UX Cambridge 2015: day 1 take-aways

Keynote: Working beyond the brief

This year’s conference started with Anna Kirah and Meriel Lenfestey ‘s keynote Working beyond the brief.

There were 5 key points covered:

  • Answer the right brief
  • Success is not personal
  • Be brave, not rude
  • Be creative in your approach
  • Fight the right battles

We all carry ‘baggage’ so we should be gentle towards the people we’re working with as they’re fighting their own battles.

Don’t make assumptions.

Most UXers are not business trained and that makes it really hard to hold some boardroom conversations.

Discuss potential challenges before, during, and after a project.

Get the project team to know each other. Business stakeholders interviewing UX designers and vice versa, to understand their drives and needs. The result could be a card like the below:

By focusing on relationships and interactions early, you end up spending more time bringing up results.

The success of a project is all about building strong working relationships.

There are 3 types of hero:

  1. Takes an extra step to get things done
  2. Has an idea but is afraid to act on it
  3. Non-heros, people who don’t care

The ‘focus’, ‘feeling’, and ‘doing’ of sponsors and users:


Anna advocates a more humane approach to work, focused on building work relationships based on kindness.
Meriel encourages UX professionals to educate themselves with Business skills in order to improve communication.

Making stakeholders into sense-makers: a counselling approach to ethnography and service design

In this tutorial, Alisan Atvur and Katrine Rau demonstrated how to improve collaboration skills based on psychotherapy methods.

Participants were split into groups, each representing a known company (LinkedIn, Youtube, or Evernote) and asked to follow a given process in order to derive how those companies could develop a new product to address the needs of conference attendees.

The process included using some concepts of non-violent communication, such as awareness of people’s fears and sense of inadequacy.

The tutorial covered using tools to derive the outcomes of behaviours based on analising their attributions, and exploring psychological elements such as the ‘inferiority complex’ as laid out by Alfred Adler, in order to improve communication within organisation.

Read more about this session on Alisan’s blog.

Designing better forms

In this session Sjors Timmer gave a brief introduction to the basics of form design, from choosing its content, to the final design.

Key points:

Download Sjors’ presentation slides (PDF)

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