CT-SPIN #66: Breaking down silos: Lessons in building better software through collaboration

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Why do we so often see web applications that are visually displeasing, and more importantly, usability nightmares? Why do designers often get stuck being asked to “make the design pop a little more,” with no room or incentive to innovate? Why do some developers feel demotivated and unable to break out of doing things the way they’ve always been done?

Snack kindly sponsored by Twenty57.

Wednesday, 13th April 2011, 18h15
Events Room, 5th floor, Bandwidth Barn
Cape Town


Anyone is free to attend. Please RSVP by sending YES or MAYBE via our contact form.


Events Room, 5th floor, Bandwidth Barn
125 Buitengracht Street
Cape Town
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18:15 Welcoming and Introduction
Herman Lintvelt
18:20 Breaking down silos
Rian van der Merwe
19:20 Closing and Thanks
Herman Lintvelt
19:25 Networking & Discussion


In this talk Rian explores some of the main causes of ineffective software development, and discuss practical recommendations on how to improve team structures and development processes to build high quality software that users care about and want to use.

Speaker Profile

Rian van der Merwe

Rian van der Merwe is a Product Management and User Experience Strategy professional, and currently the head of Product Management & Design at South African online retailer kalahari.net. 

After completing degrees in Engineering and Information Science in South Africa, he moved to Australia to complete a Ph.D in Internet Marketing.  From there he moved to California to pursue a girl (yep, they eventually got married). Rian spent the next 6 years working in Silicon Valley: first at market research firm Survey.com, followed by 4 ½ years in eBay’s User Experience Design group.  His last position at eBay was as Senior Manager of Product Strategy, where his responsibilities included leading a team of strategists who worked with various parts of the organisation to develop and implement product roadmaps and requirements that meet user needs. 

He then joined South African startup Yola.com in San Francisco as a Senior Product Manager, where he was responsible for the product vision, strategy, design, and development of a variety of areas of the Yola user experience.  In March 2010, Rian and his family moved back to South Africa permanently where he established and grew the Product and User Experience teams at Yola’s Cape Town office. He moved on to head up kalahari.net’s renewed focus on user experience in December 2010.

He is passionate about user experience design and software product development, and excited about the great opportunities ahead in the South African Internet space. He blogs and tweets regularly about these and other topics.