UXPeople one-day event – write-up

UX People event logoOn March 22nd, I headed down to London for a one-day event (no, nothing to do with show-jumping) called UX People, and that event had the goal of “showcasing Britain’s talent”.

The day consisted of of four talks in the morning, followed by a choice of 2 out of 4 workshops in the afternoon. It was quite a small event (maybe 200 people) held at the rather snazzy Kings Place building, home to the Guardian and the Observer, amongst others.

No “free” lunch, no goodie bag and no “super-star” speakers meant that the cost was a rather amazing £125. All-in-all, very good value.

Overall impression

I really liked it, and I’d go to another of these events. The size of it seemed to make all the difference. I have been to @media in the past, which was good, but there you were one of many in the audience, and of course, it costs about four times as much.

Talks

The talks were OK, but I didn’t write much down, which suggests that I didn’t get that much out of them. Perhaps the most interesting idea I took away was from Robert Fein’s talk, “Communication is the key to effective user experience“. He made a number of good points, but I really liked the notion that all of the outputs of our work (reports, graphs, presentations, etc) during a project should be created with the user experience in mind. As he quoted, “Physician, heal thyself“.

Workshop 1: Wicked Workshops

There were two workshops running simultaneously, and I chose one on how to run Wicked Workshops to start with.

Running workshops, brainstorming sessions and focus group meetings are all important in the UX design toolbox, but they are sometimes tricky things (how to engage people; crytallising ideas; prioritising requirements, etc), so I was keen to get some ideas from design agency people about how they manage workshops with their clients.

I did get a lot out of this one, although it clearly could have benefited from more time, as it was a bit compressed towards the end. Jason Mesut and Michael McIntyre (no, not that one) from communications agency The Team presented this as a workshop (of course), with worked examples of the concepts and techniques that we were learning about.

We did some ice-breaker stuff (which I actually found more awkward that just introducing myself!), in which I found out the Richard Rutter (one of the attendees) collected bookmarks as a child. Nice one.

So… concrete stuff I learned:

Six Thinking Hats technique  –  a clever way to categorise comments and thoughts

Paired Comparison Analysis technique  –  how to prioritise things that seem to have equal priority. This vs that.

Pugh Decision Matrix method (and this explanation too)  –  how to select one option (e.g. a design) over another, when set against your list of priorities

Wokshop 2: Storytelling

This was a good one for people unfamiliar with this way of approaching design projects, I think, but maybe it was a bit lightweight for others. I enjoyed it, though, and the presenter, Jason Buck, did a great job of keeping people engaged.

The basic idea is that we can use narrative to explain the user flow (i.e. someone’s “story”) as they interact with a system such as a website or application whilst we are designing the user experience.

In teams, we came up with novel ways to use storytelling to introduce someone to something unfamiliar, and give that person a good user experience. In my team, we created (on paper, at least) a rather cool idea for a Lego website, aimed at kids who had never played with Lego before. We gave it the tagline “Building your own experience”. We were quite proud of it!

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