UX Bristol is one of my favourite conferences. Not only is it on our doorstep, saving us the hassle of organising travel and all that, but as I wrote last year, I particularly enjoy the ‘workshop’ format, as well as the general easy and friendly atmosphere.
- “Validating ideas fast with remote user research” by Adam Babajee-Pycroft: A couple of weeks before the event, the UX Bristol team emailed out a survey to work out which talks were the most popular and to organise the day accordingly. Unfortunately, this year, 3 of my 4 favourite workshops were taking place concurrently. As I haven’t yet discovered the power to be present in different places at the same time, I weighed my personal curiosity with my professional interests and decided to attend the workshop about remote user research by Adam, the UX director and co-founder at Natural Interaction.He went through the advantages and disadvantages of carrying out user research remotely, the different tools available and the kind of tasks that can easily be done remotely. I came out of the workshop feeling a lot more confident about conducting remote user research. Adam was clearly knowledgeable on the subject and this talk was, by far, my favourite of the day.
- “Pragmatism vs purism: when UX meets the real world” by Sarah Prag: My second favourite was Sarah Prag’s talk on applying UX best practices and good intentions to a real project, within a team of designers, developers and project managers, while keeping the client and the stakeholders happy. This workshop was a good laugh – in a good way! The exercise consisted of discussing common issues, such as the opinions or preconceptions of colleagues, or having no real commitment to iterate; we then drew how it made us feel in different parts of our bodies, finally suggesting compromises or solutions.
So, we got to spend a good amount of time moaning about things and it’s funny how we could all relate to the 4 issues we tackled. We also found some interesting ways to resolve these issues, mainly with compromise, evidence and data, and communication. All in all, it was another very successful day.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending UXBristol – one of my favourite conferences to feel inspired – for the third time. The talks are always of the highest quality, with plenty of effort put into them; speakers are eager to answer a question or two and those attending are always up for a pint afterwards!
- “I want my MVP” by Alastair Lee: This was probably my favourite talk of the day. I already had my own idea of what an MVP was, but Alastair introduced a variety of ways on how we could test whether an idea was valid or not using assumptions about the product or service. He showed us many styles of what could be considered an MVP. This helped me to change what my view of an MVP was – a very basic prototype-style product that you’ve cut back on with regards to features and quality of experience. I was aware of the letterbox idea, but I never really considered it as an MVP; however, it makes perfect sense and it’s opened my eyes to a whole new way of testing the validity of ideas.Luckily, for all those who missed Alastair’s workshop, he gave a short presentation on key areas of the talk.
- “The UX of forms” by Sjors Timmer: While not the most exciting topic for most, I was really looking forward to this presentation. Forms are everywhere and Sjors Timmer introduced the group to some best practices, plus a few tips and tricks to turn an ‘okay’ form, into a great one. The best advice I gained from the talk is to “question your questions” when adding fields to a form. Forms are potentially the most important interaction for users on a website or app and they should be able to complete it quickly, with no confusion. Users can be hesitant to fill them out, so you need to make this process as easy as possible, by cutting out all the rubbish and not assuming users will instinctively know what to do. Being the last talk of the day, Sjors did a great job in keeping everyone entertained, injecting humour and enthusiasm into a potentially boring subject. You can find the slides here. They’re definitely worth checking out.
I’ve definitely managed to take away some extra UX knowledge and skills that I’ll be putting into practice around the office, that’s for sure!
This was my first time at UX Bristol. I enjoyed the experience and came away having learned some new things, as well as brushing up on some old skills. The talks I attended were informative, each with workshops to take part in alongside the teaching elements. There was also lots of free tea and nice treats. In the breaks, I actually got to network somewhat, meeting some new faces and catching up with a few tech people I know from in and around Bristol.
- “Visual Notetaking” by Dr Makayla Lewis: Also known as sketchnoting, visual notetaking is something I am personally very interested in. It was a very practical session, with Makayla teaching attendees techniques for connecting points of data in a way that makes it easily recountable and engaging when reading it back. Lots of stick figures, shapes, arrows and clouds. Her advice was to be free with your marks and not to worry if it’s not a masterpiece. The idea is to convey information, not to create an art piece.If you want to know a bit more about sketchnoting/visual notetaking, why not have a look at my recent blog post on the subject?
- “Structured Content – Scaling your ideas to create better experiences” by Bonny Colville-Hyde & Martina Welander: I was expecting to hear a talk about actual content creation, but what we got was a lot more technically minded than I had anticipated. The workshop was a bit overstretched, with far more people than I think the organisers anticipated wanting to take part, but it still worked. We worked in teams of fifteen or so – first listening to the main body of the talk from Bonnie and Martina, then taking part in a group activity. Having a timed element like that made it dynamic and stretched my brain quite a bit, both for my skillset and for such an early morning activity!The main thing I took from this talk was about categories and tags – the differences between them, how they should be used to be effective and under what circumstances they’re necessary.
Overall, I think we really enjoyed our time and will look forward to attending next year. A big thank you to the organisers, Bristol Usability Group, James Chudley, Stuart Church and Dave Ellender for another great conference. We’re already looking forward to UX Bristol 2017!