UX Cambridge 2014: day 1

On this post:

  • The sessions
  • The tweets
  • Other blog posts


The sessions

A downside of every conference is clashing sessions. At least until someone invents time travel.

I will report below on the sessions I have attended, but will include tweets and blog posts including information on other sessions.

Moving beyond professional silos when defining UX – Eric Reiss

The conference started with Eric Reiss’s keynote, where he focused on how UX professionals communicate with Business stakeholders.

Eric started by describing the gap between Sciences and Humanities, giving the specific example of Cambridge. Cambridge University has offered the world more Nobel Prize winners than any other institution, but of the 89 prizes won, only 4 relate to Humanities (2 in Literature and 2 in Peace), whilst all the others were in Sciences.

Eric believes that the role of UX in Business is to bridge these two disciplines (check slide 5 below): Science and Humanities, and in doing so, making businesses rich!

UX design exists, but are we truly UX designers?

UX encompasses the interaction between devices and events, not only between people and devices. Therefore, the user experience doesn’t happen only on a screen; it starts from the first interaction and all oncoming experiences, until it reaches the user.

That is why designing UX involves many disciplines, from servers configuration, to business analysis, to web design, and no one person can design the full experience from end to end (unless you’re a unicorn!).

So, how do we get business to hear what we, UX professionals, have to say? Here’s some advice:

  • don’t speak geek
  • don’t attack other disciplines
  • solve problems, don’t create them

In sum, all disciplines are important when it comes to designing the users’ experience.

Designing with people with little or no sight – Nikiforos Karamanis

In his session, Niki talked about the work he has done with Camsight and the Microsoft Research Group, working with visually impaired people, namely with the Cambridge Dons.
People with disabilities want to be seen and treated as everyone else, so it is important to design interfaces in a way that include them, as opposed to set them apart.
Making small improvements in the way we do and design things in order to accommodate for the needs of people with disabilities, improves life for everyone.

“Seamless” is a shallow metric for UX success – Simon Bostock

Nowadays users get less and less patient when it comes to completing transactions, so everyone loves a seamless (or ‘zipless’) experience. For example:

  • Oyster card
  • Amazon 1-click
  • Tripit

Simon introduced the concept of hyperobjects: “objects that are so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend spatiotemporal specificity, such as global warming, styrofoam, and radioactive plutonium”.
Digital services are like hyperobjects. Users have very little idea of how much data they share through their mobile devices, credit cards, etc.
By using these products and designs, we are consenting to their T&Cs, but how can we consent to something we don’t fully understand?

A framework for disruptive innovation – Paul-Jervis Heath

In his usual passionate tone, Paul-Jervis delivered a workshop on how to develop creative ideas for products and services, by disrupting the status quo.
When a new successful service or product is introduced in the market, it is received with excitement by the users, but as time passes, the excitement criteria turns into performance indicators, and as competitors start adopting the same approach, it just becomes a basic feature.
So, how to keep introducing new excitement into out services and / or products?
Common research techniques include focus groups and user testing. Focus groups are opinion-based research, not design research. User testing is not designed to uncover new needs (rather to validate them). Actually, the worse time to uncover new user needs would be during user testing.
The best way to uncover new user needs is to watch people in their own environment, doing what they normally do.
Design research is about questioning things, analysing things that are different or ‘weird’.

Making more senses of UX – Alastair Somerville

I didn’t attend this workshop, but here are the slides.

The tweets

Other blog posts

Jonathan Roberts – http://blog.touchdeluxe.com/ux-cambridge-2014-day-1-in-review

Nikiforos Karamanis – http://technorasis.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/empower-via-design/

Irene Melo – See all my blogs about UX Cambridge 2014

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