Five members of the Industrial Media team attended the third annual UXCampconference in Ottawa this weekend.
We sent some of our strategic, creative, and technical team and everyone had a unique key takeaway from the day. Read on below for perspectives from Jeff, Patrice, Amanda, Patrick and Luc.
The shift from “features” to “experience” in design
Jeff Horne, CEO
Jared Spool from User Interface Engineering spoke of the ongoing shift of designing for “features” to instead designing for “experience.” Before the iPhone changed the world in 2005, feature phones ruled the mobile space with a focus not on the user experience, but on ensuring a basic set of features such as texting, emailing, and visual voicemail.
I think what this emphasises is that as user experience designers, it is critical that we look beyond the features that are needed in any digital project, and instead focus on the desired user experience, right from day 1 of the project life cycle.
A people-first digital philosophy
Patrice Hall, Director of Client Services
Jeff Parks, Co-Founder of DIGIA UX Inc. delivered a passionate talk that fell a little outside of a direct link to UX. His presentation aimed to remind us that our industry is all about people. People are the foundation of every organization and the foundation of UX. Once upon a time, technology started out by encouraging creative ideas of what could be but now, technology is preventing the sharing of meaningful discussions that truly inspire.
We need to get out from under the ‘blue haze’ of Facebook and Twitter, up from our desks and talk to one another! Jeff stressed that nothing is original. There are no original ideas and we should stop fighting over ideas and look to people. Borrow from as many people as you can, interact in your environment instead of pose in it, and focus on what you should be doing instead of what you could be doing.
My favourite nugget from Jeff: ‘If we live in a world where we can know everything, what’s the purpose of a title?’
Multi-faceted Designers Wanted
Amanda Homeniuk, Creative Director
It is fast becoming apparent to anyone in business today that what differentiates a great product or service from a poor one is the experience created by its design. In his presentation, Jared Spool said, “Well designed stuff makes a difference.” As a result the current and upcoming demand for UX designers is simply staggering.
But the difficulty is that the notion of being a specialist in one type of design or another really doesn’t work when there are not enough designers to go around. You simply can’t specialize as an information designer or a visual designer or an SEO expert, you need to cross-train and make all the components of a successful user experience part of your skill set.
Those designers out there who can adapt and consolidate all those skills are the ones who will rise to the top. Jared’s advice on how to accomplish this was to find something you’re really good at and teach it to as many of your colleagues as you can. And when you realize you need to improve in one area, reach out and find someone who has that skill and get them to teach it to you.
My favorite quote from Jared: “There is no strategy. Strategy is just doing your work really well and really fast.”
Intersections between Accessibility, Design, and UX
Patrick Villemaire, Senior Developer
Derek Featherstone‘s presentation on “Accessibility as a Design Tool” focused on creating an understanding of the benefits accessibility has on a website’s overall design and functionality. Creating an accessible website is more than just ensuring every image has alternate text. It is an important step in creating more user-friendly websites.
For example, by making form validation accessible, we can also make the form easier to complete. Errors can be highlighted and jump links can be added to help facilitate the user to get to every item that needs to be corrected. By utilizing accessibility as a design tool it creates a situation where everybody wins from easier to use interfaces.
Harnessing the Power of Bad Ideas
Luc Leblanc, Intermediate developer
In his talk “The Power Of Bad Ideas,” Steve Portigal of Portigal Consulting argued that the difference between good and bad ideas is often driven by context. For example, a car without a spare tire is a bad idea, if that car is intended for general highway use. A spare tire on a race car, however is a terrible idea.
Inquiring about bad ideas is therefore crucial to great design and execution; it allows members of a team to see their work from different perspectives and anticipate user needs. This drives innovation. Bad ideas, if channelled properly, create great products. But “why?” is the crucial factor, as is an environment where bad ideas can become great ideas.
Bad ideas are attempts to fit a concept into the wrong context. This idea about the presence of bad ideas was complementary to Jared’s talk about specialists vs. generalists. Channeled within a highly collaborative environment, bad ideas can be made to be productive. Designers, developers and account managers can all become better by understanding and contributing to the whole process by bringing bad ideas to the table and refactoring bad ideas in areas they are expert.
See You Next Year!
Many thanks to the organizers of UXCamp Ottawa and all of those who came out to support. We’re already looking forward to next year as this just gets bigger and better every year!