Whilemany revelers took to the streets of Seattle last week to celebrate the unprecedented win of the Seahawks, several hundred dedicated UX people were huddled in the Hyatt Olive 8, listening to the first day of speakers at Convey UX.
Joe Welinske, from Blink UX, was the Producer of the event and is to be commended for the great roster of speakers and varied topics made available over the 3-day conference. Where many conferences tend to focus on UX for practitioners or evolving disciplines like Content Strategy, or a more utopian view of what our industry can achieve in terms of positive change (think Work IA Day,) Convey UX presented a healthy portion of all of these topics – and more.
With 40+ sessions and 30+ presenters, it would be impossible to report on everything at the conference, so this report covers the sessions I attended. I have to say it was often difficult to choose between activities because there were so many compelling topics and knowledgeable UX professionals speaking.
Who better to kick off a conference on usability and user experience design than Don Norman? A veteran in the area of cognitive science, design and usability engineering and co-founder and consultant with the Nielsen Norman Group, Norman’s opening helped to set the stage for the conference by underscoring the point that user experience design is not and never has been limited to websites. As Norman said, “We all come to the table looking at a problem from our own perspective…. Through chaos comes the solution.” Unfortunately the reality for most of us is that thinking through problems or at a basic level even developing the right questions to ask, often takes more time than what is in scope. Living up to his reputation as a somewhat loveable curmudgeon, Norman advised the audience that, “In the end bosses don’t want to hear about the problems – they want to hear the solutions,” and that as consultants (or workers), “it’s your job is to get your manager or client promoted…”
Kelly Goto’s presentation, Beyond Usable: Mapping Emotion to Experience, addressed the need to be empathetic with our users. Introducing the concept of “inter-conscious” – or automatic thinking, which occurs in between what you’re aware of and deeper subconscious, Goto feels, “We need to tap into that to design things that will make a difference to people.” Tying together principles of Kansei engineering, which evolved over the last 50 years in Japanese product design, as well as Artistotle’s three tenets for persuasion: Ethos (ethical appeal); Pathos (passion); and Logos (appeal of logic) Goto’s influences are far reaching. Her presentation was a great reminder that although there are new things under the sun, as UX practitioners, we can look to inventors, thinkers and brilliant minds of the past who have also contemplated many questions similar to the challenges that we face today in designing for usability.
Misty Weaver gave a nuts and bolts presentation on Building Sustainable Content Strategy from the Holistic Content Audit. Using an onion as the analogy, she shared the Onion Model used by Cognitive Work Analysis as well as other content models including Content Lifecycle developed by Rahel Bailie. And yes, the onion theme was apt as doing a deep content has brought many to tears! She reminded the audience of all the different types of audits that can be done to bring greater insight and awareness to our projects. From quantitative to technical and competitive, audits can serve multiple purposes, which can help with analysis and decisions made for content and how it is meeting the needs of targeted audiences.
For me, one of the highlights of the conference was hearing McGrane’s talk on Going Responsive Workshop, Micro-interactions talk, Unbiased Methods workshop, and Mapping design decisions to evidence.