Our SXSW 2015 Highlights!

This year, the UX Connections team travelled to sunny Texas for SXSW Interactive 2015. Here are a some of our highlights from the trip:


“Think Like An Animator”

By Kevin Grant & Zack Sultan, Tumblr

Zack and Kevin from Tumblr during their talk about animation principles

One of our favourite talks this year was by Kevin and Zack, who work on the Tumblr android app. These two guys who were clearly very passionate about their work on the android application, talked an enthused crowd through the link between design and animation — focusing on how we, as designers, can use the principles of animation pioneered by disney to give our apps an improved sense of reality. Likening our apps to on-screen characters, Kevin and Zack taught us how we can learn from the vast improvements in animation over the last 70 years and how we can apply the same principles to bring life to the micro-interactions within our apps.

“Good interfaces have skeletons, and good animations should have a spine”

We were amazed at how simple some of these principles were. Tiny adjustments to the spacing of inbetweens and animation timing can make an app feel so much more “real” - and the animation within our products really should have an element of real life. Elements of an app should move naturally, as if in real life!

“If nothing in real life has linear motion, why are we still seeing it in apps?”
The Keynote from Kevin and Zack’s talk

This talk ended with Kevin challenging the audience to design their next app with animation in mind — rather than as an afterthought; which is definitely something we will be considering!

“A Fireside Chat With..”

Jesse James Garrett, Co-Founder of Adaptive Path

A fireside chat with Jesse James Garrett, Co-founder of Adaptive Path

Jesse James Garrett is somewhat of a UX legend, after founding Adaptive Path — the company all UX consultancies aspire to be. Recently, however, Adaptive Path was acquired by banking giant Capital One, becoming their in-house UX team — which was met with mixed opinion.

Starting with a story from a recent UX conference, where he was approached in a toilet and interrogated “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS?!” — it was clear Jesse was using this talk as an opportunity to explain the rationale behind his decision to join forces with Capital One.

It immediately became really clear that this was not a decision Adaptive Path took lightly, and in fact they had previously turned down a lot of offers from lots of other companies. The Capital One merge just seemed right. The opportunity Adaptive Path have sounds really exciting — being a ‘young’ bank in a world of financial old-timers, Capital One and Adaptive Path are now in the unique position where the idea of change is met with excitement and the phrase “but this is how we’ve always done things..” is never uttered.

And thinking about it, what a great opportunity this is — the chance to come into a financial organisation and completely revolutionise their banking experience at all touchpoints: in-store to ATM, apps to bank statements; there’s certainly a great deal for Adaptive Path to get their teeth into and we’re really excited to see what Capital One begin to roll out over the coming months.

It should also be noted that the whole of SXSW, it was clear that Capital One do appreciate the ‘legend status’ Adaptive Path have built in the UX community, and are ready to embrace a better banking experience — pivoting their SXSW campaign around #bankonux.

Interestingly, this talk ended with the question — “If you could change one trait about the human race, what would it be?”

Jesse simply stated —“More empathy.”

“Music UX: Connecting Technology & Experience For Fans”

John Paul (featuring.me), James Apollo (POSSIBLE), Justin Evans (LANDR) and Alaina Thetford (Train Case Management)

“Music UX” was one of the best panels we saw over the week

Being so famous for its live music heritage, you can't spend time in Austin without catching a live band or two — and being huge music fans we took the opportunity to catch a number of the live bands performing throughout the city. However, being UX consultants we couldn’t miss the chance to catch a discussion around the crossovers between UX and the music industry on SXSW’s convergence day.

This brought up some really interesting conversation surrounding what UX can learn from music (could we tour a digital product the same way a musician tours an album?) and then what music can learn from UX. We found it particularly interesting hearing the panels thoughts on whether musicians could employ a UX testing process during their album writing — perhaps employing A/B testing to select songs? or focus groups for fan feedback? Establishing where musicians draw the line between creating a product which their “users” are going to enjoy, whilst maintaining artistic integrity was fascinating.

This talk also threw up one of my favourite UX quotes from the week — “UX designers should have as little ideas as possible and focus on understanding users” — which we really think sums up how we can all become better UX designers.

Did you go to SXSW this year? What were your highlights? If you’re on the fence about going next year — we couldn’t recommend it enough!

Tweet us @uxconnections!

Written by Tom Adcock, UX Consultant @ UX Connections

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