UX Australia ’10 Report: Day Two

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The second and final day of UX Australia began with the inspired wake up working session, and continued with streams of talks more focused on showing both sides of the designer-client relationship, and insights on UX related fields ranging from AR to retail.

Morning Wake Up Working Sessions

In what was a fantastic idea from the organisers, the first session of the day consisted of workshops led by Jay Rogers (Traditional hand-skills for sketching), Gary Barber (Keeping sketching real), Caronne Carruthers-Taylor (Sketching user journeys), Symplicit (Wake-up design challenge), Different (Visioning) and Westpac (Touch-point card game).  Attendees loved the concept as a creative way to start the day, and we hope that other conferences pick up on the idea in the future.

Workshops - Symplicit Touch Cards, and Jay Rogers teaching sketching

Workshops - Westpac Touch Cards, and Jay Rogers teaching sketching

Michelle GilmoreReal world challenges and how we tackled them, shown from two perspectives: us and our client

Michelle Gilmore, Wendy Barnao

This presentation delivered on its title with Glimore (UX designer from Neoteny) and Barnao (client side Project Owner for Asgard Wealth Solutions) sharing their perspectives and experiences of a recent challenging yet ultimately highly successful project. Barnao gave us a rare insight into what it feels like to be taken on the HCD journey for the first time and the role she played in helping the design team come to terms with, and gain access to, the complex world of financial services.

Gilmore stepped us through the lessons learned navigating the complex project and its multiple stakeholder agendas, challenging us to take more responsibility for ensuring designs live beyond the handover. How to work better with (rather than for) our clients was a recurring theme of the conference and this presentation took it one step further – sharing real obstacles faced from both perspectives, as well as strategies for doing better next time. (Many in the audience thought client/designer duos should be a regular feature). To keep the conversation going Gilmore’s team at Neoteny have created www.challengepile.com as a place the design community can capture and share project challenges and solutions.

The Value of Asking Why?

Dan Szuc

A question of value - remember when this was valuable?

Former Melbourne boy Dan Szuc literally opened up the family treasure chest with the start of his talk on value, having cleaned up his family home while here to find such relics as a (fully working) 1950s radio and a brick phone (that many in the audience found oddly good to hold).

In his highly interactive talk, he challenged designers to consider the value of their products they work with, what they do, and the need to design for things such as:

  • value (self > product > environmental) and happiness “It’s hard to introduce happiness in your products if you as a designer are unhappy”
  • knowing when to say no as cycle company Franscesco Betelli does
  • embracing failing fast and keeping teams small in order to do so, as Google does
  • creating a shared language and values between engineering, marketing, design

Szuc finished with the inspiring quote from Joshua Porter on 52 Weeks of UX

Creating long lasting value does not happen by accident. It is the purposeful application of sensible design for real people.

Creating mobile experiences that matter

Rod Farmer, Anton Sher

Farmer and Sher delivered an energetic, fast paced presentation demonstrating the acrobatic UX moves they performed in order to get the award winning 3 Mobile iPortal out into the world in 6 weeks, in total secrecy. While Farmer shared key design principles and the story of the project Sher shared the low down on the actual portal design. This presentation was packed with practical “how to” tips for designing for mobile (it’s about the total experience not just the UI), as well as being living proof of what can be achieved even under the most extreme constraints via “Mad Max UX” – despite all the challenges the app meet annual traffic targets within 4 weeks.
Take outs included:

  • Mobile experience is about interaction between people, place & platform
  • Think “situational planning#” – mobile experiences unfold over time, people snack, stop, start, change and get distracted – completely different to a sedentary desktop interaction
  • Focus on personal over personalisation and context over features
  • Always design at scale
#A big field but situated action texts from HCI are a good start point for the theory behind this e.g., Suchman’s seminal work or Jakob E. Bardram’s PlansAsSituatedAction.pdf

The Secret Life of Deliverables

Anthony Quinn
What’s a deliverable? Quinn reflected on his (and many “friends’”) experiences with the issues of deliverables in the black box of “large organisations”.
Some of the gotchas they keep in mind is the design maturity of the company (taken from B+D), implicit objectives, and clients not knowing how to critique (they get around this by both combining Jesse Jame Garrett’s Elements of User Experience to frame the deliverables, and the RASCI model -Responsible, Accountable, Supportive, Consulted, Informed – to help stakeholders understand their level of influence in any design decision.)

They concluded that deliverables are:

  1. Produced to influence an outcome;
  2. Recognise & respond to content
  3. Draw out implicit perceptions, objectives/expectations
  4. Manage stakeholder explicitly, continually/consistently
  5. Ensure users of deliverables can articulate intent actions required to achieve desired outcome
  6. Observe. orient, respond to change

The Westpac team are also creating a prototype toolkit of these learnings, which should be very interesting to see.

Emerging a content strategy from user research

Scott Bryant

Scott Bryant

Byrant turned the spotlight on his relationship with lorum ipsum asking how user research might be better applied to informing content strategy (not just navigation, design and interaction).

Taking principles from Halvorson’s book as a start point Byrant took us backstage into one of the most content rich online contexts – news – sharing video interviews with the people who “make content happen” within News Digital Media (NDM). Bryant used questions about the context of content, the use of user research and what content creators in his organisation were influenced by to investigate the role and nature of Content Strategy in this context.

He also showcased some of the experimental approaches to testing and measuring people’s experiences with content being taken by the USiT team at NDM such as clicktale.com, FB Like & recommend and www.tynt.com.

Defining the recipient journey: The role of software to support hearing restoration at Cochlear

Shane Morris, Toby Cumming, Jane Cockburn

Speaking from both the perspective of client and designer, this presentation showed the potential of UX to be used in conjunction with innovative medical technologies. Cochlear, an Australian company who create world leading hearing implants, identified an explosion in need for their devices in the near future, but a blockage because the current software requires specialist training for clinicians to use.

Done in combination with Different and ACID, the agile-like project  – -   is still in progess, but so far has been very successful. The lessons they’ve learned so far are:

  • Use the appropriate tools: the team had initially thought they’d use a living spec doc (a Sketchflow prototype), but realised that it became too unwieldy to update and reverted to a combination of paper for general testing, flash for key screens , and a standard document for all details.
  • Team involvement: having personas on the wall, and bringing developers into testing has helped them get real sense of empathy. The best story the team had was of one of their developers role-playing the part of a six-year old girl, daydreaming and all!
  • Stakeholder Engagement - UX process has helped engage stakeholders (marketing in diff. countries). Cockburn called this “crossing the bridge” with a common language. An unexpected side effect of creating personas was that they got adopted by both marketing and management to the point that they were all would refer to them by name.

Activating Customer Centric Culture

Ian Muir, Ean Van Vuuren
In this seriously meaty presentation Muir and Van Vuuren told the story of Westpac’s (ongoing) transition to a customer centric organisation. Van Vuuren described the journey from the business perspective – a move from ‘selling’ to ‘buying’, (i.e., how do customers buy houses/manage mortgages/credit cards…). Muir gave us the “how to” behind the process describing the steps along the maturity model and emphasising the need for a robust strategy that can withstand challenges from skeptics. This generous presentation demonstrated the value of a customer-centric model through very visible ROI including product uptake, such as their iPhone app which has done $1.1B worth of transactions with over 300,000 customers since March this year. Van Vuuren reflected on the inevitable resistance to change but highlighted the richness of rewards when things were done right: “whenever I’m feeling down I read the comments about our iphone app…”.

Designing for Touch Screen Experiences

Oliver Weidlich
Beginning with a poignant story of his elderly grandfather using an iPad, Weidlich led the audience through a useful primer on touch screens, and some pro tips.

Starting with some background information about touchscreen devices (most primitive touchscreens were resistive, but now being replaced with iPhone style capacitive screens), he gave the three key questions to keep in mind – screen size, screen distance, and available attention (these devices are rarely used without distractions). He also emphasised that tablets not only have new ergonomics to computer and mobile, but are also encouraging new behaviours (use in bedrooms and kitchens). Because of this, help screens (usually a sign of a bad UI) are standard to help users learn the capabilities of touch applications.

Based on his experience, he gave the following suggestions:

  • Avoid outer positions (these may be accidentally hit when held, and generally aren’t as responsive as the centre
  • Relax muscles (Latency – minimise scrolling with hub & spoke design
  • Optimize interface for taps rather than swipes or drag)
  • Use touch interaction guidelines such as http://lukew.com/touch , and http://swypeinc.com (a suggestion from the audience was http://gesturecons.com)
  • Make visual feedback clear: as there are no hover states as we have in web.
  • Optimise for one finger (but consider multiple)

Above all, his two big takeaways were appropriate target size and placement are key, and (as in all interaction design), sweat the details.

For future inspiration, he suggested the Instapaper guidelines and concept UIs such as Skin, haptics work, roll up screens, and finger-behind interfaces.

Joe Sokhol

Nailing it down: Specifying experience design so it can be built

Joe Sokohl

Delivered with some serious southern style Sokohl asked us to reconsider the role of specifications – suggesting that while the move away from massive inhumane 200 page spec docs is a good thing, it’s not about ditching the notion of specifying design altogether (especially in complex/remote work environments).

The core message was: make sure that specifications actually do their job. Sokohl argued that anything that impacts user experience is the domain of the UX designer, and it’s up to us to communicate those specifications effectively – that is: “just enough detail to enable the developer to understand the UX designers intent”. Sokohl pointed out the common disjuncture between what we deliver and the work that has to be done, providing some alternative approaches to conventional specs such as annotated wireframes and sketches and advocating for embedded specifications which provide the detail in the context of the design.

AR-UX: The generation of the pervasive User Experience

Alex Young

Young got beyond the hype of AR (she explained the field has exploded in the last few years but mainly in novelty ways such as brand presence) to talk about its various modes, constraints, and opportunities.

Of the types of AR:

  • Public is generally used for art exhibitions etc. The Lego kiosk AR box was a mixed success, as people didn’t know how to activate the experience (some had markers missing, others just didn’t get it)
  • Intimate (PC) is good for home – GE Ecomagination was a success at being entertaining, but an unexpected side effect was that schools loved it as it encouraged kinaesthetic learning
  • Personal (mobile) may be browser based (e.g. Wikitude, Layar, Geneo) or object (Google Goggles) – great for finding places or gaming but main issue is discovering content.
  • Private (ubicomp) – the standard sci-fi goggles – is virtually unused at present, however Young sees a future in this (see yesterday’s talk on biofeedback).

The challenges are very similar to those in mobile – context anywhere, rapidly changing technology,  new affordances and users, and utility – but with added ones of physicality (T-Shirts are problematic as people are different sizes), and expectations (she pointed out that Hollywood is now making near-future films such as Iron Man which makes cinematic quality AR look like it’s here).

Designs that ship: New tools for ensuring your UX work reaches its audience

Matt Morphett

Morphett’s presentation extended the theme of working better with our clients sharing tips, tricks and props from a recent project. Morphett presented a number of different tools including the User Stakeholder triangle used to map out with client various project motivations across the three core perspectives of business, architecture and users (check out the templates). The method encourages representatives from the three different stakeholder groups to recognise the inherent dynamic between their particular perspectives, and gives them a tool to negotiate productively around the different priorities and how they impact the project. Public posters at the client’s office showed the areas of focus for each week and fun, physical props including a Magic Wand (representing users), a squeezy spanner (representing engineering), & a Magic 8 ball (representing business) were employed to help stakeholders stop, reflect and consider the motivations and implications of different design decisions.
Key messages included:

  • Provide a framework that helps to get the problems out on the table and lets all stakeholders work through them together
  • Ask: Who could undo a design? Go as high as you can & get them involved
  • Get key stakeholders from Architecture, Business & Users seeing the dynamic between their different needs & contributing to the solution

Creating innovative retail organisations

Richard Beaumont
The conference track finished with a fast paced presentation by Beaumont that documented his learnings from working with retail chains Tesco, Coles, and 1st Choice. The sheer volume of were  impossible for even the most ardent live-tweeter to capture, but what came through was that many strategies in retail are known to user experience (talk in the stakeholders’ language, consider all aspects of the journey and roll-out), but on a far greater scale (Tesco now works across the UK, Europe and Asia).

  • Tesco’s innovation strategy is – consistency, having the best people, plans, objective, projects (they demand project management experience of all leaders), succession, sharing insights.( Tesco went to Asia, learned from hypermarkets there, brought findings back, learned to work on different scales)
  • The paradigm shift for different scales -  particularly from big to small  – is hard. Most Tesco small stores didn’t make money for 2 years, learned from results.
  • Bottlenecks are dangerous and inevitable (people lie about metrics)
  • With competitor analysis, when taking photos in competitor’s stores “if you haven’t been thrown out, you haven’t taken enough pictures”
    Documentation needs to be clear, updateable, highly visual, that cover the whole shopping journey (this includes front and back, hours of ordering etc).
  • Talking in stakeholder language is key – for example putting brand decals on the supermarket sold over the marketing director Stakeholders may often not ‘get’ visuals – 3D cutaways were most successful (3D models helped the designers more than anything).  3D videos get sign off, but often bring up questions for internal departments (too high-fidelity)

Other nuggets that came out of the questions were:

  • Shops work with “passion items” (e.g. you need sponge to make a trifle) and make sure these are always in stock.
  • In terms of shopping science, Paco Underhill’s company Envirosell is still the best around, and those who like his book Science of Shopping will be interested in his upcoming title What Women Want

if you haven’t been thrown out [of a competitor’s store while doing research], you haven’t taken enough pictures.

The day finished with giveaways – Morgan Kaufman and Sitepoint books, an iPhone and iPad, and even trip and flights to UX Hong Kong, as well as thanks to all involved (for the record, this was the rare conference where the wi-fi never went down, and where free espresso coffee was provided aplenty) and many taking one more chance to enjoy Melbourne hospitality.

For more resources, check out the the twitter stream, Flickr sets, and many sketchnotes available.


Header image by Steve Baty
Joe Sokhol image by Alex Walker
All others by Penny Hagen

Penny Hagen

Penny is a Design Strategist with over 10 years experience in interactive technologies having designed or produced a range of online and interactive community projects in Australia and New Zealand. She specialises in social change projects and recently completed her PhD in participatory design methods for social technologies at the University of Technology, Sydney.

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.

One comment on this article

  1. Another awesome summary Penny and Vicky – if you keep this up, nobody will need to actually go to the conference :-)