Late August provided myself and a co-worker (Wayde) with an opportunity to venture to Melbourne to listen, learn, and furthermore grow from an amazing line-up of speakers at the UX Australia conference. Our awesome bosses thought this would be an excellent end to a great year of working at The Village of Useful.
Wayde and I make up a small portion of a team of do’ers and thinkers- more tangibly, we’re a small part of a digital and technology agency located in Newcastle, Australia.
Our main objectives were to take some of the learnings from UX Australia and spread some knowledge to the rest of the team.
And boy did we learn a lot. From the incredible opener from Denise Jacobs, to the awe-inspiring closing keynote from Patricia Moore, UX Australia 2016 managed to set a new standard for conferences in the Design space.
If I was to pick out the key messages that echoed from this year’s talks I would say that there was an inextricable link between the importance of time, and positioning your team to identify the right problems as opposed to generating what you think is the right solution.
This sounds simple on the surface but it requires a focus on stakeholder buy-in, trust, and a lengthy amount of research to determine exactly what problem the audience of the given product or service is facing. A healthy amount of empathy is the crux of designing for the experience — but the importance lies in actually spend the time doing the initial research.
Another key element was the importance of context in 2016. As the smartphone continues to dominate, soon to be in the pockets of over 2 billion individuals across the globe, speakers continued to allude to the importance of designing for the whole experience. We need to be accountable for the transitions between touch points. From the online purchase to the in-store pickup, it’s important to let our users/customers/stakeholders know that we understand where they are in their journey, and what tools they have at their disposal to make whatever they are doing with our product as simple or as convenient as possible.
It is critical that for every point of contact with the customer, we understand that our job as designers in the field of CX/UX does not stop when someone closes the tab on their browser. It does not even stop when they are satisfied with the brand’s product offering or service — there is always the opportunity to under promise and over deliver.
Slide from Andrew Wight’s talk “Beyond best practice: Crafting purposefully distinct experiences”
Experience is more than interface. It is about context, meaning, and expectations.
We need to understand what context that we are designing for, and if you can accomodate variations of context — do so. Derek Featherstone illustrated this in his talk by providing a simple context map, explaining how context changes according to proximity, for notifications on multiple devices.
Slide from Derek Featherstone’s talk “Designing For Context Not The Device”
Considering how smart our devices have become, it is truly intriguing how little they are able to communicate with one another. I am really hopeful that more applications and services will begin to accomodate for such hand-off and context-aware interactions.
It would be a crime for me not to mention the level of emotion, passion, and aspiration that Patricia Moore conveyed during her closing keynote. There has not been another occasion where an individual has managed to capture my attention and shift my perspective in such a short period of time. She spoke about the importance of inclusive design in such a succinct and powerful manner that I do not feel that words can explain how critical her presentation was to my own personal growth. I sincerely suggest you put some time aside to listen to the audio from her presentation when it becomes available — I guarantee it will be worth your while.
In summary, UX Australia was an incredible, thoughtful, and powerfully motivating experience. I believe that it has helped me grow as a designer both through theoretical understandings and practical learnings. Each talk I had the opportunity to attend was excellent, however I have managed to put together a top 5 that I suggest you take a look at (Presentation Slides & Audio are becoming available)
- Closing Keynote — Patricia Moore
- Beyond best practice: Crafting purposefully distinct experiences — Andrew Wight
- The details are not the details: How small things have a large impact — Ash Donaldson
- A 45 minute talk about designing a single button — Ollie Campbell
- Designing for context not the device — Derek Featherstone
Outside the walls of the conference we were also treated to some luxury accomodation at St. Jerome’s The Hotel, situated on the rooftop of Melbourne Central. This is glamping in style — electric blankets, an esky full of beer, and dessert delivered to your tent whenever you so please. It has a certain feel that lets you know that you really are in the heart of Melbourne. From the incredible service of the staff, to the complementary evening cocktails — this is the camping spot for even the most avid hotel goers.
Do yourself a favour and put this on your bucket list. It won’t disappoint.
But, this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our evening at Supernormal. Unarguably the best food I have ever had the chance to treat my tastebuds too. Everything was cooked to perfection, and flavour was ensured with each and every bite. Our line-up was filled with Pan Fried Spicy Beef Buns, New England Lobster Rolls, Duck Bao with Vinegar & Plum Sauce, and Slow Cooked Szechuan Lamb — I think it goes without saying that our Grow & Tell trip to Melbourne delivered at every avenue, and Supernormal put the icing on an already impressive cake.
Supernormal is an inspired interpretation of our favourite Asian eating experiences.
Lastly, a big thanks to The Village of Useful for giving me this incredible opportunity — it was truly a worthwhile experience.