Just…Wow #NUX4

Last week was big for Manchester, not only did the President of China visit, but so too did 600 UX nerds (I feel the use of the word nerd is appropriate here, the attendees, myself included, got excited by a man dressed as chewbacca and like to acquire great amounts of knowledge about our users) for the fourth annual Northern User Experience (NUX) conference.

I reckon I can guess with a lot of accuracy what question you want to ask first about this conference, was a man actually dressed as Chewie?

Well yes, and I gave him a hug…

Now that you can all imagine what I would look like if one day I spouted a lot of hair we can address the more interesting matter of this blog, the talks!

Seven, each individually brilliant, talks were given. Each talk unique and presenting different ideas, but with one common message…

Understand real people!

There have been some fantastic summaries of the day already blogged and tweeted, but my favourite so far has to be @ChrisSpalton sketchnotes. I'm not as handy with a sketch pad as Chris, but I've noted what key takeaways from each talk I took below.

@Tsharon keynote message to start the day was simple, work out needs, not likes!

@Grinblo followed this up by explaining that Clients and Stakeholders can be our (UX’ers) friends and not enemies by carrying a tool-kit around with us.

@StavrosUX complimented this message perfectly by presenting a method of involving clients in the research process through Co-Design

@Albertatrebla poignantly reminded the crowd of the responsibility we have when we are changing user behaviour

@briansuda reversed the conversation to show how we could make analogue work for people by taking lessons from the digital

@clurr presented on the internet of things (IoT) with the message, let’s make sense of the world, others can innovate

@sara_ann_marie closed the show with an incredibly powerful talk on the importance of being kind, design for the worst

After having a weekend to reflect on what I took from the day, I have three top points;

  1. Don’t research in isolation, clients/stakeholders should be immersed in the research to help build that empathy. Although the concept of Co-design looked promising it does scare me. It places a lot of pressure on the users and smells like a focus group.
  2. Problems are the key, as a researcher (and one thing that NUX4 showed is that there isn’t many of us, only a handful of the 600 identified themselves as a researcher) I should deal in questions and problems so that I can make sense of the users world whilst the team I sit in innovate.
  3. “Edge cases” don’t feel like edge cases to those that are stressed by them, we have a responsibility of the content within our services/products so with this we should be kind, design for the worst and be clear why and what we are saying.

Attending events like this remind me why we concentrate on user needs from the start and throughout a service/product development, and as I sat on the train back to Cardiff I couldn't help but think…wow!

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