Highlights from UXAustralia 2012

The Boomworks UX crew headed to Brisbane last week to attend the 2012 UXAustralia conference and had an intense few days thinking on ‘being human’. The format is two days of workshops and two days of conference presentations and we managed to get across almost all of these sessions. Here are a few highlights from my two days spent at the presentation part of the program.

There were some fantastic presentations and a lot of inspirational awesomeness to take away from the event. I was very excited by the prospect of Stephen Cox’s presentation on The design anthropologist’s mindset and was not disappointed. Stephen examined design from the perspective of an anthropologist; looking at what it means to be human and how this can influence our work as designers. He talked about how design communicates; how it creates communities, opportunities and shifts power and had many in the audience examining themselves and how their designs influence the world. First, do no evil!

Another highlight for me at the conference was Steve ‘Doc’ Baty’s common sense approach to Sources of innovation: How context and empathy drive innovation. I walked away from this talk with a much broader approach to designing; considering audiences and questions that will better inform my problem solving and research. Steve talked about asking the question: Who are you designing for? His advice to get out there and talk to your/the client’s ex-customers, interview the buyers, the influencers and the near customers, not just the users and think about the gatekeepers broadens the research scope and richness of the environmental data you can draw on. This will lead to an increase in our chances to conceptualise and realise breakthroughs. And yes, interviewing your ex-customers may result in painful but none-the-less important lessons for you to learn.

Joe Lamantia’s talk on Designing interactions for big data in the age of insight, using the language of discovery was BIG! This is a fascinating area and work that has gone into identifying nine modes of using data and the patterns used across these made it a little bit easier to understand. Joe’s focus on the language of discovery showed that this is research based, has a common grammar and utilises scenario analysis. Everything is discoverable and learning how to analyse and visualise this is something that I definitely want to learn more about.

The other presentation that I really got a lot from was from Jake Causby. His presentation on Potholes on the journey to design transparency examined cultural changes, channels for sharing and collaboration. Reducing documentation and creating shared understanding between team members results in a more informed and cohesive team. Giving everyone the opportunity to reach a shared understanding doesn’t mean the dreaded design by committee rather, as his colleague Henry Tapia eloquently expressed ‘everyone gets a say but not everyone will get their way’. Jake advised that using indicative fidelity, educating and explaining and most importantly, specifying up front what you want feedback on helps to keep everyone on the same track. Jake wrapped up with some effective tools for ongoing collaboration including using visual material, conducting collaborative sessions, pairing, impromptu discussions and maintaining a live pattern library.

These were my favourite sessions from the two fabulous days away but there were so many more things to talk about that there are sure to be more posts coming through from the rest of the Boomworks UX crew.

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