UXThursday Toronto 2014 Part 2

I’m covering some of the stuff I scribbled down and learned about at UIE/VitaminT’s UXThursday Toronto in Toronto on Thursday, November 20, 2014.

Part 1 is at part 1 here click here.

Work with your Biggest Skeptics

Robert Barlow-Busch — Designing for Disruptive Innovation

Robert told us about some interesting work he did with an unnamed shipping company to try and compete in the online space. Ultimately the project was completely canned because it wouldn’t lead people to shipping documents on planes more, but a lot was learned along the way.

  • Show Don’t Tell: I’ve bumped into this whippersnapper a lot as it is the first rule of writing fiction. It applies so much the same way in research, and design, and probably everywhere.
  • Field Research >>> Focus Groups. In focus groups, people lie. Go to where they work. Follow them to bed. See what cereal they eat. You’ll realize how they really work instead of how they know they should be working. (the focus group said security was #1 concern. field research, even with same people, it didn’t show up).
  • Include Skeptics In Your Process. Robert was initially intimidated by the hulk-hogan-like-child-prodigy-secret-service-hacker who was to develop the project but brought him along, explained the research and ended up with a strong and very valuable cross-disciplinary ally .
  • Things to look up: application posture, innovator’s dilemma, user story mapping book.

Everything is Research. Research is Everything. Research Everything.

Matt Nish-Lapidas — the Answers Are In The Research

Matt talked about Normative Design’s work with Sick Kid’s Hospital’s new Global Research website. They knew they needed a new site, but they didn’t really know why or what or how. He described some processes to get to the heart of what a client wants instead of what the client is asking for.

  • Finding out the real goals comes before knowing what a project is.
  • Talk to potential donors. Ask “what would get you to donate?”
Why I don’t do sketchnotes
  • This wicked double diamond diagram of a two stage generative/integrative process. First you research-analyze-synthesize-filter opportunities to give you a plan. Then you explore, prototype, test/refine, implement. Then you are done!
  • Don’t sell a client on something because it’s easy for you to give them. A pre-project to research what the client really needs may be a best first-project. If you can’t deliver that, refer them, and you stand a good chance of doing business again sometime.

It is a Long Road to the Alpha Quadrant of UX Acceptance

Andrea Ong Pietkiewicz — Designing For The Customer Experience

Andrea’s sketchnote of her own talk

Andrea’s talk was probably the most entertaining of the bunch. I could probably let her sketchnote of her own talk and her slideshare do the explaining, and I largely will.

  • You have to have to do usability testing onsite in context. It is not a NASA mission (Show Don’t Tell and all that).
  • Enjoy being an educator. You will need allies. You make them where you do not find them.
  • Hands-on research with users is important because while we’re at work sometimes we go robot, forget that we’re humans, and just expect that people will want to share our shitty content.

Screen Width is not What Responsive Design Should Respond To

Derek Featherstone — Designing For Context, Not The Device

Derek drew from his life as a father to show how to them and to him a cardboard box is a lot of different things depending on a lot of different variables. He encouraged us to think beyond the size of a screen when trying to design responsively. Instead we should design to context.

Context is: time, location, proximity, device, state of mind, capabilities, activity, interests, interaction, etc

Using UXCamp Ottawa as a case study, he analyzed how different content could apply differently depending on the situation.

  • You can graph the importance of content relative to time, where some content is more or less important at different dates. That can be programmatically built into a site.
  • Include relevant info dynamically in a title to assist scanning and screenreaders.
  • Set Monday or Sunday start of week as the start of week based on IP Address.
  • Provide different information based on if you are overseas, in the same city or within walking distance from the venue.

And another great sketchnote from Andrea Ong Pietkiewicz.


I had a great time at UXThursday. The talks bent my brain in new and interesting directions and I have a list of resources to look at more in depth. If I had one point of feedback: it would be valuable if some of the talks had a narrower focus on some of the tools and methods they covered. That’s hard in 30 minutes, though. I guess me other gripe is that I can’t really say “I can’t wait till next year” because this beast don’t fly that way.

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