Last week Oxford welcomed its first conference dedicated to UX – UX in the City. A collaboration between the organisers of UX Cambridge and UX Scotland, and the organisers of UX Oxford the conference promised to be two days of learning and networking. We sponsored the event and our Head of Design Mariana Morris (@marianamota) was part of the team from UX Oxford who helped to put together the event.
Mariana, Ben and I went to promote user experience and design at OCC. We gave each attendee a free notebook to sketch ideas and take notes during the conference. The notebooks were based around three themes ‘Get out of the office’, ‘Observing people for a living’ and ‘Your problem is my problem’ which aimed to playfully explore the UX process and appeal to our peers. We also had a stand in the foyer stocked with more giveaways and information on our user experience and bespoke software services.
Oxford Computer Consultants were also well represented in the conference programme with Mariana giving a tutorial on techniques for getting a whole project team involved in the UX process. Her talk entitled ‘A dose of user research’ provided practical techniques and tools for integrating UX Design thinking and research into the agile software development process.
Matt also gave a repeat of his lightning talk ‘Typography and Information’ which discussed some of the ways user experience designers can use typographic techniques to aid effective communication of information to readers.
On Thursday morning Kelly Goto (@go2girl) opened the conference with an inspiring talk ‘Beyond Usable: Mapping Emotion to Experience’ which looked at how we can use rapid cycles of ethnographic research to make important product decisions that engage users emotions in weeks instead of months. She illustrates the importance of engaging emotion in the user experience process with her statement:
‘Emotion is the new brand value. It cannot be bought, it is earned through trust over time. If you are not meeting actual needs, your product will fail.’
– Kelly Goto
One of our favourite talks from day one was the interactive tutorial session by Adrain Warman (@warmana) on communication between designers and developers. Within his 45 minute session he had the whole audience on their feet at least once exploring common challenges around the themes of teamwork, feedback, context awareness and switching, crossing the language barrier and agreeing on the experience in interactive setting.
On the second day we all attended a three-hour workshop on UX Strategy by Jaime Levy (@JaimeRLevy). UX strategy combines UX and business thinking to produce high-level plans that achieve business goals. Drawing on lean startup methodology of validating hypotheses with real customers a good UX strategy reduces the risk of solving the wrong problem. The workshop explored how we can use competitor analysis to provide insight into current trends, mental models and user experience techniques. Mariana won a free copy of Jaime’s new book UX Strategy – how to devise innovative digital products that people want, which We are looking forward to reading and using some of the techniques she discuss in our own products and projects.