Myths to Design By

As UX designers, our work is all about blending ideas we hear from various sources into a single strategy, interface, or solution. However, a deeper thread runs through the work – that in understanding different perspectives, one can see a path they didn’t see previously. Designers often reflect on their philosophies, but it’s not often that explore the underlying, potentially unconscious stories that tie us together.

The development of a design practice is all about learning to listen in various ways. This takes not only our conscious intent, but also an ability to discern those deeper patterns and connections.

In this session, Chris Baum will use the structures of myth to explore the interrelationships of the UX community, give the practice of myth and ritual conscious impact on our projects, and create ever more effective and meaningful designs.

Schrödinger’s IA: Learning to Love Ambiguity

At the start of a project, not only do we not know the answers yet, we don’t even truly know which questions to ask. And yet straight away we’re asked to provide project plans and timelines, to list and describe our deliverables, and to outline the exact steps we intend to take.

So, to avoid the discomfort of not having immediate answers, we map out a methodology for ourselves and apply it to every subsequent project.

But this approach doesn’t serve our clients well. We make decisions too early, and end up solving the wrong problems. We keep going through the motions even when we realise we’re heading down the wrong path, because we don’t want to be seen as inconsistent.

This session, particularly relevant for consultants and agency folk, will focus on the importance of developing a tolerance for ambiguity, and helping our clients to do the same.

UxD v. Analytics

What Have You Got for Me? No, What Have You Got for ME?

Chris and Farris expose the differences between how user experience designers and analytics practitioners think. While UXD weave best practices and user research into their designs, digital analysts spend their time confirming or refuting hypotheses in a data-driven way. One approach is decidedly qualitative, the other decidedly quantitative. In this presentation you will learn through their conversations how it is possible to leverage both enlightened design and deep data to continuously optimize user experiences. If you work on either side of this debate, this is how to better state your case… and get along with the other side.

Eating Our Own Dog Food: Simplicity in Practice and Not Just Design

Simplicity in Practice and Not Just Design

As UX practitioners, one of our core tenets is that the things we design should be as simple as possible for the people who use them. Our goal is to tame complexity so that users don’t have to. But all too often we fail to bring the same level of simplicity to our own communication. We struggle to explain what we do and the value we bring in clear and simple terms.

This talk (originally inspired by the book Life Plain and Simple by Lisa Rose) will explore simplicity – not in the end products we design, but in the way we communicate, collaborate and talk about our work.

The F Word… FAIL

This four-letter word is praised publicly as something we should do often, and fast. But are we showcasing it with our clients and our colleagues? It is easy to show a refined product and a series of process sketches, but to curate and include genuine failures and not just sanitized process is just as important to build lasting relationships. This is scary to do and something our field struggles with in practice, despite the best intentions.

Documenting failure doesn’t need to be scary. I’ll share benefits of being transparent about our failures within our teams and with our clients. This won’t be 40 minutes of rote presentation. You will have a chance to pinpoint experiences of your own and will leave with an understanding on how to use these lessons to advance your projects rather than act as a blemish.

Running Great Review Meetings with Clients & Partners

No matter how great your designs are, the way you communicate with your clients/business partners can make or break your engagement, especially as our design challenges and organizations become more complex.

But what actually makes some meetings go well, and others not? We’ve heard “Be storytellers,” “Provide the right context,” and “Set expectations,” but what does that look like in practice?

I’ll provide real-life examples of how we’ve done this in our presentations for client engagements. We’ll include examples of our fundamental concepts we live by. No surprises. Over-communicate. Tell them how to be and what to do in the meeting. Design every slide of a presentation, not just the “designs.” Tell a story. Assume your clients have no idea what this meeting is all about (put yourself in their shoes).

It always goes better when you’re well prepared; we’ll help you get there.

“Stop Doing What You’re Told!” (Reframing the Design Problem)

(Reframing the Design Problem)

It’s easy to solve the wrong problems. Good design relentlessly questions assumptions and reframes the problem to be solved. We know this, and yet, HOW to actually reframe a problem is missing from our conversations.

In this session, Stephen P. Anderson will share tips that have helped him cut through the noise of requests and requirements, to focus on the real problem(s) to be solved. Specifically, you’ll pick up ways to see a problem from different perspectives, ways to ask why, how to draw upon seemingly unrelated experiences, how to separate real from perceived constraints, and most importantly, ways to keep yourself in check, so as not to solve the wrong problem (or if you do, you do so intentionally, for a strategic purpose!).

Whether you’re designing strategies or screens, you’re sure to pick up a few new mental hacks that you’ll no doubt use on a daily basis.

Designing for Failure: How Creating Negative Personas and Failed User Journeys Make a Better Website

How Creating Negative Personas and Failed User Journeys Make a Better Website

As part of planning an online experience we often create personas of happy users taking successful journeys through the site.

But what about the users we don’t expect (or maybe don’t even want)? How do we prepare for visitors who are looking for something but don’t find it? Should we continue to cater only for our primary audiences? Can we afford to ignore the expectations of apparently unimportant audiences if that means disappointment, frustration and negative brand perception, and could lead to a site becoming a platform for complaints?

I believe that we can no longer ignore these other users. Come to this session if you’re looking for a twist to your UX tool kit. We’ll be looking at examples of sites that do cater for the unexpected, and I’ll be suggesting simple approaches to creating negative personas and failed user journeys.

Elegant Precision: Connect with People Using Plain Language

Learn linguistic tips and web copy tricks to get findable, stay optimized, and say what you mean. Plain language is the practice of replacing fancy words and diluted sentences with the language of your audience. Straightforward words express ideas more clearly than verbose marketese or industry jargon: trousers might seem great to the marketing team, but the 2 AM shopper is looking for pants.

Study linguistic concepts and real-world techniques for usable, engaging communication. This is not about dumbing down our words; plain language is about elegant precision. In this talk, learn methods to disconnect from a thesaurus and reconnect with people.

Your Mobile Experience Is Not Theirs

Why Your Users in Asia Will Never Be Like Your Users in the West

Your phone, and many of the apps on it, were probably designed by or for people living on the West Coast of the United States. But as the mobile phone market matures, consumers in Shanghai are becoming just as important as those in San Francisco. They’re not niche markets, they’re growth markets. How can a designer in Baltimore figure out how to create a mobile experience for a user in Bangkok?

This presentation will explore the reasons why the mobile experience in one country will never be the same as in other countries. This talk will also reveal interesting insights about how users in different countries use their mobile devices. I’ll help you understand the surprising similarities and differences between mobile users around the world and highlight elements which should be considered when designing for these users, including a model to help you plan your next international app or website.