"Clients don't appreciate the finer technical details of your quality. It's quite crushing.": May's Digital Croydon

May, 25th 2016Simon Tomes

May's Digital Croydon saw the technologists of Croydon Tech City gather at Sussex Innovation Centre. I was there to listen to the three fascinating talks, I'll try to give you a glimpse of some of the great content I heard.

Jay George, Web Designer and co-founder of BrewPixel.com

First up Jay George shared his experience in the dating world and how it helped him build better relationships with his clients.

"Written communication is often very task based. This removes the friendly chit-chat." — Jay George

Jay shared a great tip for starting a relationship:

It sounds like extra effort but the phone call saves time – something Jay learnt the hard way. He was on the receiving end of a negative email, something he re-read over and over again. This led to confirmation bias and the desire to pick up the phone.

There are further complexities in client relationships, and it's better for both of you if you know when to let go: “Do not chase clients. If someone doesn't want to converse with you then the relationship is over.”

Jay concluded that it doesn't matter if the context is dating or business – relationships matter more than ever.

"Clients don't appreciate the finer technical details of your quality. It's quite crushing. They value your relationship more. The video calls worked best. They get to know us and we get to know them." — Jay George

Michele Bertoli, Front End Developer at YPlan

“You have to have the right mindset to write CSS in JavaScript” — Michele Bertoli.

There's a clear frustration implementing CSS at scale, with such challenges as:

Michele recommended three solutions:

Atomic CSS is quite exciting, the team at YPlan used it in the portal that helps partners create events. They track their CSS file size and are pleased to report it's not growing.

Dave Rogers, Head of Architecture & Security at MOJ Digital & Technology

The final speaker of the night was Dave Rogers: “This is the most complex system I’ve ever worked on”.

Dave took us through the complexities of designing microservices that span boundaries within government.

Government agencies take a complex problem and give it to an external tech company. Customising "off-the-shelf" software leaves them hamstrung.

"[It's like] painting the walls in a flat that you’re renting off your landlord until they boot you out" — Helen Mott, Dave's colleague, on off-the-shelf software

There was a stunned silence, myself included, when we learnt that the UK criminal justice system likely uses 1,000 to 10,000 microservices! Dave's team has concentrated on simplifying the design and architecture of their systems.

Using Sam Newman's Principles of Microservices, he explained they're mostly reads, mostly observational and non transactional. There are clear boundaries and they use distributed data storage.

Microservice design thinking helped Dave's team shift the structure of the government.

"An organisation will inevitably produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organisation's communication structure." — Conway's Law

Dave shared a wonderful insight learned from a visitor booking system for prisons: if visitor rates go up, re-offending rates go down! They targeted existing complexities to improve visitor rates. They ignored the monolith and created a simple booking system. The simple system is now suffocating the monolith.

Get involved

Would you like to attend the next Digital Croydon event? Are you excited to learn from the tech community in Croydon? Head over to the Digital Croydon event page to sign up!

Over to you

Were you at this event? What did you learn? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.