Our experience at UXDX 2017 Dublin

Large-scale web events don’t often appear here in Ireland. Especially those focused on user experience. So when promotion started for UXDX 2017, we jumped at the chance to attend.

Excited to rub shoulders with other fellow UX designers and discover how other agencies and practitioners are bridging the gap between UX and Dev Ops; tickets were obtained and the i3 Digital design team were planning a trip to Dublin.

UXDX 2017, was held at the RDS Dublin, a beautiful spacious venue perfect for an event such as this. Upon arrival we were in the thick of it. Between checking out the Optimal Workshop stand, discovering the cyberpsychology courses at IADT, all topped off by falling off electric skateboards provided by YVolution. There was no question about it, today was going to be a day of discovering many new technologies, learning new methodologies and chatting to some fantastic people.

UXDX 2017 Dublin RDS

We chose to attend the User Experience stage, digging deeper into the world of UX. Re-evaluating current thinking and discovering new approaches to help evolve our current UX processes. The mission of the event from the outset was User Experience (UX) and Developer Experience (DX) having a better understanding of one another for better collaboration, so I was interested in hearing how this could be achieved.

‘Empowering Autonomous Teams from the Top Down’

To kick the day off we had Bryan Dove’s (Skyscanner CTO) talking about ‘Empowering Autonomous Teams from the Top Down’. A key point of this talk was to fully understand the steps required in having the ability to make decisions with others. This can be difficult to achieve sometimes, as people are reluctant to give up control and fully trust those around them to deliver the best results. Trust your team, if everyone is smart, capable and rational they will make the right choice Bryan tells us.

Building trust with your team is about relying on their experiences.

Experience is simply making a lot of mistakes and learning from them. Learn from others, make mistakes together, and help each other out. It’s all about collaboration.

‘Designing Voice Driven Experiences’.

Next up we had an entertaining talk from Noelle LaCharite (Sr Technical Program Manager at Amazon)  who covered ‘Designing Voice Driven Experiences’.

To hit home with her messages about how devices and interfaces are moving beyond that of the use of screen, she explained many of her points with reference to the Amazon Alexa. She explained everything from ordering groceries, their delivery, pre-heating the oven, could all be done whilst you are driving home on your commute from work. All of which could soon be viable via voice control in your car. Creative ideas and progressive thinking like this really begins to open up your perception of how users behave and how they will expect to use devices in the near future.

Having so many possibilities using voice recognition begins to open many doors for accessibility and for users of all ages, all without the immediate requirement of having a visual interface.

With that revelation she iterated that a UI doesn’t always require a screen. It’s about the user interacting with an interface. With this in mind our goal, as designers should be about making the user ‘comfortable’ in carrying out their tasks. When the technology is ready this could mean endless tasks becoming achievable with voice driven devices, with built-in abilities that enable us to interact with other household devices in a more intuitive way. An extremely exciting prospect and one that might not be as far fetched as it sounds.

‘The Highs and Lows of Building a 30-person Lean UX Team in 1 Year’.

Later in the day Donal O’Mahony, (Head of UX & Product Design, for Fleetmatics) gave a talk on ‘The Highs and Lows of Building a 30-person Lean UX Team in 1 Year’. I found this talk one of the most inspiring of the day. Donal discussed how companies and agencies practice UX but don’t really get a proper handle on it or nurture it.

He explained how to expose and combat this using the UX maturity model…

UX Maturity Model

… a model that is intended to take 20 years to reach completion!

To achieve this progression in a shorter space of time, a design-led approach to team structure was extremely important. Especially adopting the ‘The forming–storming–norming–performing’ model of group development. These phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, face up to challenges, tackle problems, find solutions, plan work, and deliver results.

change happens one person at a time.

We rely so much on an empathic approach to problem solving and working with our clients. Even within workshops with users, but we can take for granted the team of designers, developers and researchers involved to deliver the full process. We need to constantly adapt and evolve within our teams to establish clarity and enhance our overall performance to produce the best products.

‘The Golden Age of UX: Why it Won’t Last’

Lastly I’ll focus on one of the best speakers of the day, Jonathan Courtney, (UX Director / Founding Partner, AJ&Smart) who covered ‘The Golden Age of UX: Why it Won’t Last’. Jonathan had an extremely important message that, we as UX designers can’t solely focus on just what the user wants.

Jonathan Courtney UXDX2017

With this in mind we must dive further into the business needs to deliver a better product for the user. Or risk becoming irrelevant in an age of commoditisation as a designer.

Therefore we must learn and understand the following…

  1. Strategy
  2. Growth
  3. Marketing & Awareness

Having a more holistic business view to cater for the users will help to ensure we are on top of our UX game. As the barrier to become a UX designer is getting lower and lower, with better design systems and software more readily available than ever, we are relying on our numerous years of experience solving problems for business owners, and making sure our results meet the needs of their users.

We put ourselves in the shoes of the users to discover their pain points and try to implement the best approach to meeting their needs, but they won’t point the finger at the designer if something goes wrong…

users don’t blame themselves anymore when they get stuck. They blame your company

To close, I personally learned a great deal of valuable information from the various speakers at UXDX 2017. I also received some great exposure to new techniques and environments. All of which is why we attend events like this. Adapting your skill set by listening and learning from others. This helps us grow as UX designers, creative thinkers, and above all people.

Communication is key for a role such as this. Being able to network and converse with other designers, and listen to talented speakers is extremely important. For that I can only thank those who worked so hard to make UXDX 2017 a huge success.

UXDX2017 Closing

Next up is Pixel Pioneers in Belfast on 16th November.

If you are attending come say hello, I love a good chat.

 

Stephen Currie
User Experience & Front-End Designer

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