UXCampAMS17 Trip Report

UXcampAMS took place this past weekend in Amsterdam – here’s what I saw and learned there.

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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:

uxcampams17 schedule

My talk

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
  • cross-functional
  • 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

5 remote communication tips for designers by Magdalena Rydiger

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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.

5 tips:

  1. hold kick-off workshops
  2. make the design process clear for the client
  3. express yourself with talkative examples
  4. support message with video chat and visuals
  5. 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):
    • brief
    • 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:

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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? 🙂

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UXCampAMS17 Trip Report

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.

UXcampNL16 trip report