Matthew O'Riordan speaking at DevRelCon London 2018

7 + 8



Matthew O'Riordan

CEO | Ably

Matthew O'Riordan

Matthew O’Riordan is the technical co-founder of Ably, a globally distributed data stream network that is protocol agnostic.

He has been a programmer for over 20 years. He first started working on commercial internet projects in the mid 90s, when Internet Explorer 3 and Netscape were battling it out, and Java and Flash were the up and coming technologies to bring interactivity to browsers.

Throughout his time as a developer, he has not only been contributing to complex technical aspects of various projects, but also the commercial, UX and design aspects. He has also built and sold two tech business along the way, the last one being Econsultancy.

At Ably, as a developer himself, his focus is not just on the best technical solution, but more often on the experience developers have of with their APIs. Developer relations for Ably is necessarily at the heart of everything they do, given our customers are all developers.


Applying visual design principles to API design

API design is a relatively new discipline, and one could easily fall into the trap of believing there is little experience to draw on, and we are now largely in an unchartered territory. Whilst this is true to some degree, it’s a mistake not to take inspiration from other industries that share common problems. In the last 100 years, graphic designers have learnt through research, trial and error, how to visually communicate messages and content.

Whilst how to apply UX to DX has been covered many times, the visual design process, which typically starts once UX is completed, is rarely talked about. Yet design, following the UX process, is an essential activity that helps communicate the content more effectively and make interfaces more intuitive and approachable.

For example, a car goes through the equivalent of a UX design process to define the function of the car. The form however, is defined as part of the visual design process and is arguably the most important aspect of what creates a lasting impression for buyers. Skipping the visual design phase in our APIs may still result in functional APIs, but in a form that is not pleasing to developers who use them.

In this talk, we will explore common visual design principles and how they apply to API design. By the end of the talk, you will have a basic understanding of popular visual design principles, and be able to incorporate these principles into your DevRel handbooks or API style guides. Specifically, what you will learn is how to create a positive lasting impression for developers who use your APIs.


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