Last week Danny Fontaine and I were lucky enough to attend the Behaviour Day at this years UX London 2013. Speakers included Genevieve Bell (what an amazing life this lady has had!) – Director of Intel’s Interaction and Experience Research group, Peter Merholz – Vice President of Design at Groupon, with afternoon workshops run by trailblazers such as pioneer of Lean UX Jeff Gothelf and James Kalbach – who previously served as Head of Information Architecture at Razorfish and is author of Designing Web Navigation.
Peter Merholz talking at UX London 2013
There is too much for me to talk about in one blog post so I just wanted to share a couple of the topics that caught my attention and imagination:
1. The rise of the machines
Genevieve Bell gave a really great talk entitled ‘Ducks, dolls & robots: a genealogy of socio-technical anxieties’, where she explored societies fear of technological advances and the history of that fear. From the 1812 Luddite uprising where mechanical weaving looms were destroyed for taking people’s jobs (how times have changed eh?) to literary works that have shaped our imagination such as Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and films like Terminator.
This talk spoke to me a lot as I am one of those people who does fear some kind of Skynet ruled world of Terminator machines. But should I really be worried? Or is my fear just from watching too many sci-fi movies and from listening to the subtle bashing technology gets in the press, such as ‘Too Much ‘Screen Time’ For Kids Could Cause Long-term Brain Damage, Warn Experts’ ?
Only time will tell I guess….
For a lighter take on machines coming to life, check out the story of Brad the toaster by Simone Rebaudengo.
See also: designedaddictions.tumblr.com
2. What exactly is User Experience (UX)?
This was one of the main topics covered in Peter Merholz’s talk entitled ‘Reframing UX as a Profession’. His talk was particularly interesting as it’s been one of the many things we’ve been debating here at Valtech. The issue seems to be industry wide and Peter gave us some interesting points to mull over. They included:
- UX needs to stop talking of itself as the I.A and wireframes people – I couldn’t agree more. So often that is how UX is perceived but people don’t realise that other skills such as design and strategic thinking are all part of it.
- UX is a leadership role (though not necessarily a management role) – Peter equates this to a film director who brings together many disciplines on the film set. For UX it’s bringing together the various skills in a humanistic way.
- UX is more than just the interface experience – User experience is affected by business development, marketing, engineering, customer service, retail, as well as product and service design – essentially all the different touch points a user (or person) has.