UX Australia ’09 report: Day 1

Set at the modern Hotel Realm in Australia’s capital city, UX Australia kicked off with nearly 180 UX professionals ranging from game design to usability in attendence. Here is our report of day 1.

Befitting a UX (rather than IA or IxD) conference, the talks balanced practicality and detail with a sense of the overall picture – a recurring theme in talks was the need to recognise different stakeholders, and communicate the values of user experience.

Hotel Fail (Source: @viorol via Twitpic)

Hotel Fail (Source: @viorol via Twitpic)

UXers also put their money where their mouths were about about UX in the real world as attendees duly noted experience design fails in the otherwise stunning venue the Hotel Realm. People also happily swapped UX role cards as provided in the swag bag by Symplicit.

Alex Wright – Meet Your Ancestors

After a mind-bending and inspiring keynote from New York Times UX Director and author Alex Wright, the day split into dual streams of talks.

Keynote: “Meet Your Ancestors” by Alex Wright was a 1 1/2 hour gallop through the history of user experience via ancient taxonomies, 16th century memory theatre, and precursors to the internet. The sheer breadth and depth of information presented was a head-spin for the audience, most of whom will now be searching out his book Glut.

Chris Khalil – The New Digital Ethnographer’s Toolkit

This was a detailed and pragmatic guide to using digital tools such as Twitter and blogging. Using a case study of research for Moshtix, Kahlil stepped through the process an ethnography-lite technique of “cultural probes” with digital tools: getting users (he suggested using Ethnio), setting them up for a weeks’ worth of testing (using tumblr as a tool for tracking their digital footprint), and then post-probe interviews. Tips included setting up the tools with the user so that they can immediately start, and most importantly talking through their digital footprint in the end interview. Also worth noting was the post-probe analysis – for the case study Khalil produced a 3m wide mental model! For that process he suggested grounded theory and using a tool such as MaxQDA.

Ben Kraal – Visualisations of Video: Nursing Activity and Expertise

As well as giving “more information about leg ulcers than you’ll ever need to know”, Kraal stepped through how visualising video data can provide an easy way to access and make sense of otherwise dense data.

Example of visualising time as a diagram

Example of visualising time as a diagram

His examples of nurses bandaging leg ulcers also showed a way to externalise tacit knowledge in a way that participants are able to understand and comment on (nurses were excited to be able to see the processes of how they work at a glance). For more on the project, check out Krall’s blog or look at the OZCHI paper.

Steve Baty – Deconstructing Analysis Techniques

“Our” Steve gave a presentation on his article of the same name. Baty suggested a that analysis techniques can be broken down into deconstructing, manipulating, transformation, summarisation, aggregation, generalisation, abstracting, interpretation, synthesis, reflection and visualisation.

Rob Sherer’s – Data Driven Design Decisions

Sherer started wtih Joshua Porter’s quote that “while aesthetics are subjective, behaviour is not”, and then showed how the seek.com.au website had used analytics and testing to make design decisions. In the process of changing an email icon, making it a button dropped sign in by 40%, changing it to an email icon increased it by 47%, and adding “64 pixels of pink” on the top increased signup again by 27%! (Very Amazon million-dollar button).

Gary Barber – The Ultimate UX Tool

Barber provided a hilarious mocku-mercial of “the ultimate UX tool”, including extras such as “reusable plastic personas”, “perfect test participants”, and “wireframing pliers and wire” – “all for 99c!” (The “Ultimate UX Tool”? A pencil.)

Joel Flom – Ka-Chunk! When Customer Experience Design Fails and How To Avoid It

Flom emphasised the need to understand business as well as the customer and implementation in UX in a fast paced talk. Pointing out Jared Spool’s Maturity Model, he reminded the audience of Eric Weiss’s point that “we don’t want interaction. We want to minimise our interactions”, and that in some cases, customers aren’t on a journey (They don’t view it as an eco-system, Often only view it as a means to an end, They are not speaking meaning)

Penny Hagen and Michelle Gilmore – Emerging a User Experience Strategy: people, pencils and post-its

In this presentation Hagen and Gilmore used beautiful hand drawn diagrams to present a case study of working with the University of New South Wales. Key terms they used were shaping a project: (helping the client to say “We are changing our objective as we understand what it means for the user”), creating user stories, creating user pathways and finally scenarios to aid with decision making. Read more about their subject in their User Stories article.

Fred Randell – Experience Visions: A Case Study

Fred Randell talked about his work with Telstra Transformation and the challenges of creating a 5 year experience strategy: their strategies have included creating configurable modules and using scenarios early on. (His presentation is also worth mining for all best movie quotes you can relate to UX).

All up, it was a great day with a range of topics and discussion. Report back on day two tomorrow.

Want to stay up to date? See the #uxaustralia tweets

Top image by stage 88

Vicky Teinaki

An England-based Kiwi, Vicky is doing a PhD at Northumbria University into how designers can better talk about touch and products. When not researching or keeping Johnny Holland running, she does the odd bit of web development, pretends her TV licence money goes only to Steven Moffatt shows, and tweets prolifically about all of the above as @vickytnz.

4 comments on this article

  1. Pingback: DotNetShoutout

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  3. As good as “MixGDA” sounds (rather like a cocktail!) the analysis software Chris Khalil mentioned was “MaxQDA” 🙂

  4. Vicky Teinaki on

    @Patrick *blush* thanks for that – changed to the correct name.