UXcampAMS took place this past weekend in Amsterdam – here’s what I saw and learned there.
Why did I want to attend it?
As always, great people, great networking, interesting talks and workshops, tons of inspiration! Really helps to get perspective on my work + keep up with trends and industry standards. Plus this year I had an extra agenda to promote Red Hat and Fedora by giving a talk and distributing some swag.
City and venue
UXcampAMS took place in Amsterdam (of course) on April 22, 2017. Venue was Congrescentrum, somewhere on the upper floor. I did have a bit of a trouble getting into the building, as one has to press a very discreet button with something written in Dutch next to it 😉 But otherwise it was pretty great, 5 rooms of various sizes for talks and workshops, an area to hang out and talk with sponsor booths set up + cafeteria with coffee (very important for a Saturday morning!).
Plan of the day
As all UX Camps, this one was a BarCamp – meaning no pre-scheduled talks, just an outline of the agenda. So after registration and an introduction we had a “Madness Session” – people who wanted to present or have a workshop / discussion got up, filled in cards and pitched their proposals in 30 second time slots. Audience voted on the talks they’d like to attend by raising hands. Here’s a video to give you an idea:
In a short break afterwards organizers put together a schedule, in which I was !surprise surprise! first:
I did the same talk as at ProfsoUX in Russian the week before, so this time I translated it to English. These are the slides at SlidesShare. So, again, I talked about open source and design, including both graphic and UX stuff, tools and processes and how and why to get started, mostly focusing on work of the Fedora Design Team. The attendance was pretty good, many people knew Red Hat and Fedora, we had a lovely discussion after the talk. I really hope I inspired some people to contribute or try open source tools.
Other talks I attended
Transforming Marktplaats by Jeroen Mulder
Jeroen talked about Marktplaats and their journey through the years, beliefs to transform Marktplaats into a design-led, customer-centric organization; how they started as a desktop environment and now with the rest of the world are quickly moving towards mobile (>45% of their users). He also talked about their ‘big hairy audacious dreams’ aka BHAG: Bought and sold in 5 minutes. What they found out: the world has changed a lot since 1999, companies now design experiences and care about their users from start to finish. Some of the principles they came up with:
- outside – in
- strategic design
- outcome over output
- discover and fail fast (go through build-measure-learn cycle as quickly as possible)
Jeroen also talked about building a UX team and how we need to ‘get out of the deliverables business’ and own the entire process: Analysis and research → Vision, strategy and concept (not optional!) → prototype and validate (and back to analysis) → build and repeat!
Involving everybody is key, as well as reminding PMs, QA, devs, designers, etc that we all have the same goal. Jeroen specifically underlined the importance of a good relationship between designers and PMs. It all starts with culture and is a journey.
UPD slides linklink
Magdalena works in a Polish agency called Polidea, and as an agency they bring in new clients every couple of months. Being a designer, she is in constant contact with them and often has to communicate remotely, which as we know, poses some challenges on communication effectiveness. So she wanted to give some tips how to overcome communication problems and have a discussion after.
- hold kick-off workshops
- make the design process clear for the client
- express yourself with talkative examples
- support message with video chat and visuals
- teamwork makes dreams come true
Again, she pointed out the importance of involving everybody in the design process and constantly reminding them, that we are working towards the common goal. It can start at the kick-off meeting, where among other activities team can look at things that will make the project successful or will make it fail.
She also suggested having all files easily accessible for everybody – for example, a single doc on google docs + photos of sketches.
Designing a UX portfolio by Ian Fenn
Ian talked about the importance of having a portfolio and gave us an introduction to the book he’s writing for O’Reilly. One can buy early release right now, but be aware that that means the book is not yet finished, and you’ll get chapters as they are written. A couple of good pointers from Ian:
- the purpose of a portfolio is to get a face-to-face interview
- the recruiters have limited knowledge of UX and very little time, and will spend ~30 sec per resume
- UX portfolios are often misunderstood: as Jared Spool states, “ A great portfolio is a collection of the stories that describe your best work” and not a collection of deliverables.
- so one might want to include case studies (no more than 3 pages each):
- what you did
- key tools and deliverables
- the results
- images should support and enhance the written narrative
- aesthetic affects hiring managers, too
- language is key, so be short and on the point, no jargon or scientific words. One of the most interesting tips, which goes for any sort of writing: read what you write out loud
- and seek feedback from the right people
Brand in UX workshop by Flin Nortier and Ramon Schreuder
After that I attended a workshop about brand and user experience. Flin and Ramon told us about the importance of expressing brand values through interaction design, and that it will make the brand come alive. They defined brand as an intangible sum of product attributes (logo, perception, tagline, gut feeling, etc) and we tried to express brand values through interface and communication with ‘clients’.
Keynote: How to make UX count? by Barbara Koop
At the end of the day we attended a keynote about making UX count and subsequently becoming a superhero. Barbara’s main message was: data is an outcome, and we can’t drive outcomes. When we measure UX in any way, we get a lot of data, which doesn’t tell us much, so we need to get behind the data. Barbara introduced the W model of data-driven learning:
She also advised to define which behaviors drive soft KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and track those, as well as bundle predictors to an impact factor for each KPI, so we can see growth and success for each goal. Some of the soft KPI’a are: loyalty, brand perception, customer experience, conversion rate, etc.
Actionable and useful stuff
The main messages of the conference for me turned out to be:
- teamwork is key, so have everyone involved from the very start
- go through development and iteration process quickly, evaluate and repeat
- remind people we are working towards the same goals (if necessary)
- track things that need tracking and be smart about it
I had an amazing time at the UXcamp in Amsterdam, met some very interesting people and attended great talks. As soon as slides are online, I’ll update my post. Thank you, everybody,, who organized it and took part in it, see you all next year? 🙂