Learnings from UXPA 2014

Abi and Steve toy fightingThe annual UXPA conference was in London this year held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge from 21st to 25th July and once again we were treated to some great presentations, tutorials and opportunities to meet and mingle with other UX Folk.

Chris’s (our MD) tutorial on Remote Usability Testing went down well while Stephen and I did battle in the Ignite Session called ‘Are you a super hero or a super villain? Using design psychology for good and evil” Ed was as usual, a networking maestro, particularly among his accessibility colleagues.

The thames and London eyeBut it wasn’t all jazz and boat trips down the Thames you know; there was lots of learning to be done and here is a summary of just some of the key points we took away with us. Matias Duarte who leads the Android Design team at Google posed the question Is mobile dead?

He pointed out that mobile and tablets are just one part of a bigger experience of how a customer engages with your product.

He contends that ‘mobile first’ strategies are misdirected; design strategies should start with the ‘experience first’.

Certainly a concept we need to consider when looking at the experience as a whole from end-to-end and one that more and more of our clients are thinking about when developing their UX Strategies.

Bill Gribbons is the Program Director for the Bentley University Graduate UX Program talked about how to innovate in UCD.  He emphasised the key to innovation is recognising and focusing on what the real human need is.

Ethnographic tools are good for helping us better understand this and Bill told us innovation is about producing what your customers want when they (or before) they need it.  It is NOT waiting until they tell you they want it. By then it’s too late. Apple has traditionally been strong in this space.

I heard more about Journey maps and how they are useful to get people in an organisation on the same page.  Alicia Hatter and Amber Derosa from Vanguard reminded us that when creating journey maps we need to collect information on what users are thinking, feeling and doing in the process that we are deconstructing.

If using personas, they recommend using different journey maps for each persona e.g.  6 personas =  6 different journey maps. Here in User Vision we find Journey maps useful tools to visualise how customers engage with services and also to highlight areas for opportunity.

Goodbye Focus Groups. Hello, Friendship Groups was a talk about new techniques for design research. Emily Chu and Zarla Ludin presented a range of useful new techniques such as “Quick Hits” – 10-minute interviews at different times of day, different times of the week. And “Social Graphs” – A verbal or written way for users to define who they are to their circles (e.g., themselves, their closest, their network, etc.) and “Metaphor Brands” – using brands as a metaphor (e.g., “What if Uber was a grocery store?”).

In How to understand and prioritize user needs: A marriage of UX and Market Research” the group at Citrix gave us an overview of a project they had undertaken combining Mental Models with the business process called Jobs to be Done; a method developed by Clay Christianson.

Through this they were able to give different research insights ‘an opportunity score’ (combining importance and lack of satisfaction) and this allowed them to prioritise insights and new opportunities.

Government Digital Service continue to do stellar work in revolutionising the face of public services online. The presentations from the team provided a good overview of the user-centred approach they have been adopting for the past few years inspired by the Revolution not Evolution call to action from Martha Lane Fox to Francis Maude.  Their design principles are well worth a look .

Diagram of plain language and complex language

One of their principles is “Inclusive design is good design”. One of the examples the team spoke about is use of plain language and how this “opens the service up” but doesn’t lose anything for those that use complex language. This in itself is nothing new but is a nice clear example of making the web more inclusive for all.

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