As local community-driven events go none comes close to the UXCampLondon experience – people, subject matter, venue, organisation, communication and relevance all culminating into a UX Festival.
On Saturday, August 22nd, we (pre-registered attendees) gathered at the eBay/Gumtree offices in Richmond to enjoy a full day un-conference-style barcamp for the local User Experience (UX) community – the first-ever organised by Cennydd (Bowles) of Clearleft). Cennydd and his able support team did a stunning job.
I, like many folk, missed the pre-registration but scooped a last-minute place after Cennydd contacted me through Twitter on Thursday evening (August, 20th) to ask whether I was still interested. You bet. I cancelled my track racing plans and began thinking about what I’d talk about.
What I learnt about the local UX community
The local UX community…
- is SOCIAL – we love to network (see the Twitter tag)
- LOVE what they do – designing good user experiences (see The Wall of Deliverables)
- are willing to LISTEN and LEARN – all the sessions were well supported (even mine) with plenty of commentry and debate
- KNOW HOW to put on a barcamp and enjoy themselves doing it.
The ‘Wall of Deliverables’
I decided to display my interactive engaging wireframe as an example of alternative ways to encourage engagement with a slightly fun kid-like wireframe assembly method (worked well for me). With exceptional competition my chances at claiming the prize was slim, however I did receive a few votes (using little green dot stickers). Thanks to those to voted for me. The winner, however, was a set of user flows (citation needed).
The opening session
I was struck by how many folk were interested in formal study in the UX/IxD. In the first session Cara bravely kicked off her session with Getting started in UX – my quest for answers‘ as her title. She opened up for feedback on where/how she, as a Project Manager, can get started in a UX designer role. She invited the session attendees to share their experiences. I empathised with Cara by suggesting we were in similiar positions… as did another attendees too. Andy Budd‘s, from Clearleft, heretical view carved a way for talented and experienced UX designers over newly qualified Masters graduates. He view from a small agency’s persepctive.
Over the course of the day in-between lunch and tea breaks, fantastic sessions were being put on by other attendees. With all talks ranging from research, corporate UX, iPhone/mobile UX design, UX patterns and personal experiences within UX, there was something for everone. Cennydd and Dees put on a ‘Location’ discussion which spoke about all experiences and thoughts related to location and its impact on real-life experiences and of course UX design.
The beanbag session
Another stand-out session I attended was facilitated by Andy (Budd) entitled: Design Games 101; better ways for collaboration, facilitation and ideations. The session was very much an interactive session focusing on ways to inspire and get creative with clients. Andy tasked everyone to split into groups – size irrelevant, but smaller groups prefered. We were then given boxes, pens and a sheet of paper and tasked to design a box (yes, 3-D) for Gumtree. We were to design it so people looking at the box would know what Gumtree was and what it offered highlighting all the obvious draws. We were given 10mins to come up with the design, in our teams, and then to present our design (the box) to the rest of the group.
The exercise was great fun, ‘forcing’ each person to bond, to form good teamwork to come up with our design… something that is very often difficult to achieve in the field. The exercise got us thinking about what we were designing, but importantly, as Andy stated, to think about design without the usual constraints (again difficult to achieve). Personally, I had a lot of fun and inspired to try this technique at work, but it also got me to think about design without constraints, this before ploughing into my projects. I’m sure all my fellow attendees would concur that the session was both fun and useful.
Finally, the all important supporters
Our IT team are putting together a ‘cookie cutter’ solution for rapid website deployments. During this process they are moving to the latest version of Liferay (Liferay version 5). I was privy to be invited to join a introduction training session on how to add/edit pages and content.
I can’t say I’m a fan of drop-n-drag when it comes to managing the UI, especially for Marketers or anyone who has little knowledge about the importance of UI design and consistentcy. I see this approach as a somewhat irresponsibly provactive unless very tight portlet lock-down is enforced.