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A holistic look at Interact Conference 2017

By Jess Lewes

Business Development Director


This was my first experience of Interact, a conference run by Nomensa that many people have recommended to me over the years. The venue was the spectacular British Museum, a very apt setting for some very big thinking.

Dan Klyn was the first speaker of the day, and his talk was just incredible, so much so I wasn’t sure I had space left in my conscious mind for more. Dan has been generous enough to share his slides, which I would highly recommend taking a look at as my brief summary will not do his talk justice.

What I took away from Dan’s talk at Interact London was how the common team set up in many organisations with a focus on digital, of having product teams and leads to conducting user research and testing on just a specific aspect of an overall service. He said it was like building a cow, with different teams working on different cuts.

A common mantra for UXers: YOU ARE NOT YOUR USER

Working in this way can be like shining a spot light on a specific thing, which can have its benefits. But benefits can also be gained from switching on a flood light and taking a more holistic approach.

Something that was inherent in the second talk by Ruby Steel, Senior Design Strategist at Smart Design. Ruby talked about a couple of projects, and then went on to introduce us to a design collective that have come together to work on a service called Mycarematters. A service created by Zoe Harris following her personal observation of the medical care her husband received as a dementia sufferer.

The whole purpose driving this service is to give healthcare workers the information they need to work more holistically, considering the person as a whole human and not just their condition.

interact london conference holistic ux

Participant recruitment must often take a similar approach, considering that a person’s behaviour and action can be affected by a situation or experience. As a result, one cannot rely on basic demographic information about a participant and assume they are relevant for the kind of rich research being conducted by leading UX professionals.

Another interesting take away from psychologist Kate Nightingale, who explained that some behaviours are based on our evolutionary developments and are so ingrained that they transcend modern cultural differences. What struck me was the level of research that has been conducted in order to allow companies to manipulate us all in to buying and consuming more.

The afternoon at Interact London provided the appropriate reality check that there needs to be some ethics in the behaviours of designers. Sam Munton from Nomensa asked ‘do we need a code of conduct?’

interact london conference holistic ux

The aim of a code of conduct would be to ensure companies aren’t given the tools to abuse data, through the ‘things’ that we are all creating. Suggestions Sam shared that came out of a number of local meetups included: a universal opt-out, curate through prioritisation not deletion, transparency by default.

The final talk of the day at Interact delivered by Ann Longley, Digital Transformation Consultant and Founder of Something New Together, was a perfect follow on. Ann asked if design can save the world, and then went on to show some tangible examples that shows it can and shows why it needs saving. Again asking along the way about ethics, and humanity, and trust.

Examples of companies who seem to genuinely care about their user base, and developing a strong culture that is based on feedback and community support were represented at the even too: Vuokko Aro from Monzo, and Phu Ly from Deliveroo.

If you would like to talk about how to make your research more user-centred, how GDPR will impact your research, or you have an interest in a company with the ability to holistically screen participants get in touch with me today.

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jess lewesAbout the author: Jess Lewes is the Director of Projects at People for Research, and is passionate about supporting the UX and market research community with high quality recruitment. She is also a source of knowledge for best practice in participant recruitment.

About People for Research: We recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.

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