I have been given the opportunity to attend #UXLondon this week with 2 of my colleagues who are both senior and experienced UX Practitioners - @keeftango and @belaybunny.
This gives me a very timely opportunity to immerse myself in the world of UX, speak with other UX professionals who face the same challenges as us and listen to some of the industries best known speakers.
The conference consists of 1 day of talks followed by 2 days of practical workshops.
Today there were 6 keynote talks and 3 lightening talks covering various topics that are relevant right now.
I intend to write up a more detailed review of some of the talks but below is a simplistic summary of the talks, any key things that I took from them and my initial thoughts around how they fit in with my work.
BILL BUXTON - Microsoft Research - www.billbuxton.com
ON LONG NOSES, SAMPLING, SYNTHESIS, DESIGN & INNOVATION
Bill talked at length about the process of creativity and his belief that the idea of innovation coming from that ‘lightbulb moment’ is a myth and that in fact most ideas that are now £1bn pound businesses have evolved from ideas that are 20 years old.
Bill used a number of examples including the first generation iPod with the click wheel, which had taken a design lead from Dieter Rams T3 that was in circulation back in 1958.
My initial thoughts are that we shouldn’t be afraid to look back for inspiration whether it be a design pattern or a process and that there are good ideas from the past that may not have been a huge success originally but with some refinement they could be.
ANDERS RAMSAY - www.designingwithagile.com
Anders likened the approaches to UX projects as either being a relay race (where the UX Designer completes their work and hands over the baton to the developers until it is passed on and eventually crosses the finish line) or a rugby match (where the team members constantly work together to get the project over the line). I thought that this was a really clear metaphor to explain the differences between a Waterfall and an Agile approach. I’m sure I will be using this in the future.
The other thing that I really picked up on was where Anders explained a technique called ‘Ideation Clearing House’ where the project team and the client get together, the client explains their vision or problem and then hands over to the project team who then spend up to an hour getting down their ideas and sketches using a number of other techniques with the aim of ‘Capturing the imagined final product’.
This is something that I will definitely be pursuing more and looking to introduce very early on when engaging with a prospect or client on a new project. With some thought and good facilitation, this could go a long way to replacing the dry business development meetings where we constantly ask questions and then go away and write them up in a proposal back to the client hoping that we have understood their answers.
Not only would this allow both the client and us (the project team) to drive out a shared visual representation of what the product will eventually be (roughly) at the outset, but will also engage the client in a collaborative workshop at the very beginning where they will see an immediate benefit to involving the UX designers at the start of a project.
I am sure I will post about this in the very near future once I have considered it in more detail and spoken to some of my colleagues.
LUKE WROBLEWSKI - lukew.com
ORGANISING MOBILE WEB EXPERIENCES
Luke talked briefly about the ‘Mobile First’ approach and then about the reasons why people use mobile web. These included:
- Localised need
Mobile design should consider these when creating apps or mobile websites to ensure that the user can achieve what they want quickly - “they don’t want to be waiting while they wait”.
Showing a number of examples from Flickr to the old LinkedIn app, Luke talked about designing for content first and navigation second. The comparison of the old and new LinkedIn iPhone app really shows the huge change that they have gone through which now focuses and delivers the content first before then offering links through to more detailed content.
Another great example was the comparison of the Flickr mobile website and the Instagram iPhone app. Definitely worth a look as it becomes really clear when you see them side by side.
KRISTINA HALVORSON - Brain Traffic
A CONTENT STRATEGY ROADMAP
Kristina talked through what a Content Strategy looks like and ran through a practical example of how a Copywriter can become a Content Wrangler and should be an integral part of the project team from the beginning and not an afterthought.
Content Strategy is again something that I will post about in more detail once the week is over and I have attended one of the workshops on Content Strategy but my initial thought is that we need to have people with an in depth understanding that a Content Strategy is vital to deliver successful web projects, who will be engaging with clients from the start to ensure that the client also understands how much thought should go into the content, not just the look and feel - after all, users visit websites to consume content, not look at the pretty colours.
MOBILE & UX: INSIDE THE EYE OF THE PERFECT STORM
Jared started by showing a number of poorly executed mobile experiences - this was in relation to Sturgeons Law that 90% of everything is crap - we have the choice to be part of the 10% that is not crap.
He then talked about how we should be designing for experiences and not features - typically ideas and designs evolve from the introduction of the technology, to the abundance of features that are possible through to the experience of the users. We should be starting to design for the experience.
Jared then went onto talk about the Kano Model that I will post about in more detail later.
To finish, Jared went through a whole list of responsibilities and processes that fall under ‘Experience Design’ concluding that as this list grows, the number of UX Designers on projects is getting smaller - this is a balance that needs to shift if we are truly going to deliver a project or product that is designed for the experience and not just the features.
Each of the talks covered a real life experience and lessons learned. I will cover these in more detail later.
JON KOLKO - www.jonkolko.com
THE NEXT STEP FOR DESIGN: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP
The final talk of the day was a great way to conclude day 1. Jon talked in depth about how UX Designers should really consider what they are designing and building.
Jon gave a couple of great examples of projects that he has been involved in where his students have looked at real life issues such as the homeless and starting with the simple process of talking to them face to face, they have been able to launch two social driven projects that are actually helping people to improve their quality of life. I will also write up the specifics of these examples as they are truly inspiring.
That’s Day 1 - Let’s see what Day 2 brings.