Post Squares Conf 2016

So, I never made the opportunity to stop and reflect from last year’s Square’s Conference (2016) so now that there is this rad freaking video, let’s make it happen.

Dev conferences are always awesome and yet very awkward at the same time. I mean, stick a bunch of nerds in a room and let them bring their laptops…of course it’s going to be weird and silent after jokes, people are half listening…or….OR…they are over analyzing the data of the joke and just can’t comprehend some weird math problem that they created from it. I love it though, it’s great to be in a culture that promotes creativity and growth like Squares does for our industry.

During this conference I wanted to do something new and fresh that people don’t really take the time out to talk about which is the “whole developer”. Of course, my talk really wasn’t just for developers but rather everyone from designers to account leads. What’s more, this seemed to be the whole theme of most all the talks from everyone else (so cool to have the same theme without knowing before-hand) which can be slimmed down to one line:

Don’t be a jerk.

I started out talking about another thing that seems to get skipped but in hindsight being something that I wish I knew back in the day — how to transition from a designer to a front-end dev smoothly. Along with this I talked about how if we are not careful, it’s easy for dev teams to separate fully from the design team instead of working together for the benefit of the product. One side thinks the other is more important and thus the rift begins — I’ve seen it everywhere and been victim to it myself unfortunately.

I want to focus now on one point that I’m really passionate about that affects everyone and the products of this industry:

You’re limitations are dependent on your understanding.

You are what you believe. Does it sound cheesy? Absolutely. Does it sound like some lame thing from a fortune cookie? Possibly (no, I got it from my heart — not a fortune cookie. LOL). But, you know what? Stop and think about what it truly means?

I’ve seen too many friends & family in and outside this industry that set out to do something and set an easy bar which they know they can/could accomplish. They limit(ed) themselves and from that point they get mediocre results.

“Well, that’s great and all but why does it matter to everyone?” — Because you silly sud, as soon as we (designers, developers, accounts leads, startups) start setting mediocre standards, we build mediocre products and the bar of the industry starts to drop. We have the power to guide users a little bit and they don’t know if something is bad or good — they just know it’s “fun and awesome to use” or “it sucks”…but in the end, they can’t do anything about it, only we can.

Casey Baggz at Squares Conference 2016, photo by Cory Hale

That’s why I care so much about this statement and how it affects everyone of us and this industry. It drives me insane when I see or hear about a product that I know could have been done better. My heart breaks because I can feel the negative affect it produces on our industry. Likewise, I rejoice when we have great products that are produced and continue to push the web/industry forward (git rules, React Native rules, slack freaking rules).

So let’s makes make a promise to each other and hold our teams accountable to building amazing things for our industry and the people that use its products. No one sets out to build bad things — but sometimes people don’t have the right guidance and help to know if something is bad or not-we need each other.

So let’s do this, don’t be a jerk, set your goals high and hold your team members accountable to continually building amazing apps that will change the industry and our world.