UX Scotland: Lightning Talks

The talks at the end of Day 1 of UX Scotland ranged from fear and loathing in London to doing UX in startups.

I’m sharing notes from UX Scotland 2014, which took place in Edinburgh Thursday and Friday this week.

The lighting talks at UX Scotland ranged from fear and loathing in London to doing UX in startups.

Alex Humphry-Baker of Mallzee (they had me at “the Tinder of fashion”) spoke about doing UX in a startup. For all of the buzz about startups and UX, there hasn’t been much actually said about it, so her brief talk was a welcome contribution.
She spoke about how to challenge stakeholders’ suggestion on UX when you’re the only designer in the room. She succeeded on one particular UI issue by using iOS app and bug reporter Lookin as well as prototyping app Invision and screen recorder Silverback to quickly and cheaply run tests (she also managed to wrangle a deal for incentives, which helped). Running the test also meant that she’s been able to get more respect for her expertise and hopefully should get less pushback in the future.

Greg Hoyna spoke about edge cases and how they can backfire: e.g. being the rare non-Government Digital Systems employee that has to go to their London HQ and finding that there’s no physical address online. It’s possibly a reminder to always check your site for obvious omissions (I’m reminded of a Kiwi whose frustration with forms that’s demanded the US or UK 6 number postcode rather than the 4 number NZ one: he would retaliate by always putting in ‘90210’). Or that the GDS’s ‘digital first’ strategy may have sometimes gone a bit too far. As it turns out, there is a Foursquare location, but having been burnt by addresses changing I’m always a little wary of using them without checking for activity.

Finally, Adrian Howard talked about better organisations. He’d picked up on earlier speaker Aras Bilgen being part of the product and innovation team in his company, and noted the strange issue that only certain people in companies apparently get to be innovative: is working on the legacy team used as a a punishment? In contrast, he cited Conway’s Law that the type of products a company can make reflects its organisational structure. So, if a rigid hierarchy results in un-innovative products, then a more open structure such as those proposed by Balanced Team and Ocean Learning may lead to more innovative products.

Vicky Teinaki is a user experience designer at Newcastle upon Tyne agency Orange Bus. She is also working on a PhD at Northumbria University about better ways of communicating design methods within the design industry.