Some lucky interaction designers from BEKK had the chance to visit the UX Lx conference in sunny Lisbon, between May the 16th and the 19th, where UX-people from all over the world met to discuss user experience, participate in workshops and listen to a lot of inspiring talks. There is so much to tell you about, but we´ll try to give you a short summary of highlights.
1. Gerry McGovern – Top Task Management
Irish Gerry McGovern is absolutely clear about one thing: ”Cut content or you´ll kill the user experience”. His speech is convincing and spiced up with British Monty Python-like humour. He describes the web as an organism, which is just eating and eating, meaning adding more and more content, without pooing. Some of the things pushing this behaviour is the counting of content produced, of hits, time spent on a page and so on. This counting sometimes gives a false and damaging impression of a website’s performance. ”Traffic is how idiots track success”, he says.
His solution is Top Task Management. All websites are made up of a series of customer tasks and many organizations spend too much time focusing on the tiny tasks, instead of the important ones; the top tasks. In his workshop we learn why the tiny tasks in the “Long Tail” get in the way of the top tasks of the “Long Neck”—and what to do about it. Download his presentation.
2. Joshua Porter – Microcopy
In this speech Joshua Porter describes how to use microcopy to reduce interface friction, prevent cognitive blocks and to bring personality to the interface. Using these small, helpful and sometimes encouraging words is a quick way of improving the user experience. If we understand the users mental models, predict what they will ask for and add microcopy, we`ll manage to clear the path for the users.
Joshua gives a number of nice examples and I´ll give you some of them. Add the text ”No credit card needed” to the ”Free Trial”-button, just to make that absolutely clear. Add some humour to an email sign up with this line: ”We hate spam just as much as you” or tell people you`re serious about a survey by saying: ”We promise to read every word”. Adding microcopy is both simple and useful, so why not use it? Have a look at his presentation!
3. Nate Bolt – Remote Research
The history of user testing shows an academic focused and lab-based testing, which sometimes lead to wrong conclusions. Nowadays we have an array of methods and tools for remote research to choose from. We can observe users, through Skype, GotoMeeting or other screen sharing tools with so called moderated tests or we could easily automate and scale the test by sending out a survey to a large number of users, using automated tools like Usabilla or similar.
The big advantage with remote user testing is that we survey or observe the users in their actual enviroment, which is both timesaving and cost effective too. In this workshop we learn how to choose the appropriate tool, how to recruit participants and how to facilitate the test . But make sure you´re prepared when doing remote research, cause everything could go very wrong!
Check out Bolt´s webpage if you want to learn more about remote research.
4. Debra Gelman – Designing for Children
Debra Gelman´s workshop includes concrete tips, her experiences, as well as the surrounding theory of designing for children. She also talks about how to employ the acquired knowledge, to be used in the development of concepts, with children as the target user group.
Based on psychological and sociological differences, she divides children in several age groups: 2-5, 6-9 and 10-12 years old. Each age group requires special consideration as they significantly differ from each other. In addition, Debra touches on the differences and similarities between designing for children and designing for adults. For example, she has found that while adults can categorize information based on several variables (like color, shape, size, etc.), children are only capable of identifying one variable. More so, that variable tends to be color, a phenomenon she referred to as “color serve”. Finally, she briefly describes how to perform research with kids, a problematic topic due to both legal and psychological aspects.
For more, view Mutte´s notes.
5. Jesse James Garrett – Design for Engagement
Garrett´s talk is less practical and more philosophical. It´s inspiring and make us think about our practice, what we’re actually doing and who is really a designer. Beethoven was an experience designer through his music, he claimes.
He talks about the user experience of tomorrow. The history of user experience, which started years ago with products, then expanded to involve services, then environments and now it is all about creating cross-channel-experiences. The ultimate goal is to create human engagement, which can occur in the four areas of PACE (Perception, Action, Cognition and Emotion), he says. Design is not anymore about “mediumism”, but rather a cross-channel experience.
6. Peter Morville – The Architecture of understanding
The wellknown author of the book “Information Architecture for the www” talks about the importance of a cross-channel strategy too. He means that IX-people (more precise IA`s) are bridge builders and must be good at both understanding what people are asking for and at encouraging and helping the customers to understand the importance of a cross-channelstrategy.
Have a look at his inspiring talk.
7. Indi Young- Mental Models
A mental model is “a mental representation” of how people think, feel, react, and interact with their environment. These models are useful in the development of services and products as they can remind your team of the users’ mentality.
In this workshop Indi Young reminds us of the importance of attempting to deduce the mental model of a user, as she rightly says “we are not the target audience”. For example, she recommends researchers to consider user interviews more as conversations. We should strive to encourage the interviewee to share stories, as “stories are just data with a soul”, and stories are easier for an interviewee to recall and retell, she says. The workshop gradually transforms from theory to practice. She performs a live demonstration on stage, interviewing a volunteer and tells us a lot of useful tips. For example, never ask an interviewee to imagine a future/potential mental state. This is because we do not want speculation and guesswork, but rather reasons for why they actually do what they do. This is a very educational workshop about an interesting topic, excellently presented by an expert.
For more, view Mutte´s notes.
Want some more? Check out the currently available speaker presentations from UXLx 2012.