Hi Interactive @ UXLX 2018

João Prior


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This week, Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, hosted a new edition of UXLX, one of the most important usability conferences in the world. This ninth edition took place between the 22nd until the 25th of may, at the FIL Meeting Center.

What happens in a usability conference such as UXLX? A sharing of knowledge, creativity and techniques through workshops, conferences, meetings and long awaited talks from experts. This year’s keynote speakers included Scott Berkun, Dan Brown, Alastair Sommerville, among many other professionals from the UX world.

Hi Interactive @ UXLX, May 24

Hi Interactive was present during the third day of the event, dedicated to talks and keynotes. The third day of the conference was packed with people from more than 40 countries. The first talk was from Richard Banfield, focused on“Confusion, Stupidity and Shame: A Disturbing Tale of Personal Growth in Four Parts”. This interesting conversation was based on how we deal with failing, projects for example, and how we deal with embarrassing moments.

An important question was asked: why do we forget that failures are opportunities to grow? As children, we fell, got up and kept trying to master the task at hands. Where did that go as adults? Richard Banfield highlighted that both personal and professional lives are not defined by the failures, but by the emotional intelligence to stand up and keep trying.

Richard Banfield talk
Richard Banfield's participation (source)

Presumptions and prejudice need to be set aside and corporations need to promote the fact that success is not a single-handed event, the goal is making other people successful.

After this interesting talk, something more technical. Boon Sheridan came to Lisbon to talk Augmented Reality. Remember the Pokémon Go fever from two years ago? Even though it is still around, it faded from the user’s attention. What happened to that example of promise from Augmented Reality?

The fact is that AR and VR (virtual reality) seem to be everywhere we turn since the 80s, and those tools are present in daily life events and places, not just in gaming apps. Aiport apps, sketch apps are some of those examples, while users do need to understand the different kinds of interaction it allows. Sheridan adamantly highlighted aspects to consider while building such an app.

After the coffee break, Jamie Levy, author of UX Strategy, used a healthcare industry business case to explain how she applied digital transformation strategy to drive innovative software development and the organizational culture shift if entails. She focused some talking point on how important it is to taking out the pain points in the user experience, how to build the way from A to B and everything in between. It is a story: with a beginning, middle and end, and the beginning should be the problem, when the fundamental questions needs to be answered.

UXUL stage detail
Detail on the stage of UXLX 2018

The morning of UXLX continued with Jess McMullin and “Speaking CEO: Business Fluency for Designers”. It’s so important to understand the power of language in business, as well it is to translate business directions to clear design hypothesis. Before lunch, Kim Goodwin, responsible for UX at PatientsLikeMe, shared values and explained the thin line that separates what is legal, ethical and acceptable. She highlighted how the aspects that make a user experience good or bad is not the pixels, content or css, but the everyday experiences actually lived by clients. She cited the recent United Airlines events from past months on the treatment of passengers and animals, even though they have excellent techniques applied to their platforms.

The talks and keynotes continued with Chris Risdon, focused of shaping behavior by design. Several points were discussed and left for reflection: in what level are we influencing behavior? How can people navigate the environment, how can they interact with it? Currently, the information is more about people using the technology, rather that about the technology itself. There is a much closer relationship between users and products and services, and that has high stakes on influence and persuasion.

Cyd Harrell, user research consultant in the USA, came to UXLX to discuss UX in service. How can designers make the world a better place through UX? Just by making amazing products? UX has a key role and responsibility for the work of public institutions and services that affect millions of people. Public institutions need to have respect for people’s time, dignity and needs. Quite an inspiring talk.

IA Lenses, what do you think about this? The speaker Dan Brown brought this topic to UXLX. Something that he struggled with and questioned himself about. Each lens is a question set at the beginning of projects, it’s a way to look at something. How can we apply these lenses to different IA challenges? He connected information architecture to designing structures for digital products.

IA lenses in UX
IA lenses: how to include ethics?

Next up, “Design and The Importance of Imaginaries” by Dan Lockton. He explored how design research techniques can offer new perspectives on exploring different imaginaries, and their importance. Basically, using design methods to understand how people collect and process that same understanding. People act based on stories/fictional facts that aren’t actually true but it’s part of their imaginary, they grew up with those. The way people think about something affects how they interact with it.

The day ended with author and former Microsoft and Wordpress.com UX team leader Scott Berkun, discussing possibilities. How can designers know what ideas work and how others do not? A provocative talk, full of fun facts and designing history, to celebrate another edition of UXLX.


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