Voxxed Days Ticino is a conference born in 2015 organized by the local software dev community.
Every year 300 people meet in the beautiful Lugano to hear about the latest trends in software development from renowned speakers coming from all over the world, and to share their knowledge with other members of the community.
This year, due to the pandemic, the conference took place online with a different format: the steering team decided to organize a series of high-value workshops, delivered using Swicket’s platform.
Today we expand our column about event organisers’ experience with Anastasia Gautschi and Katharine Beaumont, part of VDT’s steering team.
1) Welcome to our column! Can you tell us more about VDT and the Voxxed Days network in general?
Anastasia: I feel like Voxxed Days are special times of the year for developers. They meet some of the world’s biggest rock stars in the sector, learn something new on topics of their own choosing, enjoy a coffee, (or a beer after the conferences) and get to chat with 300 more people that know of the joys (& struggles!) of coding.
VDT is so much more than just a conference: they are valuable opportunities for people to meet, network, exchange new contacts, have new conversations which lead to new ideas and new work opportunities.
Voxxed Days Ticino is exceptionally special for Ticino developers because the event is just around the corner and helps avoid having to organize a trip to some other country to attend a high-quality conference. As a conference organizer I feel really blessed to contribute to bringing this precious reality to Ticino developers.
Katharine: One thing that struck me the first time I attended a VDT conference is how genuinely friendly and welcoming the event is. There is almost a holiday vibe – with high quality content, of course! The best way to describe it is probably relaxed during the breaks, and focused during the talks or workshops. I always jump at the chance to stay involved.
Generally the Voxxed Days conferences have a good mix of global expertise with local flavours. Each event is unique to the locale and organisers. VDT is unashamedly my favourite.
2) VDT 2020 has been the first online “Voxxed Day” ever. How organizing an online event is different from organizing an in-person conference?
Anastasia: Given the uncertainties faced due to the pandemic, we were forced to get creative quickly if we wanted to bring the same quality and added value to developers, and all though organizing an online event was much simpler from an organizational point of view, (no hotel reservations, no travelling related issues, not as much logistics involved) you still have some degree of uncertainty and unpredictability when something is brand new. Luckily enough our workshops were very well received. More about that later on.
Katharine: I really admire the way the core VDT organisers, including Anastasia, rethought the format for this year and adapted to the situation. It’s totally different online, but that means it has different advantages, as Anastasia touched on.
3) How did Swicket help you facing these new challenges?
Anastasia: From an organizational aspect working with Swicket for our Voxxed Days Workshops was great and simplified my job so much.
The swicket platform allowed us to:
- collect participants and their details
- settle payments,
- inform participants on some last helpful information pre-workshop,
- Incorporate the whole worksop through a “virtual classroom tool”
- Allow us to collect feedback post workshop
We were fully aware of the fact that we would have not been able to give that “full immersion” feeling developers get when they attend a Voxxed Days Ticino conference.
However, given the situation, the open source classroom tool with Alf.io helped us make the best out of the scenario.
The experiment was very successful, and it allowed the closest possible interaction between participants and teachers, favoring a “hands on” mode.
We had more than 150 participants, 4 sold out workshops out of 7 of which one so requested we had to re-propose it.
Katharine: From my point of view as an attendee, it was seamless. I followed the link, I was in the workshop, and had exactly the kind of experience I’d expect from a mature platform. As Sierra* says, a good product is good because the user feels good and clever about what they can do with. I felt clever.
*Kathy Sierra, “Badass: Making Users Awesome”.
4) There’s a lot of uncertainty about 2021 among event organizers. What’s your take on this? Are you planning to keep this year’s format or go back to an in-person conference? Or maybe mix them?
Anastasia: Time and cantonal regulations will tell us which direction to take for our next edition.
This years’ experiment has been very useful to us in understanding the dynamics of the organization of online workshops and has helped us be ready for an online, in person or mixed edition.
Katharine: I think it’s too early to say, but as Anastasia says, this year was a great experiment. If we can’t go back to in-person, we can still bring people great quality content from great speakers
Swicket works side by side with the event organizers to whom it provides its services, in order to develop solutions that best fit their needs. Their input is central to our work, and thanks to our exchange of views we have been able to add online event management capabilities to our offering.
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