Skip to content

Notes from UXSA 2014 - day two

Day two at the conference was a little quieter, but the crowd was just as energised. Here are my notes from the second day of talks: a few things that caught my attention. For each session below, I’ve tried to find one SMART To Do item.

The Elephant and the Dassie

presented by Kerry-Anne Gilowey (Slides; Twitter: kerry_anne)

  • It’s important to break down the silos between roles in our teams and organisations. The edges of our roles and responsibilities are already blurry. This includes the client, who should be a collaborator in the process.
  • Lenses > Roles. Even on problems that aren’t specifically part of your role, your lens can bring new and different insights to it: shifts the prominence of things in your view. Don’t be afraid to use tools from other roles.
  • The focus of our work is changing from the organisational structure to the customers’s cross-channel journey.
  • Kerry-Anne promoted openness and sharing. She encouraged attending, sharing, and speaking at meet ups. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing: a six person get together over dinner can work really well.

To Do

Typography and improving user experience

presented by Justin Slack (Slides; Twitter: urbanrenewal)

  • We should care about typography because so much of the web is about reading.
  • Optimising typography optimises many things: readability, accessibility, usability, overall graphic balance.
  • Typography should be involved as early in the design process as possible: settle on a typeface as early as possible; test type in the browser as early as possible; organise your design with readability in mind.

To Do

  • Review the typography of sites I work on, with an eye for readability. Update the typographic scale.

Product Management, Cognitive Bias and You

presented by Carlo Kruger (Slides, Twitter: ironicbuddha

  • Carlo talked about the human brain, and System 1 (fast, instinctive and emotional) and System 2 (slow, deliberative, logical) thinking from Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow.
  • He talked us through The Ikea Effect, the Sunk Cost Fallacy (also know as Irrational escalation), and the Bandwagon Effect, and (with very wry humour) talked us through how they had applied to a project at Unboxed. The case study really helped to bring into focus how easy it is to fall victim to these biases.
  • UX practices that bring measuring and the scientific method in to our work can help overcome these. Usability testing can help combat the Ikea Effect. A/B testing gives you metric you can use to get around emotion-based arguments. Cheap prototyping can help avoid the Sunk Cost Fallacy. However, there are cognitive biases mess with these practices too (like the Hawthorne effect, Fundamental Attribution Error, and Confirmation Bias)!
  • Despite the fact they our brains have adapted to let us tell each other where the good fruit is, we can fight back by measuring things, evaluating things, and practising mindfulness.

To Do

  • Review some recent (and upcoming) decisions the team has made, looking out for evidence of cognitive bias, and discuss with the team.

Applying design principles to software development

Presented by Adriaan Fenwick (Slides, Twitter: adriaanfenwick)

  • Your users are the most important aspect of building a product. Personas let you figure out who your users are. We’re good at remembering abut users’ needs, but we shouldn’t forget about their wants too.
  • Adriaan also talked about breaking down silos and working in cross-functional teams.
  • The User Review part of a process must contain real world users, not just someone from your team. Take the team along to usability tests: it helps create empathy for the users. Take some time to evangelise UX and educate the team around you.

To Do

  • Set up one usability testing session and get some of the engineers to come and watch. This seems like a good first step to the “Set up regular, small, usability tests” To Do from my notes from day one.