NUX7 – a summary of the day

October 25, 2018 4:20 pm

NUX7 – a summary of the day



Last week the annual NUX conference took place at its new home in the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. One of our lead UX practitioners, Natalie Crook, was lucky enough to attend and has shared the highlights and takeaways from the day in this article.

It’s Complicated – Designing in The Age of Emergence

Complex = unknown unknowns and emergent practice, Complicated = known unknowns and good practice, Chaotic = unknowable unknowns and novel practice and Obvious = known knowns and good practice

The day started with the opening keynote talk with Christina Wodtke. She presented the cynefin framework as a tool to help when it comes to decision making within the design and development process.

Christina used the framework to remind us that instead of sticking within our design teams we should be branching out to involve as many people as possible; when we do this, we are able to remove ourselves from our little design bubbles and broaden our knowledge through crowdsourcing.

How to Re-Shape Projects (without antagonising people)

Asking questions of requirements - who is "we"? what are users actually trying to do? why now? why this? why do users need this? what does this allow us to do?

Next up was Kate Tarling who focused on how we can get to the bottom of an ambiguous client brief with approaches to understand what is actually being asked. It is important that we are able to untangle the purpose and context of work to anticipate challenges and confusion.

Great Workshops, Great Teams

After a quick refreshment-break, we were back in our seats and ready for the next talk by Alison Coward. Alison’s talk was based on how to facilitate great workshops by creating a safe and positive space where everyone feels comfortable to get involved and voice their opinion.

A top tip from Alison was to create space for productive conflicts allowing members within a team to challenge each other’s ideas and leaving time for individual thinking.

10 Easy Ways to Irritate Your Design Team

Good agile happens when we work together and have research as part of that process

As we approached lunch, we were distracted from our grumbling bellies by the next speaker, Jane Austin. Jane kept our minds occupied with a great talk on how to get the best out of your design team.

She shared 10 ways designers can be irritated by those outside of the business design team and how this can lead to an unsuccessful design process. The solution, Jane argued, was the underlying theme on the day that we must work together and share our knowledge whether you are a designer, developer, researcher or business person.

Everything Connected

Japanese character meaning beginners mind

Up next was Christopher Murphy. He shared some of his personal stories around risks he has taken throughout his career and how by taking risks we can learn that sometimes it is ok to break the rules.

Christopher introduced us to the word ‘Shoshin’ which origins from Zen Buddhism meaning a “beginner’s mind.” It refers to having a level of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would. This being something we could all benefit from, as we should never assume we know everything and should always be open to learning more from those around us.

Good Intentions and Bad Actors: Unleashing Our True Design Superpowers

We spend so much time thinking about our design process, so how is it that we aren't really thinking about the impact we have?

Moving into the afternoon the next talk was by Lisa DeBettencourt . Lisa focused on the ethics of UX and how we as designers and researchers have a responsibility when it comes to the products we create.

The Designer is Present

Empathy fuels connection - Sympathy fuels disconnection

The closing keynote talk was by Steve Portigal. Steve discussed how mindfulness has taken over Silicone Valley with some of the biggest tech companies embracing this process to understand what is happening in the present moment.

Steve highlighted the difference between empathy and sympathy and how we must be able to differentiate between the two when it comes to user research. Empathy is essential within user research as it allows us to take the perspective of another person as if it was the truth, refrain from judgement, recognising emotion from other people and make ourselves able to communicate that.

And then for the networking…

The day finished with drinks, catching up with friends within the industry and a very happy head full of inspiring thoughts from the day to take back to the business. Having reflected on the day I would recommend looking up each of the speakers from this year’s NUX for some promising and thought-provoking insights into the industry.