Apr 25, 2015

UXcamp Vienna 2015 - Highlights: Usability testament, little money, heroes & communication

Last week the UXcamp 2015 in Vienna took place. The organizational team did a great job and we had 4 parallel tracks, so a lot of talks we could choose from. One highlight was of course the keynote by Rolf Molich.

Keynote: Rolf Molich - The Testament of a usability professional - 8 lessons from 32 years with usability

I want to highlight two of his learnings - #1 was that the more things change the more they stay the same. I agree 100% with this - because the basics haven't changed: the methods we use in usability haven't changed in the last years and how humans perceive and act is still the same, so the basic design principles are still valid.

And the second lesson was that we as usability engineers should set good examples and should sweep at our own door before you sweep the door of your neighbors. For example also our documents we create should be easily readable for the "users".

Include positive findings in your usability report, because "even developers have feelings".

Session #1: Improve UX with Little Money by @sarapoetze

Sarah presented ideas how UX improvements can  be done if there's not a big budget for usability available. The four topics:
  • Use data that is already there (support request, read reviews in social media, analytics data, use photography for communicating ideas of the users environment to the team)
  • Get information in your team (ad-hoc personas by Tamara Adlin - but be careful!)
  • Get information remotely (remote usability tests, questionnaires)
  • Guerilla testing (test with colleagues, pedestrians, etc.; Informal testing session with users (Barbecue); Tool: Rainbow Spreadsheet (Google))
During the discussion we collected further ideas and it's always a good idea to stick to Standards.

Session #2: Design Heroic Experiences by @DamjanObal

Damjan had a nice idea - he tried to map the Idea of "a Heroes journey" to the process of creating a Product or Project Vision.
Silly outfit
  1. The Quest: What is the Problem we wan to solve? It's necessary to solve a real Problem.
  2. Help Lois: Know the user, know their Problem and help them.
  3. Villains: Who is the competitor? You should know him well.
  4. A hero is special (after dark) & as you and me (during the day): The product is powerful and smart (in the backend) & simple and minimal (frontend).
  5. The super: The product should have something Special.
  6. Silly Outfit: The design makes it complete and can make it catchy.
Stan Lee: "More than normal, but believable."
Don't design something that is "out of space" - it should be approachable.

Damjan provided his slides on Slideshare.

Session #3: Agile Design Thinking in Distributed Teams by @CForaita

Chris presented based on one project how the team managed to work with distributed teams in an agile project.

The core idea was to have one kick-off workshop at the beginning together to share ideas and work on the project together - some details:
Empathy map
  • Keep the team small (only participators, no observers)
  • 3 days: one room, no chair > Idea: No boring Meeting
  • Various methods, but all focused on gathering a lot of data
  • Method for getting everybody at the same bus: 100 cards with random words, they had to scissor out 6 words "How would your product work best?"
  • Empathy map for users
  • Design product box: White paper bags, melt down everything what you learned in the last days > visible what is really important.

Session #4: UX - zwischen Forschung und Praxis am Beispiel Medieninformatik by @peterpur

Peter Purgathofer of the technical university in Vienna presented how they work on projects and presented the project Aurora 2015. This is a tool for sharing information between students and teachers and organizing the tasks the students need to fulfill.
The project is open source and available on github.

Session #5: How can I ensure better communication in teams? by @KarinCepin

The last session was a very interesting talk and discussion of how communication can be improved in teams. Of course a important method here are the "Retrospectives" and that we should pleasure failing.
"Failing is a big methaphor for learning an improving."

We discussed that it is very important to feel save in retrospectives. And Karin recommended the Book "Project retrospectives by Norman Kerth:
"Regardless of what we discover we need to understand that everybody did the best job , … "

During the discussion we collected further ideas how to improve communication in teams:
  • Learning Session: there should be room to share what we learn (e.g. Dev-Jour Fixe).
  • Finding a Mission Statement in the team
  • "Getting to yes"-Method by Steve Blank: if the team has a problem they should ask themselves questions like "What would it cost for the company and would be the impact?" in order to provide this information to the management (further Information)
  • Involve the team (different roles, different departments) in the ideation Phase (e.g. Creating the backlog together with the whole team)
  • Support collaboration with pair programming, pair testing, bug fixing sessions

Like usually at UXcamps I learned a lot, had interesting discussion and met great people, See you next year :-)

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