What I learnt from UpFront Conf 2019

March 22, 2019, 9:00am - 6:00pm

Written by Alice Bailey.

ECOM has been attending UpFront Conf for a couple of years now. For those who don’t know, UpFront is an annual event that takes place in the centre of Manchester. It’s here we have the opportunity to listen to presentations from industry experts, discussing trending topics and issues facing the tech community.

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Its ECOM’s second year at UpFront but my first. You’d have spotted me by the MarioKart stand. This isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it’s a great way to break the ice and start a conversation, which is what I’m there for.

It’s important for me to go to these events as the industry I recruit is constantly evolving. They enable me to gain more of an insight into the obstacles faced by people I speak to every day.

I wanted to talk about the speakers who personally made an impact. This included the ‘Future in Ethics’ by Cennydd Bowles.

Writer and designer, Cennydd discussed the implications of ethics in an ever-changing digital generation. He highlighted how we must be consciously thinking about how ethical our actions are. Even the smallest of products created have both positive and negative effects, intended or not.

“When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck… Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as the technical progress.” - Cennydd (Requote)

After listening to ECOMs own Neurodiversity meetup with Theo Smith, I was interested to hear what the rest of the community had to say, which was why I attended Rachel Morgan-Trimmer’s talk on ‘What accessibility really means – and how you can be truly accessible.’

Rachel’s talk was funny, insightful and left a lasting message; almost every improvement you make for a particular group helps everyone outside that group as well. I caught up with Rachel after UpFront to find out more about why businesses and products need to be more accessible.

“People think accessibility is something that is difficult and costs money. Or it constrains or takes away from what you’re trying to build. And that’s not really true. You’re building a better product for everybody. Consider things like something as simple as your font size, obviously, it helps people who are partially sighted. It also helps people who might be using a smaller screen, it’s all kinds of people in different situations.”

All in all the day was filled with compelling talks, good food and some good (and not so good) MarioKart playing. This great event is organised by the likes of Manchester Digital, Jack Sheppard, Dan Donald and Simon Owen.

See you next year!