In mid of September I (Claudia Oster) visited the Webexpo in Prague. The program of the 2-day-conference is aimed at web developers as well as at designers and this year the topics were scattered from Design Thinking, Story Telling, AI and Machine Learning to AR / VR to ReactJS and Talks about Performance on the Web. I focused on the design-related talks.
Let me briefly summarize the many impressions in 4 key-take-aways:
- Divergent and Convergent working everywhere
In many talks, the use of Design Thinking or Double Diamond as the basis of the design process has been discussed both explicitly and implicitly – from IBM’s “Enterprise Design Thinking” to Firefox’s use of Event Storming and Facebook’s approach to the design process to using it as a basis for workshop design by MSD. It is always about the phases of concrete beginning (for example, clear vision) and then the broad search for ideas.
Then it’s time to focus on selecting ideas, implementing them prototypically and testing them. The use of cross-functional teams is always seen as an important part in this process.
- Agile & UX – diverse maturity level
Agile behavior is perceived as standard in the community and even faster iterations are used, e.g. in design sprints to develop and test ideas with even faster feedback cycles. However, there are still companies in which the agile approach and the integration of UX in this process – including user research and user testing – are by no means the standard.
To illustrate this I want to tell you an example: a scrum masters commented in a project: “We do not need to ask people what they want. We are the experts. “- However, it should be clear to everyone in UX or product development that user involvement is the key to the success for every product.
It was also difficult for the user researcher to understand the advantages the agile process can bring and that the user researcher should also be part of the agile team.
This example shows that it is important to get the entire team on board and to provide the whole team with basic knowledge – both on the subject of UX and in the field of agile methodology.
- Stories, Curiosity & Microcopy to connect with users
How can you get the user so that they “stay with you”? An example of this was the entire story about the “Dollar Shave Club” and the use of a consistent “tone of voice”.
In the talk by Kinneret Yifrah on “Microcopy – how users will fall in love”, she talked about the importance of interacting with the user as if in a conversation and gave the advice “Imagine the user is in front of you – how would you talk to her? “. And fun and joy should be considered when creating the content.
Instead of saying “Your browser is out of date”, a website could respond “Love your vintage browser! Unfortunately, it is a little bit too vintage … “.
- AI/ML & Design for Good
An important topic – which has accompanied me at conferences over the last 2 years – was the focus on “Design for Good”. Designing software is not just about solving a problem, but, as Dan Saffer said, it has a humane function as well:
„If your design makes people more generous, helpful, thoughtful, useful, beautiful, respectful, or kind, it’s good design.”
A real-life example was presented in another talk. Ondřej Machart talked about a social network app for the Czech Olympic team in Pyeongchang and how they tried not (!) to increase the usage of the app through notifications or info about likes. The goal of the app was about improving the sense of community for the Olympic team and the exchange of important information – regardless of whether this happens online via the app or offline.
Book List Expansion
And of course, interesting books are mentioned in almost all talks and why should only my book list get longer 😉
- The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What We Can Learn About Ourselves from Our Machines – Clifford Ness, Carina Yen (Amazon)
- Conversational design – Erika Hall (Book Website)
- Microcopy – Kinnereth Yifrah (Book Website, Amazon)
- Weapons of math destruction – Cathy O’Neil (Book Website, Amazon)
- Technically wrong – Sara Wachter-Boettcher (Book Website)
- Design for real-life – Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher (Book Website)
- Wired for speech – Clifford Nass, Scott Brave (Book Website, Amazon)
- Newsjacking – Jan Burkhart, Grant Hunter (Amazon)
Conference Review of WebExpo
Generally a very great event with interesting speakers and the value for money is very good. It was also the first conference that I noticed very much because of its family friendliness – some babies were there and for the older ones there were own workshops.
The collected recordings of the talks are also provided.