UX Rebels Summit overview

I had the opportunity to participate in the UX Rebel’s Summit this week [Nov. 17, 2015] (hosted by Christopher Schmitt). I found this to be a great online event and wanted to share some insights and thoughts from the event. Keep in mind, I have 189 pages of screen captures and notes associated with this event. These are some of the highlights. One of the features I liked was that learning objectives were provided for each session. The speakers were engaging and very knowledgeable. There were 7 session in all. The links below direct you to each presenter’s Twitter profile.

  1. Designing your UX portfolio by Ian Fenn
  2. Tools and gadgets for research by Annette Priest
  3. Designing for happiness by Pamela Pavliscak
  4. Designing your design team by Alberta Soranzo
  5. Accessibility is usability by Patrick Fox
  6. 9 ways to guide people with design by Jennifer Tang
  7. UX is UI by Mike Atherton

I will cover each of these sessions in more depth.

Designing your UX portfolio by Ian Fenn

Although Ian’s presentation dealt specifically with development of UX portfolios, most of his insights apply to portfolios in general. Since many readers of this blog are students in our CMWEB program (with varying backgrounds), I will try to make these insights apply in a broader sense.

It is important to understand that your portfolio is an active form of communication and is a way to differentiate yourself. Keep in mind the audience for your portfolio is typically hiring managers and those in human resources. Their level of understanding of technology details will vary widely.

At best, you have 30 seconds of their time to make an impression. You want this to lead to a face to face interview. Essentially they will be asking two questions – Can they do the job? Do I want them to do the job?

You want to cover your core skills and your soft skills.

It is always a good idea to document your projects as you work on them. You may well want to include the back story. If you do decide to include a case study or two in your portfolio, focus on problem > action > result. Ask yourself “so what” repeatedly as you develop your portfolio.

Make certain you include your contact information on every page.

It is important to indicate the types of jobs you want to work on as well as those you don’t want to work on. After all, you need to make the most of the time you have on earth.

Tools and gadgets for research by Annette Priest

I liked Annette’s presentation as she presented the tools you need to take in terms of a UX safari. The most important tool you can have is your brain. Think in terms of goals and design challenges.

It is important to have quality tools. For example, consider using a camera instead of your smartphone to record images.  The optical zoom is better (and you may need to zoom). The Live Scribe tool was mentioned many times as a very useful tool.

I particularly liked this quote:

“Never underestimate the social engineering power of a clipboard.”

Additional gadgets to consider including involved those for image stabilization (think Gorilla Pod), battery backups, cleaners for lenses and so forth.

She also mentioned that one can use Techsmith Morae, but you can also use a Wii controller with Morae to make it even more useful.

Designing for happiness by Pamela Pavliscak

Considering all the little digital indignities we encounter every day, she came up with a global Internet misery index of 3 trillion. This also happens to be the number of trees estimated to be on the planet now. It appears the number of trees is decreasing and the misery index in increasing. I can certainly think of some sites which seem to add to the global Internet misery index. I bet you can too. Although technology is impacting our lives, it is not always for the good.

I liked her idea that we need to move from the disease model of design [where we treat symptoms] to the wellness model of design [where we treat the underlying causes].

She observed that when people leave a site feeling happy, they think that site is better than others. They also spend more time exploring that site. She backed these observations with specific data she has obtained.

There is a convergence happening these days and we need to think in much broader terms about design.

We are moving from friction-less design (think web page and mobile view of it are usable) to persuasive design to positive design. The latter is more conversational and vulnerable. There is social support and it seems more authentic. There are also more sources of data.

Designing your design team by Alberta Soranzo

I liked Alberta’s review of the holacracy concept. This included implications and effects it has had on various organizations.

She also reviewed how best to work with recruiters and freelancers (and when to employ them strategically).

She provided a number of tips to keep your team strong, flexible, and scalable.

Accessibility is usability by Patrick Fox

I like the quote Patrick started with:

“Accessibility is usability in the context of disability.”

He also discussed the return on investment on accessibilty. We need to think of this in terms of our customers, our organization, and our brand.

It is critically important to get ahead of accessibility, plan for it upfront and throughout your project.

He also reviewed the various forms of disability: cognitive, visual, motor, and aural. He reminded us there are over 60 million Americans with some form of disability (as you likely know, I am one – vision).

Patrick provided a number of practical tips and examples along with many reference websites for more information.

9 ways to guide people with design by Jennifer Tang

It is always a good idea to remember that the best new things use familiar patterns. We also need to keep in mind that the more we use something, the more will will like it. Some things do take time to get used to. One example mentioned was the pull down to refresh on the Twitter app some time ago. Now, we all take that for granted.

Comparing things is easier than appraising them. This is why we often see choices when we are shopping for items. Comparing 3 choices seems to be the sweet spot for most. If there are too many choices, we suffer from choice paralysis.

It is important to have a call to action – perhaps things are in limited supply. As a general rule, if something is limited, it has more perceived value.

We first judge a product by its appearance and then consider its content.

She also reviewed the Zeigarnik effect (where something unfinished nags at you).

UX is UI by Mike Atherton

Mike began with a review of how we got to today (in terms of web related technologies).

  • 1996 – webmaster
  • 1999 – new media teams
  • 2006 – Web 2.0
  • 2015 – mobile apps and so much fragmentation

Throughout all of this, there has been the user experience. It has just been bad by default.

Mike posed a question – what do we mean when we say UX? He reviewed the results and they are all over the map.

We must view UX as deliveriong (and enhancing upon) business metrics. The interface is the relationship between the cusotmer and the business. We must design the relationship.

Summary – As you may suspect, I could only touch on some of the highlights I gleaned from this conference. There were many more insights and thoughts and ideas I have to mull over in the coming weeks. I hope you found this synopsis useful. As always, I look forward to your comments.

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