A designer's take on attending a Drupal event

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Our UX designer Stephen Dudley attended the North West Drupal User Group Unconference last month. Drupal events always welcome non-developers, but is there a benefit to attending? We asked Steve for his thoughts on the experience and which session that he gained most from.

Unconf didn’t let me down.

I attended Unconf with an open mind, and cosy non-developer skilled hat. With an exposure to but no direct experience of Drupal, I arrived excited and hopeful of gaining a deeper understanding of the technology and areas I can begin to involve myself in.

I was immediately impressed by the range and diversity of talks on offer, not only did we cover meaty and entry-level topics, but was surprised by (and secretly delighted) to see a divergence from Drupal development topics to those covering the broader nature of our industry; encompassing subjects of project management, support, user experience, along with a sprinkling of tech agnostic talks too. Unconf had my attention, a great selection of delegates possessing skill sets with or without Drupal.

The second talk of the day provided us with a format all too uncommon at conferences, a panel of agency founders and managers talking us through how to run a Drupal business, or perhaps more so, how not to!

The panel was inviting, open, relaxed and informal, which made us all feel at ease and comfortable sharing our stories with each other. We ran with the general theme of “things you wished you’d known earlier in business”, cunningly the broadness of this allowed us to discuss a brand range of topics such as top tips (to do and to avoid), drivers, values, pitfalls, mistakes, failures, celebrating successes, lessons learnt, community, working with peers, sharing, giving-back, agency life. Yes, it was broad, I could go on but you get the idea…

The Panel

Truthfully, I didn’t leave this session feeling as though I’d learned anything new (yep I’ve been around a bit too) but found the experience refreshing and reassuring that none of us are alone. Be it agency, contractor or client, we come in all shapes and sizes, but we’re not all unique, we share the same experiences with our individuality coming through in how we use them to learn and grow.

I left encouraged and revitalised about our industry and delighted to be reminded of some basic core values that are too easily forget in our day-to-day lives. Being open and honest with one another, sharing ideas, difficulties, and successes which in-turn enables us not only to grow on a personal or business level but equips us with shinier tools and sharpened knowledge to a) help our clients and b) improve the quality of the products we create.

So thank you Finn, Leo, Paul and Louise, great job!

Finn Lewis (@finnlewis) Technical Director at Agile Collective Ltd
Leo White (@leowhite) Digital agency and tech business founder
Paul Johnson (@pdjohnson) Company Director at CTI Digital
Louise Howells (@supertastycake) Head of Delivery at Access