Short Talks

To conclude the day, everyone gathered together to hear a series of short lightning talks from delegates. Here’s a potted summary of each of their talks:

Three UX Lessons from Architecture School

Lucy McCulloch

In her short talk, Lucy reviewed 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, which highlights a number of things we should think about in user design.

She highlighted three key lessons:

Lesson 1: Improved design process, not a perfectly realised building is the best result
Lesson 2: If you can’t explain your ideas to your grandmother in terms she would recognise, you don’t know your subject well enough.
Lesson 3: A good graphic presentation meets the ten-foot test

Watch Lucy’s talk in full:



Emotional Triggers

Shazmin Jagot

Despite her height, Shazmin plays basketball and finds that carrying her ball down the street triggers conversations with strangers – sport triggers emotions. Children and pets do a similar thing.

If you stroke a puppy, you are using all of your senses, which makes the experience more memorable. She demonstrated this by asking the audience to close their eyes whilst she read a passage of text – transporting them into someone else’s memory and experience.

She stressed that the way a message is conveyed is vital to how it is perceived. In digital, we are limited to sight, sound and touch. We cannot add smell, which is most associated with memory. In UX we focus on our mental models of the product, but Shazmin suggested using a mental model of our culture instead. She used Siri as an example, which has been programmed to be sarcastic. Maybe one day the digital devices we programme will be able to understand us better than we understand ourselves.

Watch Shazmin’s talk in full:



Working in Harmony

Sophie Dennis

In our industry, we are good at arguing who’s job is more important:

“Content First!”

“But design is important too!”

Sophie feels that the problem is the word ‘first’. In our culture, first is the most important and should therefore tell everyone else what to do. This creates a major problem in waterfall projects, where content actually comes last.

Sophie argued that we do is fundamentally collaborative. She suggested that the web is more like music: If we think as content as the musical score and design as the musician who interprets it and ask “which is more important?” we find that actually you need both for the experience.

Like a musical score, structured content is abstract content. There are very few people can read a score and hear the music in our head. We may need to create structured content, but we still need to experience it in context.

Sophie concluded by emphasising that we have to stop sitting in silos arguing who has the most important job – we need to organise our teams as collaborative groups, sharing the vision.

Watch Sophie’s talk in full:



The Power of Make Believe

Ben Hayes

As a teenager, Ben was into role playing games. For him, it was about creating a world, being someone else and doing things he couldn’t do in the real world.

In his job as a designer, he feels he still uses this capacity to make believe. When he builds something, he imagines he is the user who is going to use the product.

He discussed the scenarios described in About Face by Alan Cooper, which are concrete, specific stories about your user and what they do in their daily life as they use your product. He is always surprised how simple it is to be innovative when using these scenarios. You have constraints: your persona, your intuitive understanding of how the world works, and your goal, but you also have the freedom to let the storytelling find a natural flow towards the user’s goal.

He focussed on one key quote from Cooper: “Pretend the interface is magic”. This allows him to concentrate on how to get to the goal.

You obviously have to dial, back as you can’t build everything you can imagine. However, you do find things are novel and unexpected.

Watch Ben’s talk in full:



UX is Dead. Long live UX

Andy Budd

User experience came into many of our lives around 10 years ago. However, Andy argued that over the last few year user experience has been unwell.

Many of us may not be aware that user experience design has died. It became very niche, fixating on process and the minutia. Younger, smarter people have come an taken over with a broader skill set.

Andy believes there is still room for user experience in the world, but we don’t need this really specific skill any more – we need a mix of skills. He argued that we are moving away from the interface and Artificial Intelligence will soon take over from the UI, so it is time for user experience to die.

Andy feels we should mourn the loss of UX, but from the ashes there are a lot of good things to take away: collaboration, thoughtful approach to craftsmanship, thinking about the details of a problem. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next ten years.