Kathryn Grayson Nanz is a Developer Advocate for Progress Software. Her session at WITS Spring 2022 Virtual Summit is “Learn Enough Design to be Dangerous”.
Why is speaking at WITS important to you? Speaking at WITS is something I’m really excited about because I think it’s so important to celebrate women in tech. So often, when we’re talking about women in tech, we’re talking about the problems that women deal with in the tech industry — and while those are so important to discuss, I think it’s a shame to exclusively focus on that. WITS offers a platform to highlight the accomplishments and expertise of women; it’s a joyful celebration of women in this industry and their knowledge, and that’s something I’m so thrilled to be able to participate in.
What or who inspires you? I’m especially inspired by beginners in tech. This can be a field that’s not especially welcoming to newcomers. No matter your specialty, there’s so much to learn and everything changes so quickly! And yet, I see so many new learners joining the industry every day — their excitement and optimism inspires me and reminds me of the things I love about this work. Fresh eyes and new ideas bring so much, and I can’t wait to see how they change the future of tech.
Most useful article you’ve read in the last month This isn’t technically an article, but the most useful and interesting thing I’ve read recently is the State of JS survey results. I love the insights into the industry, and I always use the results as a way to kind of check on what’s up-and-coming. Are there new tools I should be keeping my eye on? New features I haven’t heard of yet that I could be making better use of? It’s like a checkpoint where I can stop and make a quick assessment of what’s happening in the larger ecosystem and where I fit. It’s not without bias (a survey like this is strongly shaped by where it gets shared, and who is highly motivated to complete it, leading to disproportionate representation of some groups of people), but I still find it interesting and thought-provoking.
When you were a kid what was your dream job? I always wanted to be an artist! When I was a kid, my parents would make fake museum description cards for my drawings — things like “Sun with Flowers, 1996. Colored wax sticks on construction paper.” In the interests of practicality, I funneled that love for art into graphic design (which I got my degree in)…which eventually turned into web and UI design, and then web and software development. So, as it turns out, I wouldn’t be here today without that childhood dream!
Tell us something about your session I hear lots of people say “Oh, I could never be a designer; I just don’t have the eye” — and I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true. Design is a skill that can be learned, just like anything else, and all of us make design decisions every single day! A designer’s full responsibilities are complex and multifaceted; this talk won’t teach you everything you need to know to go get a design job tomorrow. However, it WILL go over design basics in a straightforward way, for non-designers who want to create designs that don’t look terrible.
What other sessions or speakers are you most excited to see? I’m really looking forward to Kate Gatto’s workshop “Neurodivergent User Experience Design Practicum”. Accessibility is such a crucial part of UI design, and this deep dive into neurodiversity, specifically, is something I’m really excited to see.