I recently attended one of the largest UX events, NUX2 (http://uxmanc.co.uk/) on Friday 25th Oct 2013. Hosted at the Comedy Store in Manchester, England, it proved to be a good venue for the conference. Despite it being a pretty much a full house for the vast majority of the day, it also highlighted just how small the creative and development community in Manchester is as there was a few familiar faces in attendance. In any case, it was a great day filled with a number of very informative talks from some of the leading experts within their field coupled with some very good tips on all aspects of UX and Agile methodologies as well as some psychology and branding tips. Certainly worth using a day’s holiday from the day job. In all there was eight speakers ranging from topics such as branding, agile, usability testing, motivating users and of course, user experience.

The speakers

The speakers included Mike Atherton talking about Branding: All in the Mind; Jane Murison from the BBC about putting the User Experience (UX) into Design; Jamie Trollope from the DVLA about Customer Insight in an Agile Environment; Joe Leech from CX Partners talking about how Forms are Boring; Ria Sheppard from eBay Europe about Creating a Spark, doing workshops and getting people collaborating on projects; David Hamill explaining some tips and tricks for Usability Testing (UT); an energeric Mark McNeill from Trader Media Group on just How Usable is UX? Then finally a closing keynote from Susan Weinschenk about How to Get People to Do Stuff.

Takeaway points and thoughts

All the talks were really insightful and each had a number of takeaway remarks to ponder on, some of which are outlined below. The slideshow of Mike’s talk is here. It is also worth checking out the Twitter hashtag ‘NUX2’ for some standout moments and quotes from the day. As most of the talks touched upon the same themes and thoughts, I thought it will be a good idea to outline some of these:

  • Collaboration between all stakeholders in any project is absolutely vital, no one role can claim to be silo’ed especially in Agile. It never helps anyone working in isolation as inevitably each individual will develop their own processes and will go off on a tangent and will deliver different solutions.
  • Developing a solution that fails to meet the initial requirements is OK as long as some learning is taken from it, fail fast but fail better. If you’re not failing, you’re doing it wrong!
  • Branding is everyone’s responsibility, brand reputation is everyone’s responsibility and everyone should speak with one tone of voice.
  • Do your own research, test your own solutions but never try and prove a point through testing. Test with the right end-users, ask open ended questions for clarity of the feedback.
  • Start with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP), ask what features are critical to the product then work up from there, it helps getting the core functionality right quickly and prevents the features overwhelming the user and the experience.
  • By testing product A and product B, be prepared to build and test product C.
  • A change in environment can put people at ease and therefore will be more forthcoming with their thoughts.
  • Cute is not that only tone of voice.
  • Core functionality forms the foundation of the UX hierarchy, not how it looks.
  • Plan, Develop, Testing/Feedback, React and Release then around again are the fundamental elements of an Agile development cycle. Testing is tightly integrated within Agile and is performed at every stage of development.
  • Don’t be afraid of negative (but constructive) feedback.
  • Learn, Design, Build then Measure, UX is the glue that holds everything together.

Takeaway quotes

Here is some takeaway quotes from the various speakers. Some of these talks I may expand upon in future posts. I took plenty of notes down throughout the day although some videos of the talks will be available at a later date from the NUX organisers.

  • Design like you’re right but test like you’re wrong.
  • We love choice, but hate choosing.
  • Understanding what motivates people means you can get them to do the stuff you want them to do.
  • Prevent features trumping experiences.
  • People are more motivated by fear of loss than by anticipation of gain.
  • UX is the glue that hold everything together.
  • Use pictures. Words are slippery things.
  • User centred design sits here. The power of small and focused teams.
  • Be human, relax and make mistakes…
  • Comparing A and B? Then get ready to make C.
  • Every design is broken. There’s always something to fix.
  • 10% of people are red green colourblind, so don’t JUST use colour to show if you’ve filled a form in wrong.
  • Give your users a sense of progress in forms.
  • Just because HTML5 allows you to do something, doesn’t mean you have to.
  • Fields are where cows live. Don’t expect users to understand terminology.
  • Many people don’t know what asterisks mean on online forms!
  • Using an outside in approach for journey mapping – look at how the service is experienced & define the customers needs at each stage.
  • Touch points do not equal channels. A touch point can take place across multiple channels.
  • Even 1 percent of failures to find things cause massive impact to a call centre.
  • A well designed product turns it’s user into a superhero.

Useful Resources

Here is a small selection of some useful resources that were mentioned during the day.

Conclusion

After some closing remarks and getting some useful goodies from Thoughtworks and sweeties from the LadiesThatUX (thanks!), it was time for getting back home and wrapping up the several pages of notes I made. It was a good day, crammed full with useful tips and tricks for getting the most out of my development projects in the future. I certainly hope to put some of the thought above into practice in the near future. It is exciting to know that the NUX will be a yearly event so I’m eagerly looking forward to hearing more about the event next year. I would definitely recommend NUX3 to anyone involved with the digital design and development realm based on the quality of the speakers at NUX2. They have set a very high benchmark for themselves now. Big well done and thanks to the organisers and the sponsors of the event.

If anyone wants to throw a few photos of the day this way (you’ll be fully credited as my phone wasn’t up to the task) or wants to add anything else that I have missed, drop me a message.