After last year’s brilliant experience, Gemma and I both decided to go back to UX Bristol. And we weren’t disappointed one bit. From the organisation to the quality of the workshops, everything was top notch.

A winning format

One reason why I love UX Bristol so much is the format. Unlike many other conferences, you don’t sit in a big room listening to people all day. These people may be knowledgeable experts giving very interesting talks, but this type of conferences makes it often quite hard to concentrate fully for a whole day.

Instead, at UX Bristol, you attend hands-on workshops, where the speakers do a short presentation and then ask you to perform a task, usually as a group. Not only is it an interesting challenge intellectually, especially if the topic is not your area of expertise, it also allows you to meet and discuss with everyone around the table.

Besides, you get to choose the workshops you want to attend. 12 workshops in total with 3 running at any one time. And because the places are allocated on a first come, first serve basis, if there is one that you really don’t want to miss, you’d better be quick to get a seat.
This particularity means that you may not be able to attend all the workshops you find interesting. But it’s part of the game, and I like that you can select the talks that appeal to you most.

The day ends with a few 5-minute ‘lightning’ talks, which I always find refreshing. Not sure we could concentrate on anyone talking for more than 5 minutes past 4pm anyway. And of course, to add a bit of fun, the raffle. It’s just unfortunate that neither Gemma nor I, despite our best hopes, didn’t win a thing. Again.

Finally, I’ve been told that the drinks, offered by the sponsors, after the event, were also very much appreciated. I, unfortunately, didn’t get to enjoy these due to other commitments (read, a nursery summer party, which I couldn’t miss of course).

Our 4 workshops

This year, Gemma and I were both interested in the same 4 workshops. Each one of them could be the subject of a whole blog post, so I’m just going to give you a glimpse with a few sentences.

Icon Consequences by Lon Barfield

Icons are playing an important part in UX, but designing them is a challenging task. We’ve realised how tricky expressing ideas visually can be, but foremost how easily icons can be misinterpreted, by playing Chinese whispers, icon-style.

Meta-moments by Andrew Grimes

Probably my favourite talk of the day. Andrew demonstrated how and why, while we’re always trying to make digital experiences seamless and slick, adding disruption to the flow and playing with the users’ expectations can create a more interesting, memorable experience.

The Four Pleasures by Pat Jordan

Pat explained how the best user experiences are delivered when all four pleasures (physical, social, psychological and ideological) are addressed. It certainly did make us think about the users’ needs in a different light.

Hypothesis Sketching by Craig Sullivan

This was the fourth and final workshop of the day, and initially not the one we wanted to attend. But first come, first serve, and I must say I was actually glad I got to see that one. Craig showed why you should only make UX decisions based on qualitative insight and quantitative data, and then measure results and gather feedback.

Gemma Sketching

Food, drinks and organisation

8 hours of listening, sketching, networking and thinking is a long time. You need fuel to stay on top of your game, and once again UX Bristol have delivered brilliantly. Teas, coffees, biscuits, lunch and even a cream tea! What else could you ask for?

As for the organisation, I must say that once again the whole event ran very smoothly and was very enjoyable.

We both definitely look forward to UX Bristol 2016!