Laura 1

Hello, I’m Laura, a User Experience Designer at the Co-op, currently in my second month with the company and loving it! Recently the team and I attended this year’s Northern User Experience conference NUX4. The talks all addressed a variety of issues – read on to see what I took away from the day…

Tomer Sharon – Google – “User Research”

This talk told a story about a failed (fictional) app called The app fails at first because their user research relied on the opinions of friends and the app didn’t solve any real user need. They then (reluctantly) utilised a user researcher who helped identify a true user, and developed their initial product into something with a different purpose, to serve real needs.

– Just because you would use a product, doesn’t mean there is a need for it.
– “Do the right thing, then things right”
– “Fall in love with problems, then with solutions”
– “Observe people, don’t just listen to what they say”

Jenny Grinblo – Future Workshops – “Clients Don’t Suck”

This talk reassessed the attitude towards ‘the evil client’, supported by sites such as It showed the importance of switching thinking to ‘Our expertise + our client’s expertise = something awesome’. Jenny identified three different client ‘Conditions’, which all need to be handled in different ways.

– Create a toolkit of methods that work with a variety of different stakeholders.
– Record what works and what doesn’t, for different types of people.
– Try and keep the mindset: my work + ideas we create together + client knowledge, expertise and support = client propping you up, not pulling you down.

Stavros Garzonis – cxpartners – “Co-design”

Stravos’ main message was that co-design can be done effectively by using a mixture of users, client stakeholders, (1:1 ratio is the most effective mix to ensure voices are heard in the correct way) and a facilitator (the workshop leader).

– Everyone can sketch, they just need to feel empowered to do so.
– People WILL engage.
– Using the Design Council Double Diamond process within a workshop, ideas can be defined and developed quickly and effectively.

Alberta Soranzo – Tobias & Tobias – “Designing to change behaviours”

A slightly different talk that informed us that a 1940s US ad-campaign transformed diamonds from being ‘common’ and plentiful in the market into something synonymous with romance. This then birthed the concept of engagement rings, eternity rings, and the artificial need of ‘Diamonds are Forever’… which is still believed in 2015.

Designs have impact on our future selves, so we should try and use this power for good.

– With great design comes great responsibility.
– Take responsibility for the behaviour change your designs can bring.
– Use design to help people, and develop behaviours that result in positive outcomes.

Brian Suda – – “Connecting the digital to analog”

This was a talk about a love for paper, and how we can use it to create beautiful and functional things. They shared a few examples such as the no-longer-with-us Little Printer. The focus of the talk was around PocketMod, which creates a ‘discreet personal organiser’, which Brian has developed into pocket custom travel guides, so you don’t scream ‘tourist’.

– Don’t forget about paper.
– Give users a reason to hold onto something and use it for more than its purpose; give them contextual information.

Claire Rowland – Internet of Things – “Designing for connected products”

One of the biggest problems with connected products is trying to marry up the features and familiarity of old products, with new interfaces and designs.

Claire says that the key to this is context, and that there are two ways of looking at this; Either, experiences between connected products and their supporting interfaces should be consistent, so the user understands interactions and features (e.g. an app mirroring the functions/display on the physical product). Or, separate the product from the supporting interface, and isolate features/controls to one or the other (e.g. the physical product having no manual functions or display, and everything is controlled through the supporting app).

– No one needs a wifi-connected kettle
– Always use context to determine what level of feedback you need to give users throughout
– For legacy products, consistent terminology is often more important than what the UI looks like.

Sara Wachter-Boettcher – Content strategist – “Content for kindness”

This keynote speech was hard-hitting and focused on explaining the importance of compassion within UX, even in what seem to be the smallest areas.

Most people who have encountered form design will have asked the question ‘Do we need this field?’ It’s important to think how these questions affect people on a deeper level than just data capture. When designing for the majority we shouldn’t ignore the minority. Examples Sara used were an app for women to track their periods which overstepped its purpose to the point where it was cringe worthy and Facebook’s naming policy as lots of Native American users had their names rejected by Facebook because they ‘violated their policy’ and ‘did not comply’.

– Be careful with form fields. Everything is a trigger for someone.
– Unless the information is vital, don’t ask for it.
– Adjust to your user’s needs, instead of expecting them to fit ours.