On the 19 and 20 June I attended my first UX Scotland conference at Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh over the course of two sunny days.
This was the second UX Scotland conference organised by Software Acumen that featured a fantastic programme of presentations, inspiring keynotes and lightning talks from experienced UX practitioners.
Firstly, Joshua Marshall, Head of Accessibility at Government Digital Services, gave an inspiring keynote demonstrating Empathy as User Experience on how to make it work for everyone, accommodating all users. Joshua leads the work in making UK public services inclusive as possible for everyone and started off his presentation with Tim Berners-Lee’s manifesto;
The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of ability is an essential aspect.
The outcome of GOV.UK has provided Government services in a format that is simpler, cleaner and faster, all from a strategy of 10 design principles two of which focus on accessibility. Joshua’s ethic is to ‘design like you give a damn’, the ‘prettiest site won’t work if the foundations are terrible’. And it’s so true, accessible design is good design and it is everyone’s collective contribution in the making of a product.
Following on from Joshua’s keynote talk on accessibility, David Sloan from The Paciello Group spoke about design thinking for accessible experiences in order to create a more digitally inclusive world.
This was a hands-on workshop where David used a page from a live site and highlighted what issues it had for accessibility. In our tables we were tasked to redesign the page in order to make it accessible. We got to brainstorm ideas and come up with a wireframe on a design that took into consideration the structure, interaction, wayfinding and context of the page.
This was a great learning exercise into integrating accessibility into the design process to provide a more accessible user experience for everyone. Chris Clark gave us an insight into the process, and the challenges faced, in making the Guardian Football Beta; especially in the lead up to the World Cup.
They conducted mobile studies to capture the ‘football week’ and what devices were used to view particular content. They were surprised at just how often people switched devices or even used multi-devices (on a laptop using their phone with the TV in the background). The studies provided four personas that helped shape their work and focus on the projects goals (excuse the pun). For a small team they learnt a lot, quickly. They started far too ambitious but learnt to make more modular systems in order to fit in with the time frame.
The project was a success due to their ‘think small but scale big approach’. Chrissy Welsh talked about Cross Channel Experience in her ‘Design for the experience not the channel’ presentation. This really showcased the need to ‘design for the entire journey not a single interaction’ where people should be able to move from several channels without having to redo, relearn to complete tasks.
Chrissy spoke about the importance of understanding the context of choosing a channel and that the experience goes beyond a single device as more people use more than one device simultaneously – we are no longer designing for the web but the entire end to end user consumer journey.
Not forgetting my colleague’s talks. Abi Reynolds talked about the right tool for the job – choosing the right UX methodologies and methods to answer your UX research questions.
Stephen Denning and Nicola Dunlop spoke about using self-motivated mobile diary studies to capture natural experiences. Attending UX Scotland enabled me to learn, network and socialise with likeminded people, and is something that I hope to repeat next year.