gregory Benner
Greg's talk was a whirlwind tour of optimisation: the whys and hows. He singled out images as the biggest target for optimisation.
He talked about why optimisation is important: statistics show that if your site isn't fast, people will leave it. Optimisation will also offer SEO benefits, and will save you time and money. The biggest concern, especially for mobile, is latency. Greg covered a number of tools that can be used: Google PageSpeed, Yahoo YSlow, Pingdom's Web Site Speed Test, and the Web Inspector in the Chrome browser. He covered css sprites, using data URLs for images, and tools such as smush.it for compressing images.
He recommend becoming familiar with command line tools, such as grunt. He said that although they can be scary at first, they offer a lot of power. Greg said he's a fan of the Yeoman set of tools and frameworks. He also recommends CodeKit (Mac only).