My summary of UX open 2015

The definition of UX

Would it come as a surprise that UX people cannot seem to agree on what user experience is or should be? The different definitions seem to correspond to people’s different perspectives depending on their professional and academic background, current assignments and nature of work. Ranging between a way of doing things to a way of thinking things to not a “way” at all, the definition of user experience is rather far from being widespread, common and agreed upon.

UX is about improving and creating a better world, solving problems and satisfying needs.

UX people seem to also agree on why user experience is important, or at least that it is important. The first lightning talk presentation by Jens Wedin accounts for “the state of UX” in Sweden. The results of Jens research on the landscape of user experience from the perspective of UX people themselves show clearly that they are on a mission to improve and create a better world, solve problems and satisfy needs.

The scope of UX

I noticed that UX people are keen on sharing methods and tools that help them do their work well. Whether it is finding ways of engaging users or working on analysing the gained insights, they are mindful of the differences in approaches and eager to learn from one another.

The principles of UX are now being adopted in and by other domains and in the non-digital realm.

The necessity of UX

One of the biggest challenges that many UX people seem to share is the executive and other stakeholder buy-in. While they expressed frustration with some organisations’ inability and sometimes unwillingness to see the value of user experience, many showed understanding and patience with stakeholders’ having to learn and develop at their own pace. Still, acceptance of user experience as a factor of bringing value to users and customers is on the rise in many organisations. However, it is also often seen exclusively as a facilitator of rising sales figures.

“Will tech exist in the future? Yes. Will users exist in the future? Yes. Then yes, UX designers will also be needed.”Unn Swanström, Netlight Consulting AB.

The ethics of UX

What UX people are also heedful of is differentiating right from wrong. They admit to often treading the fine line between what is best for business and what is best for users. The balance that is hard to achieve, and whose absence is also hard to notice.

“Deliberate friction is a means to encourage users to make conscious decisions on their way to achieving the goal.”Per Axbom, Axbom Innovation AB.

Instead, he challenges UX people not to become obsessed with conversion rate optimisation as he argues for and urges the need of deliberately creating obstacles on users’ paths. This way we can encourage users to make conscious decisions and satisfy them in their experience stretching beyond the screen interaction and make sure we strike the balance between business goals and users’ needs.

“By designing for extremities, we contribute to more sustainable products that include more people.” – Sara Lerén, inUse AB.

Sara makes a case for inclusive design as opposed to mainstream and exclusive design. As an example, she questions traditional norms of asking for one’s gender in an online form and only providing two options — male and female. She argues that if there is a well-grounded reason for you to know the gender of your users, you must not make an assumption of everyone fitting in one or the other category.

Conclusion

The expectations I had coming to UX open 2015 were skyscraper-high. What I saw, learned and experienced made me soar above the highest building in the capital city. I am glad I could be part of an event made possible by the participants themselves. This conference format has proven to me to be most effective. Now, this is my picture of UX open. I am eager to see you paint and share yours.

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