UXLX report: day 2

UX Lisbon

Three day conference happening in the lovely Lisbon Portugal. The 2012 event will take place from 16 to 18 May.

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Day 2 of UX Lisbon included presentations on seduction, creative uses of Twitter, and the secret sauce of design.

Sarah Morris: Design for Seduction

Having missed the morning workshop because I needed time to work on my own workshop for later in the afternoon so that meant my first session of day-two would be Sarah Morris’s 20-minute talk on “Seduction Design”.

Sarah said that she learned a lot of what she was going to tell us from her reading of “Casanova,” the womanizer who would seduce women just to leave them when he got bored. Here’s here take of what she called his 3 acts:

  1. Find an attractive woman w/ a problem he an solve & have her become grateful.
  2. She succumbs to his charms.
  3. He gets bored and leaves her.

She called him the first UX Designer if only we can change act three.

She then outlined 6 points for designing for seduction:

  1. Invest quality time into your relationships.
    This boiled down to a touch strategy. Discover where and when others will touch your content and be sure that they know it is yours.
  2. Security & comfort: Be sure to make your relationships feel secure and comfortable.
  3. Balance dependence and independence by discovering the sweet spot between undivided attention vs. continuous partial attention and snacking  vs. binging.
  4. Be sure to reassure your relationships how lucky THEY are to be with you.”
  5. Be sure to actively listen and respond when appropriate
  6. Make the extra effort.

Sarah has a very particular angle in her talk which didn’t really become fully apparent until she started talking about her own work as part of an advertising centric user experience agency. So she then talks about how to be more effective as a UX designer in the environment of the advertising agency.

  • Huddle often to align ideas.
  • Have a creative brief that includes the functional, the user scenarios and the experience planning.
  • Continuously learn from other disciplines.
  • Merge your understanding of UX principles with the concepts of trending.
  • Great design is polygamous and not monogamous. Work with others.

Panu Korhonen: Interaction Design Leadership Lessons Learned

Automated and synchronised tweets

Out of the 3 20-minute presentations I saw this was the most succinct once it got going. Further, it had a feature that I’ve never seen before. Panu for each slide had a tweet sent at that moment that had the explanation for the otherwise curt slide. As a note taker this was really great. It also made for really retweetable content.

His experience where he got these lessons comes from years of design management while he was at Nokia working on projects like the S60 operating system. He broke down his talk into 3 categories: Design, Process and People. This talk ended up being a great talk for designers and managers a like.

Design

  • “In the beginning, write down short and clear design drivers”
  • “When directing design, you don’t want the design that you ask for. “
  • Pick the battles that lead to the designs that are most relevant for the user.
  • Stay too near and you’ll bore the audience. Go too far and you’ll alienate the audience.

Process

  • Create first concept in a small team. Then start splitting the work. As a design leader your focus will move to the boundaries between teams.
  • Milestones are good
  • Design something I know will work (then move on)
  • Get basic designs approved first. When you have a fallback plan, you can free your mind to explore further
  • Difficulty of UX reviews
  • 1 picture can’t really show you enough. (ok)
  • UX is not skin deep. Review it by experiencing it, not by looking at it
  • Time is a heavier commitment when reviewing UX than graphics or industrial design
  • Good UX needs good SW (play nice!)
  • Demos are not just for demoing the design. They are a design tool for revealing areas of concern.
  • Tools of trade
  • Your design tools leave marks in the UI.
  • Tools need to change to do this well.

People

  • Skills is everything: Interaction design is like music. You must master your instrument before you can make art.
  • The most interesting design happens between the disciplines, not within.
  • You’ll spend most of your time with the inexperienced designers.
  • You’ll end up spending most of your time in the least relevant parts of your UI, b/c you give that work t/ the inexperienced designers who need more help
  • Tacit Knowledge
  • You can’t write down the soul of a design
  • The soul of the design cannot be documented. Designers must grow into it.
  • Stress leads to bad judgment. Take care of yourself.

David Malouf: Sketching: The Secret Sauce of Design

As this was my workshop, I’ll break this down very quickly. This was a very hands on workshop that asked participants to put down their laptops and take out pen & paper. Here are the core elements of the lecture:

What is design?
Design is the intentional creation of the conditions that allow for serendipity to happen. Serendipity are happy accidents. Designers do this in many ways, but the process and accompanying artifacts and use of space associated with sketching alone or in a group is a fundamental aspect of allowing this to happen.

Abductive Thinking
This is analysis through asking the question, “what might be”. It favors exploration over hypothesis validation and uses the critique as a means of knowing success instead of rational criteria.

What is a sketch?
By heavily referencing Bill Buxton’s “Sketching the User Experience”, we focused less on sketch as a specific type of artifact and more as a relationship between Intentionality, Form (artifact), and Implications.  A proper sketch is a suggestion more than an answer. It asks for more input, instead of validation. To do this a sketch must have several properties:

  • It needs to happen quickly.
  • It needs to be cheap enough as to be disposable (materials & time).
  • There has to be an extreme multiplicity to have broad comparison & juxtaposition.
  • The visual vocabulary needs to be well understood by all stakeholders who will be looking at it.
  • It can’t have a higher quality than what is truly complete.
  • It needs to communicate in a material that gives the sense that it is rough.

There were lots of exercises to practice these ideas within a few different contexts. The last exercise highlighted a group activity where sketching is used as a tool that allows for collaborators to “riff” off of each other’s ideas. By constantly building off of ideas, we saw how the core of an idea can be expanded on again and again to have a design progress.

The environment where you work is key. There needs to be lots of wall space where you can hang up materials so that everyone involved can constantly view every sketch. Nothing should really be taken down. Walls should be removed from a design space to allow for interruption and butting in. It is preferred to use chart paper instead of whiteboards for this type of work so all artifacts get preserved in a material that can be hung up right away.

Lastly, we talked about a specific type of sketching that places people in the situation of using interfaces. By drawing quick comic strips early experience prototypes and stories can be put together.

It closed with a call to all UX Professionals to sketch every day.

-

Header photo by Pedro Moura Pinheiro

David Malouf

Professor of Interaction Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design

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