UXcampNL16 trip report

UXcampNL is an unconference born from the desire to bring together the industry and academic communities to share knowledge in an open environment.

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This past Saturday, September 24, I was lucky to attend on of the many UXcamps (Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Copenhagen) held in Europe – UXcamp.NL in Eindhoven.

Why did I want to attend it?

  • It was the first and closest UX event I was able to find.
  • Share my experience and learn from field specialists.
  • I’m a bit isolated here in Brno, where most of the people are engineers and programmers – it was a great chance to meet the community.
  • To tell people about open source and Red Hat.

City and venue.

Eindhoven is a medium-sized city pretty close to Brno – there is even a cheap and short (hour and a half) Wizzair flight straight from Brno to Eindhoven! The city itself seemed to me very modern and comfortable to live in, with a lot of bike lanes and bikers, of course.

The conference itself was held in the Designhuis, which was pretty much perfect for this kind of event – very bright and spacey, in the city centre and next to Van Abbe Museum.

Plan for the day.

The event being an unconference, there was no schedule prior to the start. So registration opened at 9 am, and people who wanted to give a talk were given a card at the entrance, where we filled in our names, talk title, twitter handle and whether it’s supposed to be a talk or a discussion. Plus there were pre-scheduled workshops, which people signed up for in advance.

At 10 am we had Introduction & pitching. After a brief hello from the organizers every participant (speaker) was given 30 seconds to pitch their talk. As we pitched, organizers arranged our cards on the wall into 4 separate tracks.

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I was put first in my track – at 11, and was lucky to have the rest of the day ‘free’ for enjoying the talks and workshops.

At 4 pm a panel discussion was scheduled, with awards and drinks afterwards.

Talks and workshops.

11 am: My talk was first in the day, so at 11 I went to Tower room to tell people about introverts and user research. Here are my slides. The turnout was pretty good, I got a good crowd of introverts and extroverts; and after I was finished with the talk we went on to have a longish Q&A session. It was very interesting to talk e.g. to introverts pretending to be extroverts, or extroverts struggling to lead a team of introverts and not over-manage them to the point of team pushing back.

12:00: for the 2nd talk I stayed in the same room to listen to Den Tserkovnyi, UX Design Lead at StudyPortals, talk about Agile and how to remain sane. He shared his slides with everybody, too. You can check them out here. From what I gathered from this talk, Den used to be Scrum master, and is pretty comfortable with agile methodology. He and his team run design sprints, and include all of the stakeholders in the process. Conveniently they all work in the same building, so there’s a lot of team work with huge pieces of paper and post-it notes 😉 I talked to Den afterwards and we agreed to exchange tips on how to involve everybody in the design process + organize it intercontinentally. He mentioned Google Ventures as an example, who run the sprints as a five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers. They get everybody to work in 1 room for a week, and “shortcut the endless-debate cycle and compress months of time into a single week.

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13:45: After lunch I went on to a talk about accessible design given by Dean Birkett, Sr. UX Designer at AssistiveWare. His slides are here.

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It really made me very happy that people are designing for accessibility in real life and in web. Dean talked about what accessible design is, how to do it and how to sell it in organization you are working for. There are 4 primary considerations: visual, hearing, motor and cognitive. Ideally you should think about all of them, when designing a product.  This quote really makes you think:

“There are no disabled people. We are all just temporarily abled.” Henry Viscardi

I think Dean is doing amazing work, and more people should be thinking about accessibility and testing for it when designing things.

14:45: I signed up for a sketching workshop lead by Frank van de Ven, Senior consultant at Deloitte Digital. Frank gave an introduction about what sketching is and why it’s helpful in our work; here are his slides. And then we went on to practice; with his helpful guidance and tips on how to make better sketches and implement complex ideas.

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One of the major takeaways was the 3 seconds, 30 seconds, 3 minutes rule. It is nicely explained here. Frank talked about sketching for service design and user storyboards, but his tips can be applied as well to any kind of sketching, for example, sketchnotes. He also talked a little bit about service design, which is supposedly the next big thing in UX design.

The next big thing in design: UX design trends of 2017

All in all it was a great workshop, but it could have been longer; we didn’t get to do all the activities Frank had planned.

Summary and what I got out of it.

I got to meet and connect with a lot of wonderful people and specialists in various fields of UX from all over the world. Didn’t quite expect so many psychologists among them. There was also a Panel discussion at the end, with UX specialists answering questions from the audience and talking about bridging the gap between academia and business, and all of us working together + questions about their work processes and experience.

During the event people could vote for best talks, so that the best speakers could win prizes from the sponsors (Sketch, Jet Brains and Tesla Amazing). Results were announced after the Panel; my talk was voted second best and 1st place was awarded to UX & robotics: bridging the gap by Nina @METiger.

After that we had a quick celebration with drinks provided by organizers, and it was over! I would be glad if it was couple days longer; also I’ve heard stories all day about UXcamp Berlin, which as far as I understand is 2 days long with something like 10 tracks. The quality of talks in Eindhoven was really good, wish I could have attended them all.

I have now a much better understanding of the UX trends and situation in Europe, as well as many valuable connections. TODO for next time I attend this kind of event is to make business cards; for now I had to improvise and use Tesla paper from the goodie bag for exchanging contacts.

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UXcampNL16 trip report

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