Anna Divers
Apr 21, 2012
7 mins reading time

My top picks from UXLondon 2012

My top picks from this years UXLondon (I’ll share links to slides/videos once they’re available). Enjoyed this year immensely, got more out of it than last year, ate far too much steak and generally had an all-round good time.

Day 1

Luke Wroblewski - Go Mobile

This talk was for me the best talk I have heard on Mobile, was such a practical look at mobile UI and mobile behaviours. Plenty of takeaways from the talk alone. Others went onto his workshop, sadly I didn’t but am sure would be a detailed step-by-step guide to anyone designing a mobile app. For me him defining 4 use-cases for mobile helps you consider what people use their mobile for:

  • Look-up/Find (frequently connected with locality)
  • Explore/Play (killing time)
  • Check in/Status (financial, sport results, messages etc)
  • Edit/Create (something I need to do, its urgent or I have time write now)

And consideration of navigation vs. content screen ratio was so insightful. Think Youtube, News sites – content first, navigation second (minimal nav, max content) – do you really want to wait whilst you’re waiting. Give user immediate value – give them upfront what they care about it. E.g. ski resort app – check-in/status (e.g. weather/conditions first), other nav second.

Jared Spool - Mobile and UX – in the eye of the perfect storm.

Worth watching once the videos are out, great speaker. Check out the Kano Model for customer engagement. Jared reminded us that excitement generators get us to ‘delight’ – often don’t take much investment (can be very small and simple things that make the difference). And that a satisfaction study is not a goal – basic expectations just get you to satisfied – its like asking someone if the food was edible. But the part of his talk that resonated the most was 3 questions to ask yourself:

3 Questions to ask:

  • Vision: can everyone on team describe the experience of using your design five years from now? Everyone should tell (Vision – like a stake in the sand. But its in sand so you can pick it up and move it. Thats ok – because the mission is move towards the stake/flag).
  • Feedback: In the last six weeks have you spent more than two hours watching a user use yours or a competitor’s design?
  • Culture: In the last six weeks, have you rewarded a team member for creating a major design failure.

Bill Derouchey – Design with an opinion

Engaging with customers, The Better Way – thinking creates engagement, slightly antagonistic, opinionated, overt statements in the example – “You are bad at maths” – gave people a ‘it’s safe to spend’ feature Let your opinions shine through your product. Make your customers think, they’ll probably engage more with you.

Jon Kolko - The next step for design – social entrepreneurship.

From a personal, thought-provoking perspective, I particularly enjoyed this talk What are the problems that are worth solving? Disruptive power of design – love this, started by giving homeless people self esteem (its not a homeless website though – its a learning web site).

Day 2 and Day 3

Day 2 and 3 of UXLondon saw us roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty in full-on, intense half-day workshops. These were my highlights:

Janice Fraser - Lean UX for Product Innovators.

Was frankly awesome! Whilst I’ve read the Lean Start Up by Eric Ries and been to hear him speak in London, Janice added even more to the Lean principles. Her workshop was totally engaging and full-on interaction. She told us that the only thing limiting us is courage. Particularly liked her slightly-naff t-shirt – Get Out of The Building! – her mantra – the only way you are going to learn what your users want/think/are saying. And the impact for change is when you have alignment in belief within the organisation. Loved her way of simplifying the process and these key questions you need to ask yourself: Prioritise the right customer problems, is it a high-value problem?

– Who is it for? – What can it do that wasn’t possible for someone to do before? – What features do you need? – How do they fit together?

She gave us (and we experienced through a hands-on exercise) the best tips for ideation:

– Go really broad first with ideas, then funnel – Be quick. Ideation should be quick. – Work independently first for focus. Give yourself a time limit to go faster. – Then talk, discuss. Multi-person ideation yields better results. More brain power. – 3 is the optimum number. >3 is not good. – Working at the wall = better collaboration. – Efficient decision-making is essential. – Decision-making has to arbitary when no or little data.

And particularly like her 7 habits of highly effective UX Designer:

  1. Ideate with friends (max 3 people)
  2. Go broad (10 ideas/assumptions each)
  3. Say ‘tell me about this one’ (shows commitment to understanding)
  4. Who has the ‘d’? (who is going to make the decision)
  5. Make informed, albeit arbitary decisions (inaction will kill the idea, not launching is killer)
  6. Prove it (how do we know this?)
  7. Question perfection (be embarrassed)

and her 4 power tools:

  1. Dump and sort (ideas/assumptions)
  2. Work at the wall
  3. Blue tape 2 x 2
  4. Dot voting

You can read more by going to

Kevin Cheng - How to Become (or work with) a Product Manager.

Found this very helpful on a personal level – it helped me understand the role I have been undertaking whilst working on our new holiday app. It also helped ‘de-fuzz’ the overlap between Product Manager and UX roles. Found these definitions invaluable, as they give clarity to the role: The product manager – interacts with UX, Engineering, Business – synthesises all different needs and facilitates. The Product Manager responsibilities:

  • Inputting to strategy-Roadmap-Requirements-Prioritising-Facilitating-Business Goals-Budget-Coordination-Consensus-Measuring and Iterating
  • Clearing the way so engineers and designers can focus on what they’re good at.
  • The Product Manager leads, but also provides a service to designers, developers and stakeholders.
  • The Product Manager = a facilitator, building consensus across teams and disciplines.
  • The Product Manager is a hub, taking inputs from all sources and keeping everyone informed.
  • Is an editor responsible for success of vision, but not necessarily contributing directly.
  • Engineers and Designers CREATE
  • Product Managers ask “What’s important?” “Which features are most important for the goals of the app/site?” So you have to know what your goal is.

Then whats important should show through in the UI. Keep primary features showing through in the UI. (FB, Instagram, Foursquare all have very common features, but in each their UI prioritise the features they care about most). It’s more important to say ‘no’ to new features than it is to say yes. Take features out, rather than put them in. What matters most? Does this new feature help our goal? Need to define constrained goals. Then check features align back to goals. Product Managers need to be good at:

  • Synthesising
  • Coordinating
  • Have empathy
  • Speak many ‘languages’
  • Documentation
  • Numbers
  • Leading

### Leah Buley - The UX Team of One Bootcamp Talked us through her principles for a lean UX approach, and different methodologies to adopt depending on the project need. Particularly liked her ‘Bathroom UX’ method – fly-posting in the toilets for your most captive audience – great way to give a project visibility and to get people to engage/participate (post up different, proposed UX designs ask them to annotate/feedback).

Travis Isaacs -

Wireframe toolkit for Keynote. Includes Twitter Bootstrap template. Worth a play.

Tags Customer, Engagement, User, Experience, UX, UXLondon