UX Australia 2012

Over two days there were 24 main presentations with a handful of short ten-minute talks thrown in. Prior to the two days of presentations there’s also two days of workshops. UX Australia does a great job on the networking front, maximising every opportunity for people to meet. Here’s a quick round up of presentations…

Bill DeRouchey

The power of “Why?” by Bill DeRouchey
This years theme was ‘being human’. Keynote speaker Bill DeRouchey has worked as head of Ziba (a US design company) and for Simple (a start-up redefining the way people bank using mobile). His topic was the power of asking stakeholders ‘why’ and the importance of UXers having a genuine interest in the people and contexts that they are designing for. DeRouchey got the audience thinking about their career spans, how long they would be working and how to get the most out of design projects by asking why.

How I became authentically digital, or: what you need to know about the “Metro” design language by Shane Morris
One of Australia’s more experienced experience designers, Shane Morris has worked for Microsoft and talked about the Metro design language. Metro uses blocks of colours and panoramic screens as the basis of its design. What drove the new design direction was that Microsoft needed to differentiate their brand. Metro was part inspired by station signage and Bauhaus. Morris also showed a quirky video of a toddler trying to pinch and zoom a magazine thinking it was an ipad. Blogger Scott Barnes has some strong opinions about Metro. A design student in the US has also had a crack at rebranding microsoft.

Bronwyn van der Merwe

Creating a global experience language for the BBC by Bronwyn van der Merwe
The highlight (by an English country mile) was Bronwyn van der Merwe speaking about the BBC’s Global Experience Language (GEL).  The goal was to make the BBC current, compelling, witty, pioneering, joined up and universal amongst other things. Bauhaus got mentioned again as another design influence as well as classical Penguin book cover designs and Sal Bass (think Hitchcocks North by Northwest intro). Like Metro the BBC wanted a clean design language. The mobile branding and navigation was difficult and they ensured that the design patterns worked across all mobile platforms. Part of the process involved merging 17 design teams moved down to one.

Potholes on the journey to design transparency by Jake Causby
Jake Causby used to work at Atlassian (a software company in Sydney) and talked about the importance of transparency within design projects. He once worked with a developer who deployed changes whenever they felt like it without telling anyone. He is now a fan of Kanban boards amongst other techniques that open up comms. One nice tip from Causby was to get stakeholders to take the notes during user testing sessions in order to get them more involved in the project.

Stephen Cox

The design anthropologist’s mindset by Stephen Cox
This presentation started with Cox stylishly by mapping out the history of the ages on a roll of loo paper. Cox explained how design has been used to reflect and enhance human needs throughout history. Designers can benefit from anthropology in design through contextual inquiry, ethnography and co-design.

Memento mori: Remember your mortality by Joji Mori
Joji Morii is writing a PHD at Melbourne University about what happens to the digital legacies of the deceased. Momento Mori means ‘remember your mortality’. Mori (who just so happens to share the same name) talked about a girl who was murdered in Macdonalds in USA. Five years on, Facebook and other digital forms are keeping her memory alive. He’s also worked with communities affected by the Black Saturday Victorian bush fires exploring various commemoration methods and has been running workshops where people meaningful mementos via interactive technologies. It made me think about the legal side of digital legacy and how it is an area set to boom.

Real world user experience or when channel finally dies by Harriet Wakelam & Jessica Ukotic
This looked at a service design project for NAB retail store concept. With hours spent studying customers in-store behaviour, designers Harriet Waklem and Jessica Ukotic discovered how important it was to do end to end work as an enabler for channel transparency. They spotted customers had nowhere to leave their drinks whilst waiting and noticed that scent is important in stores. It helped taking store tellers on the design journey so that they could understand the design process.

Combining Agile, Lean and Usability within Suncorp by Teale Shapcott
Teale Shapcott is head of UX at Suncorp and recently ran a project to bring back a neglected intranet to life. Although accessible by 16,000 Suncorp staff, the old intranet only got 200 visits a month with content geared towards business divisions rather than activities. The project goals were to revamp the intranet to provide more useful information for staff and to increase productivity. Shapcott spoke about how the team within Suncorp combined Agile, Lean and Usability techniques to simplify and improve online Service delivery and increase productivity.

Designing Big Data Interactions Using the Language of Discovery by Joe Lamantia
Joe Lamentia is the UX lead at Oracle and was involved in putting together the excellent Endeca search design patterns library. The session presented a simple toolkit for discovery activities. Lamantia suggests using the following modes for each component of a project – Locate, verify, Monitor, Compare, Comprehend, Explore, Analyse, Evaluate and Synthesise.

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