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Summer of UX

By Jess Lewes

Business Development Director

Published:

Summer is my favourite time of year in this industry, as it is peak conference season. Each year, People for Research sponsor a range of user experience (UX) conferences and events and, as part of our sponsorship, I am lucky enough to attend!

In 2017 we sponsored Camp Digital, User Research London, Collaborate Bristol, and UX Bristol. We started by heading up to the northern tech scene in Manchester, then visiting London and finally covering our hometown of Bristol.

Camp Digital Manchester

This is the first year I have attended Camp Digital, which covers digital design and UX and offers a series of seminars and workshops to satisfy and broad audience. There were a couple of talks about team work, both how to “build a happy team” from Kate Greenstock, as well as using a team mentality to support digital transformation by Matt Jukes.

However, for me the highlight of this conference was the second keynote talk by Emer Coleman, currently Technology Engagement Lead at Co-op Digital. Emer told some personal stories that have led to her calling for change in the industry and asking each of the attendees to question our own relationships with technology. Comparing data and privacy in the modern digital world to attitudes towards privacy in Nazi Germany: if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

While it is still not possible to find an accurate definition for ‘right to privacy’ in an offline world, is it realistic to expect the legal community to know how to tackle this issue in a rapidly changing digital world. Check out the longer blog about our Camp Digital adventure here.

User Research London

User Research London was the first ever event dedicated to user research, and it was so successful that the 2018 event is already in the calendar. The predominant theme to emerge from this event is that “we are all humans designing for other humans”.

Dan Szuc and Jo Wong from Apogee, in Hong Kong, spoke about meaningful work, and how many of the principles that guide this work are (or should be) ground in humanity – show mutual respect, show gratitude. Read more about this on the Make Meaningful Work page, on Medium.

My talk for User Research London focused on how to put the user first when it comes to planning your research and testing, in opposition to focusing only in the design process. Making your research user-centred means considering whether the time, date, and location are appropriate for your user, among so many other things.

All of this came out of a piece of internal research reviewing the last five years in user recruitment, and the changes we have experienced as a result of the UX sector maturing. You can watch my talk below.

Collaborate Conference Bristol

Every year Collaborate, as may be obvious from the conference title, considers how we can improve our collaboration. This year talks included Anne Cooper, Chief Nurse at the NHS, who spoke about internal collaboration to support the major digital transformation our health service is going through. Lisa Campana, Head of Design at Moo.com, also spoke at the event, focusing on collaboration across teams to get everyone working towards the same goal.

Underpinning each talk was the theme of humanity, and taking the time to understand the needs of the people we collaborate with. The strongest message of the day, in my opinion, was shared by Hany Rizk, who shared a a video created by the project ‘Time Well Spent’ asking the “architects of our digital world” to work towards services that improve our lives without requiring us to be glued to a screen. The theory is this could enhance our human interactions. Of course, this is a big challenge.

UX Bristol

Our final event of the summer season was in our home city, a conference we have supported since its inception. We were very happy to see that one of the first workshops was focused on the user’s journey when taking part in user research or usability testing.

This workshop was ran by Ben Cubbon and Nic Price, the People Thinking duo. Together, Ben and Nic explored the steps a user goes through when participating in research or testing, and what researchers can do to consider their needs and provide them with the best user experience possible.

Team PFR have learnt a huge amount from the work Ben and Nic put in to the research behind the workshop, a lot of which is available in the slides from the workshop, which they have shared in the name of making their research open source. You can browse through their slides here.

Keep an eye on the PFR blog to find out more about this project, as PFR and People Thinking will keep working together to bring you more knowledge about the user’s journey.

UX Bristol ended with a series of lighting talks. I delivered one of them, this time about recruiting users for research on emerging technology, such as virtual or augmented reality. Most of the tips link back to the core idea in my talk at User Research London, all boiling down to the ultimate goal: always consider the user when planning your research.

In summary, consider the ethics of what you are trying to achieve from a data-related point of view; consider the human you are designing for and whether you can make the user research process more user-centred.

I am attending Bath Digital Festival and Interact London in October, so if you are planning to be at either of these events, please find me on Twitter and let me know!

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If you would like to find out more about our in-house participant recruitment service for user testing or market research get in touch on 0117 921 0008 or info@peopleforresearch.co.uk.

jess lewesAbout the author: Jess Lewes is passionate about making research user-centred, and she is a source of knowledge for how to approach the recruitment process to get the best results for your UX research and testing. Jess is available to speak at your event, conference or company workshop.

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 leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.

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