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Thanks for an awesome phpDay in Verona!

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 19 May 2011.
Planet PHP

Last week I had the opportunity to talk about User Centered Design and Agile at the annual Italian phpDay that was held in Verona (more on my talk further down). It was my third time at the conference and it was a pleasure to see how much it had grown. It is organised by the GRUSP, the Italian PHP user group that is at the heart of a growing, dedicated and passionate PHP community. Many of the attending developers are part of small companies and most of them had to go through quite a rough patch in the previous years, facing a grim crisis and stagnant economy. So I was very curious to catch up and very happy to see that the situation seems to be getting better, slowly but still. Not only has unemployment started to drop, but revenues are slowly recuperating. Most important though is the development of the perception of PHP as a means of development: While two years back Italian companies would still put a very sticky "script-kiddie" label on PHP-developers, things are turning to the better. Definitely also in part an achievement of all the networking efforts of the GRUSP.

This years edition of the phpDay felt definitely very international, with a lot of top notch speakers from all over the world. Plus a whole delegation of Liipers, yay! The organisers did a good job in mixing speakers: some international and some local, some known and some new.
One very cool addition was, that the phpDay was part of a double conference together with the jsDay, dedicated, surprise surprise, to javascript. JsDay had started a day before phpDay and would overlap for one day. In the past few years the phpDay always featured talks on javascript, and the interest of the frontend community had grown so big that it totally made sense to have a separate mini-conference that people could choose to attend solely. When I heard about the split I was a bit afraid that the segregation would do more harm than good, but actually what happened was the opposite: no segregation, instead the day with overlapping conferences really brought together a cool mix of people.

As always at conferences speakers get the extra treatment, which in the case of phpDay means a great speakers dinner with awesome food and fun people. A blast!

From left to right: Kore Nordmann, Thijs Feryn, David Zuelke, Juozas Kaziukenas, Eric Kort, Helgi Thorbjoernsson, Christian Schaefer


UCD & AGILE: The long and winding road of change

The topic of the talk I gave this year has been keeping me going for quite some time now: How can we integrate User Centered Design best practices with Agile Development? While three months ago I had the impression to know it all, four weeks ago I was a mess. Nothing I tried had really worked, all the concepts we had figured out looked good on paper but not in practice and most of all: the impression to miss out on some detail that would help in letting fall the tiny pieces of our ideas into place. At that time I went to another conference, UX London, and was lucky enough to attend a workshop on UX Leadership held by Kim Goodwin. To my surprise she spoke about change management and what it takes to bring a new way of thinking and working into a company: involvement - on all levels an with all means possible.
I left UX London in a state of shock. But I was also immensely inspired and immediately started a completely different strategy of involving developers and product owners with us UX people and thus getting back into the loops of the projects - with amazing results.

This talk describes what I think are the fundamental elements that shape a successful integration of UCD and Agile.


The talk was extraordinarily well received
, it was an honor to give it and i am absolutely blown away by the awesome feedback I got. Thanks for attending!