CodeFest draws 500 for a better web

The ever-growing concept of co-working is alive and well in the land of the Internet, as was clearly shown at the recent CodeFest 2014 at Carleton University.

With the tagline “Together for a better web,” the two-day event attracted 500 people who listened to guest speakers and took part in participant-led sessions on a wide range of Internet-related topics.

Event spokesperson Laura Wesley said the organizers, all volunteers from both the public and private sector, tried to get speakers with a wide range of specialities within the web world.

“The main impetus for it came out of our recognition that when people work with people who are different from them, the outcomes are a lot better,” she said.

Ms. Wesley said while the organizing committee members may come from different sectors, they have all worked on the Web Experience Toolkit, open source software run by the Treasury Board Secretariat to provide tools – available to everyone inside and outside the public service – to build and maintain accessible and user-friendly websites.

Not surprisingly, many of the participants were government workers, but Ms. Wesley said other industries were also well represented.

“We get a lot of private sector consultants and web developers and people who work in marketing, social media, communications – they all come out to find out what’s going on,” she said.

Lisa Fast, a partner with user experience research firm Neo Insight, was one of the presenters, speaking on how the design of our brain often works against what web developers are trying to achieve.

She said the Web Experience Toolkit is a “terrific thing for Canadian citizens” because it gets designers working together instead of all working on separate solutions.

“I love that it’s open source and cities and other people can use it,” said Ms. Fast.

While she was there as a presenter, Ms. Fast said she also took away a lot from the event, such as learning about all the background work that goes into designing a website, in hopes it creates the kind of experience the user ultimately wants.

“The user experience is the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

Ms. Fast said more and more businesses are using open source software to move themselves forward, and everyone else at the same time.

“The rising tide floats all boats, so to speak.”