NUX5 conference

October 21, 2016 10:29 am

NUX5 conference

Six of the team at SimpleUsability attended #NUX5 on Friday 7th October at the Northern College of Music in Manchester, which featured seven inspirational speakers from around the world sharing a variety of different UX topics.

Instead of the usual note-taking, SimpleUsability decided to try a more creative approach to capture the key features of each talk: Sketchnoting. Sketchnoting involves taking notes in a visual form that helps bring the notes to life, and helps people to remember the talk afterwards. Sketchnotes are also fun to share. In this article we share our Sketchnotes that were taken at NUX5, with key summarised points to explain the take away message from each talk.

Boon Sheridan, opening keynote

The keynote speaker, Boon Sheridan, kicked off the day on his talk regarding ‘Rules, Hunches & Coinflips’ with a story about a cat (extra bonus for all the cat lovers in the audience!), explaining even though new technology has arrived, an old technique still stays true. Rose shares her Sketchnotes from Boon’s talk.

Boon sketchnoteTake away points:

  • Best practice changes over time so there are many best practices to choose from. Searching for a ‘Single best practice’ is an impossible task, it is better to identify the project requirements and work around that.
  • Even though things do change with time, interviews and research stay the same.
  • If we are uncertain of things (Coin flips) then we need to test them!

Technology has changed a lot but doing user research and carrying out interviews has not.”

 “For the love of wicked problems”

Next up was Lola Oyelayo, presenting her talk: ‘For the love of wicked problems’. She explained the characteristics of a wicked problem and gave examples of wickeLola Oyelayo sketchnoted problems in UX. She said we need to address future problems, like digital inequality and left us with some tips to tackle wicked problems, such as completing a product runway with stakeholders and creating system journey maps. Rebecca shares her Sketchnotes from Lola’s talk.

Take away points:

  • A Wicked problem is a problem that is difficult to solve, as it resists a solution.
  • The Wicked Digital Quartet includes: legacy technology, digital technology literacy, Finance and Agile methodology.
  • Every wicked problem is a symptom of another and almost no one has the luck to build a solution from scratch, so we will always be dealing with wicked problems.
  • There is no template to follow when tackling a wicked problem, so designers attempting to solve wicked problems must be fully responsible for their actions.

Understand the contextual constraints you have to design with.”

Karina van Schaardenburg “Mixed methods abroad: A user study”

Karina van Schaardenburg talked us through the techniques and challenges of carrying out user research in other countries, in her talk, ‘Mixing methods abroad: A case study’. Foursquare were aware that their app was very popular in Turkey and that these users had different needs and expectations to users in the U.S. Their challenge was to design the best research methods to study their audience abroad and learn how to provide a strong foundation for their Turkey market moving forwards. Amy shares her Sketchnotes from Karina’s talk.

Karina van Schaardenburg sketchnoteTake away points:

  • Great research consists of finding the right people to talk to and listening to them completely.
  • Using a mix of methodologies can be beneficial for large projects when you need to collect different kinds of data and help steer the direction of the next stage of testing.
  • Never stop learning about your product and your users by putting in place opportunities for gaining regular feedback wherever people use your product; at home and abroad.

Learn to listen completely.”

Glenn A. Gustitus “Security and User Experience”

Glenn A. Gustitus began his talk on ‘Security and User Experience’ by explaining how security and UX are at odds with one another and the problems that follow. He gave examples of how easy it might be to break security questions, especially on social media and what needs to be considered in order to address these problems. Rose shares her Sketchnotes from Glenn’s talk.

Glenn A. Gustitus sketchnote

Take away points:

  • It is important to establish a common language between developers and users to solve security problems, as this would enable a greater understanding of how to interact with the product.
  • The differences between authentication and authorization are often overlooked and we need to be aware of these differences. If we focus on multifactor authentication, these questions would address information about what the user knows, what they have and who they are.
  • Cultural differences can be tackled by sharing ideas, understanding the limitations and then building relationships.

If you change a user’s flow you are always adding complexity even if the new solution is less complex.”

Sophie Dennis The Art of Things Not Done”

After lunch, Sophie Dennis spoke about ‘The Art of Things Not Done’, introducing the iron triangle which links time and cost, scope and quality. This relates to the debate around complexity vs. usability, thinking about where to compromise, as it is impossible to focus on all elements of the triangle. For example, if you want to increase the quality of the research then you have to also increase the cost. Sophie explained the relevance of the Kano model for designers and introduced the peak-end rule, which explains that people remember the best bits, worst bits and end of their journey. She stated to make rapid improvements in experience, focus on the pain points to remove the worst bits. Fern shares her Sketchnotes from Sophie’s talk.

Sophie Dennis sketchnoteTake away points:

  • When designing a product or feature, start with your user needs not the business needs.
  • Use the Kano model to meet user’s basic expectations, and try to include something to generate excitement.
  • People remember the best bits, worst bits and the end of their experience. The end of a journey does not need to be amazing but should always end well enough.

Sometimes not having a feature is better than having a bad one.”

Graham Odds “Let’s have a conversation”

Graham Odds talk ‘Let’s have a conversation’ discussed how the implementation of Chat bots into messaging apps can help reach your users directly, rather than relying on them to download your app. Research shows users interact with just 27 unique apps per month, and that they actually care about far fewer apps over time. Graham stressed that the power of convenience should never be underestimated. Katharine shares her Sketchnotes from Graham’s talk.

Graham Odds sketchnoteTake away points:

  • Instead of expecting your users to come to you, you should go to them, through the apps they are already using.
  • A conversation is the informal exchange of thoughts, information and intent.
  • Smart threading is the new way to interact with your users.

The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way.”

Henny Swan, closing keynote “The Velvet Rope”

To end the day, the closing keynote speaker, Henny Swan spoke about ‘The Velvet Rope’ explaining the importance of accessibility and how user experience should consider ALL users, including those with disabilities. She explained it does not matter how much you ignore something or try and cover it up, that there will always be users who struggle with the user experience, therefore designing with everyone in mind and putting people first will cover all user experiences. Rose shares her Sketchnotes from Henny’s talk.

Henny Swan sketchnote

Take away points:

  • Accessibility issues are in fact usability issues. If something isn’t usable it is likely to not be accessible either, therefore we need to bring accessible user experience into design ideas.
  • Accessibility guidelines are a framework and not stand alone.
  • Accessibility user experience principles include: people first, equivalence, value, consistency, control and choice.

Stop thinking about accessibility as a constraint and start to think of it as an opportunity and innovative.”

Take away

The points raised by the six speakers at NUX5 certainly left food for thought amongst the SimpleUsability team. We feel many of the key points addressed apply to our ethics and methodology here at SimpleUsability. In particular, taken from Karina’s talk, we believe in finding the right people to take part in user research and then listening completely to our users. This is demonstrated in our methodology of retrospective think aloud: asking users’ open questions whilst playing back their eye tracking recording, as this enables us to listen completely and gain user insight.

We also acknowledge the importance of accessibility research highlighted by Henny; Observing users with a range of disabilities to understand how they rely on their assistive technology to help them interact with websites, and how websites can be adapted to match their user needs.

Similarly, we agree with Boon when he states the importance of usability testing, because if it’s not tested with users, how do you know it works? We look forward to another set of inspirational talks at NUX6!