Frontend Days 2023
In the GoodRequest frontend team, we have been trying to support individual and collective learning for a long time to keep up with the trends (not only) in the frontend world.
The content of technical conferences in Slovakia as well as abroad, which we have attended numerous times in recent years, has never truly impressed us. The topics are often too general, focused more on promoting specific companies than providing really useful information, and frequently just skimming the surface of the issues. There were also usually a large number of topics focused on completely different technologies or processes, resulting in a relatively low information value for us.
That's why last year we decided to organise the first edition of our internal educational conference - Frontend Days 2022. We concentrated on addressing the specific concerns of our team and delved into frontend updates that made the most sense for us. Check out last year´s Frontend Days 2022 in the upcoming photo!
As it happens with first attempts, we identified areas for improvement. The feedback form indicated that while the full-day external training was fine, a larger number of smaller presentations could bring more 'value for the money'. We agreed that we could drop the project showcases from the next edition and move them to our regular meetups. We also found that holding such an event in the middle of summer in an un-air-conditioned office wasn't exactly the best idea 🥵.
So we took advantage of the opening of our new flagship office in Žilina and inaugurated it with this next edition of Frontend Days 2023. The concept change was mainly about trying to get closer to a real conference with everything that goes with it - from a fixed schedule, branding and promos to dry-running and feedbacks on presentations.
During two days in October, we heard a total of 16 presentations on various topics, from web application security, through soft skill training, communication and effective time management, to a DevOps lecture on releasing or a lighting talk on smart-home automation.
The topics were diverse, and it was the interspersing of frontend topics with soft skill training or cross-platform lectures that proved to be the key to keeping the attention of all participants even on such a busy schedule.
Amongst the presentations that got the best ratings was the presentation on Efficient Time Management, where our Allocation Manager Tomas Kurat and Head of D&E Maros Novak, shared insights on how they organise their busy schedules, how a healthy lifestyle and a good night's sleep find our efficiency and how they found their sweet spot when it comes to work-life balance.
Tomáš and Maroš also introduced us to several methods for effective time management, such as "Pomodoro" or the "2 minutes rule". There was also a practical demonstration of how they manage their time and priorities in apps like Todoist or Cron, or how they use the advanced features of Slack to make sure they don't forget anything and can clear their minds of operational issues. Finally, they offered us a "buffet time-management" - a checklist of ideas that we can try over the next few weeks and evaluate which ones work best for us.
The presentation from our CEO, Tomáš Lodňan on practical tips for customer communication, was also a success. As part of the presentation, he also prepared a live demonstration, engaging in a role-play with our Jakub to highlight common mistakes to avoid in daily client communication. It was a really informative but also funny moment on Frontend Days.
Amongst the technical presentations from our frontend team, the highest-rated was Jakub Cvacho's presentation titled "Advanced SEO in Next.js." Jakub explained the functioning of web search engines in the background, explained the various aspects of SEO meta tags, and explained the entire ecosystem of Google's Tag Manager.
Jakub's mind map of various connections in the world of SEO may have looked daunting at first glance, but ultimately, his presentation brought the most "wow moments." That's why Jakub deservedly took the prize for the best presentation at Frontend Days, which was called "papečkovica" - homemade ginger cider, that our team prepared for the warm-up party before Frontend Days.
During breaks between presentations, we refreshed our minds with a frontend quiz competition, where the main prize for the winners was also our homemade frontend drink. If you plan to organise a similar event, definitely include such an activity to stimulate brain cells in the schedule.
We also used free time to gather data for the upcoming definition of the frontend team's vision and strategy for the coming years, seeking answers to the questions of why we actually do what we do and how we can do it even better.
Frontend days traditionally include a teambuilding part. This year we had fun with a laser game and an interactive climbing wall, and we enjoyed delicious burgers and pizza sandwiches together. The whole event was also accompanied by catering prepared with love by our office manager Lucia. So, definitely, no one could complain about the lack of experience and treats 😀.
Regarding feedback on the event, the major highlights mentioned were the quality of presentations, diversity of topics, and their processing. Suggestions for improvement mainly focused on better schedule adherence (as some presentations ran a bit over time) and increased involvement of remote participants in the event.
If I were to share one piece of advice on how to improve such an event, I would strongly recommend dry-running and getting feedback on each presentation before the event. Pre-validated presentations were better fit into the designated time slot and also received better ratings from colleagues.
For next year's edition, we would like to raise the level even higher and involve the broader public - either through a live stream or by inviting them to our office on Obchodná Street. We will inform you about the details next year before autumn 😉.
So, if you are considering attending a tech conference, try to think beforehand about whether there would be more added value for you and your team by organising an internal educational event. Our experiences speak clearly, and Frontend Days will be a regular part of the educational schedule at GoodRequest.