Being a Local Leader at the Amazing Interaction Design Foundation

This is my very first story here on Medium, hope you will enjoy and follow! There will be a lot more to read this fall as I am currently working on another 13 stories.

In August 2019 I was appointed to lead IDFs initiative in Linkoping to establish a strong UX community through meet-ups, events, discussion forums, book circles and other forms of activities to advocate for knowledge sharing and networking. People do not have to be paying members of the IDF to participate in your local group.

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Before we dig into the role of a Local Leader, what is Interaction Design Foundation?

IDF is a non-profit organization and being a part of this is free to anyone interested! They are an independent nonprofit initiative with an objective that sounds like a paradox:

“Raise global design education to an Ivy League standard, while at the same time reduce costs to as low as possible.”

In other words, they democratize learning by providing top-quality, online design courses at a fraction of the cost of traditional education.

They collaborate with top universities and companies — Stanford, Cambridge and SAP Labs, for example — as well as noted authors like Clayton Christensen and Don Norman. This means their educational material focuses on practical relevance and is backed up with academic rigor. They share this knowledge with over half a million designers every month!

The Scandinavian education system was their initial inspiration for this mission and, in 2002, the Interaction Design Foundation was established to create low-cost, high-quality education to change the way people learn the science, art and intricacies of design. Since then, they have built a sustainable collaboration and education platform, and have grown our global community to reach 458 Local Groups in 94 countries.

Being a Local Leader is something you should do if you are eager to learn more about UX and facilitate a local community of designers. Being a Local Leader isn’t something you do for money, because there is none. It only exists to evengalize, learn and spread knowledge. How this works and what is required is varying and depending on the city, as IDF Linkoping has around 35 members on the faceboook page right now, at the same time IDF Bengaluru has 982.

As IDF Linkoping might not be able to compete in spreading as much knowledge as the top cities in the world, I would say that Linkoping has a strong UX community, mainly due to many university programs like Cognitive science, Graphical design & communication, Media technology, Design and several other civil engineering programs. We also have some big companies that are heavily investing in UX and recruiting this competence more extensively than ever before.

I took the step to become a Local Leader after having finished 23 of the 29 certification courses at IDF (Story coming for this), as I felt that the online community at IDF offered so much inspiration and knowledge exchange. After having learnt som much through IDF i felt the urge to share my experiences.

Responsibilities of a Local Leader

As a Local Leader, you will be involved in facilitating meet-ups in your city — where designers can network and learn from one another.

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The roles are to:

  • Schedule meet-ups for your Local Group. Local Group meet-ups are free, and can be attended by both IDF members and non-members.
  • If a Local Group member decides to create a Local Group meet-up, you can provide assistance to the member so that the meet-up runs as smoothly as possible.
  • Set up and maintain a Facebook and LinkedIn group for your Local Group. This allows Local Group members to stay in touch and also facilitates the creation of meet-ups.
  • Once a month, link up with your Country Manager(s), who are your first point of contact. You can do so by simply dropping them an email with brief updates on what the Local Group has been up to.

There are a lot of different ways and agendas for meet-ups for local groups, for example:

  • Make a fun and relaxed professional networking session over coffee: Meet other design professionals, be inspired by the various ways interaction design is being done in your local area, get to know your future boss/employee/client/friend, and meet up with people who are just as passionate about design as you are.
  • Invite professional talks by local designers where they can share their experiences. Lots of people have ready-made talks on different subjects: Just invite them to give their talk at your meeting and they will thank you. It will be great for their career.
  • Discuss the local need for Interaction Design and User Experience in your city/country.
  • Discuss how you can help each other — for example, if you all use your Local Group to make the the local community of UX and Design Professionals more visible, more companies in your area will understand the value of UX and Design and thus invest in it.
  • Discuss a specific topic or design issue which you find interesting — for example the Psychology of Online Shopping.
  • Make a study group where you follow and discuss a specific online course/topic.
  • Make a book club where you read and discuss one book at a time.

Call to arms: Join a IDF local group, or create your own if your city does not already have one!

Want to start you a new local group? Think of starting your Local Group as starting a chain reaction: You add a small amount of work/energy in the beginning and very soon other people will add their work/energy, and then — suddenly — you have a thriving and self-sustaining Local Group.

Also, if you are working in Linkoping, studying, living nearby or visit it occasionally please join us either on LinkedIn or Facebook where we will post information and create fun events. Everyone is welcome! You can find the groups below

Best wishes, good luck and spread the knowledge!

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Passionate about creating value and benefits for users while also meeting business goals and product directives.

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