UX and startups, my talk at UX Camp DC 2011
This past Saturday I had the opportunity to drive down to DC and participate in this years UX Camp DC 2011. This was my first time attending a barcamp and also a first for attending this particular conference. Overall, I was very happy to have been a part of this event and was impressed with the content and energy of everyone in attendance.
The day started off with the creation of the topics and schedule. Now, this isn’t the typical conference in that you have a predetermined schedule and time slots of topics. Instead, everyone arrives at the venue that morning and writes on a whiteboard a topic and time they’d like to present. It is important to note that there were a few participants that were invited to attend (as opposed to simply registering and arriving that day). You can see the full schedule here.
I showed up that morning with no intention of speaking, but alas, there was an empty space once the dust settled. As I mentioned at the beginning of my talk, I like whitespace as much as anyone else, but I just couldn’t resist the urge. I ended up proposing a discussion about UX and Startups, but more on that later.
After that, there was a different discussion suggested by a local entrepreneur and startup owner discussing - Facebook, twitter, 4sq and Groupon: Why call them tech companies and not IXD companies? He suggested that these new and successful “tech companies” were not necessarily technology innovations but rather innovations and successes based on quality experience and interaction design. His topic raised some debate with the participants but I personally saw his point and agreed with much of his stance on these companies mentioned.
Next, I decided to sit in on Thom Haller presenting - Framework for making complex clear, in which you can see the video of here. He spoke about concepts not unfamiliar to us as UX designers but I appreciated his somewhat unique approach to the content. Thom went further into detail how he uses his “triangle” of audience, context and purpose. We heard about ways in which Thom has created quick and dirty personas from his method of holding the “triangle” up to gain perspective that not everyone is our audience and that we should focus the lens, so to speak. Thom’s website has more information.
After a break for lunch, it was time for me to lead a discussion about UX and Startups. Since I wasn’t anticipating leading a topic that day, there were no slides for this particular talk. Instead, I allowed it to be an informal discussion about some of the challenges presented to UX designers within a startup atmosphere.
I was lucky enough to have folks attend my session with different perspectives, both as consultants and large enterprise designers who faced similar challenges in their respective environment. During the session, I told stories of challenges I had faced during my time working for startups as well as offering advice for overcoming some of the obstacles that others had encountered as outside consultants.
You can view the video of my session here. You can also watch below.
After my session, the same room had Dana Chisnell leading a discussion about Rethinking User Research for Social. You can view the video of this talk here (the video is quite dark). Dana pointed out some common pitfalls of usability testing in general, but also how “traditional” means of usability testing don’t accurately account for the context of the social web. It was an interesting topic that was a tough nut to crack. Dana also shared a few case studies of social web gone wrong, even when thoroughly tested and researched (see: Google Buzz). Ultimately, the group felt that setting up scenarios with real people and content was paramount to properly researching the social web.
I ended my day by attending the talk given by Dan Willis - This is your brain, this is your brain on UX. You can view the video of this lively session here. I appreciated much of Dan’s content as he often cited the book (that I very much enjoyed) “Brain Rules”. He used the biological processes of the brain to point out new and interesting considerations to make when designing experiences. Most notably was the reference that we are exposed to roughly 11 million data points every second, yet our prefrontal cortex only absorbs about 40! Dan also used participants to act out parts of the brain to demonstrate the way humans understand and process new information.
All in all it was a great time. I really appreciate those who attended my session and would highly recommend anyone considering attending to do so in the future.