Usabilidade = destroy silos - notes from UXLX Conference in Lisbon

Last Friday I had a pleasure of participating in one of the biggest UX (User Experience) related events of the year - UXLX conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Unlike most participants I'm not a designer or UX consultant... I just want to create an amazing User experience for my customers who use Nozbe. I wanted to learn new things and get inspired. My friend Maciek (my UX guru) convinced me to come and give it a try. I can't thank him enough as I learned a lot.
Evernote
The conference lasts three days - two days of workshop and one day of conference - since I didn't know what to expect, I decided to go with just the Conference. What follows are my loose notes from each speaker - if you participated in UXLX you'll understand these better, if you didn't you might find some of the notes confusing and incomplete, but hope they'll tease you to come to Lisbon next year or participate in any other UX event near you :-)

The main theme - Blowing up silos

"Destroy silos. Blow the suckers up. Make people from different departments talk to each other. We are all together in this!"
 - the thing is that people, products, departments, organizations, platforms, you name it... tend to become independent silos that don't talk to each other... and then the UX (User experience) goes sideways... and they should all collaborate with the user in mind. So your job is to make sure that these things work together well for a greater good.

Here are short summaries of talks I listened to:

Louis Rosenfeld: On Not Declaring Victory: Going Beyond User Research

Take your time to search through the logs of activity on your site to see how people are interacting with it. Why are they making specific choices? What's their goal? Is it in line with what you provide? What do they search that you don't have? The key is to blend the quantitative stats with the qualitative ones... with raw numbers it's hard to understand the user.

Christian Crumlish: Playful Design

When people play games they take roles and put masks.They need invitation to play and you need to set them boundaries and rules within the game. People love reaching goals and achieving things, very often by competing with others but also by collaborating. The game needs to have a framework that enables tuning, co-design and a little chaos, because chaos is fun. A good game puts people in a perfect flow.

Nick Finck: The Cross-Channel Experience

People research online and buy offline. Make the transition seamless for them. Observe how they buy your stuff (the whole process) and how they use it later. Look for hacks. Show them the backstage. Queue them in. They actually care and feel more connected then. All customer interactions with your stuff should be in sync.

Stephen Anderson: Critical Thinking Skills for UX Designers

Be a Z-shaped person - find opportunities to change the game. Reframe problems, check different perspectives and understand emotions people are going through and try to inject more positive feelings when you can. Again, backstage helps. Combine your experience in one thing with a different expertise to offer a better ways of doing things. Constraints keep you focused and boost creativity. Launch in a weekend an MVP. Assume you don't know anything. The details make all the difference.

(by the way, get his full presentation on Slideshare - it rocks!)

Kristina Halvorson: Content/Communication

Content is not a thing, it's the whole web-strategy. There is structure with substance of content with proper workflow and governance for people. Curate your content thinking about the end-user - use it yourself to try it. It must be valuable and relevant. Use stories (people relate to them - Wall-e), use metaphors (yes, people do have imagination - plant?) and then draw how you want it to be.

Josh Clark: Cage Match: Mobile Web vs Native App

Platforms are like different cultures. Every mobile OS is different. Blackberry users text a lot, iPhone users buy and show off, Android users are nerds (although as the phones get cheaper they'll be mainstream?). Windows is a former champion coming back with Nokia. 70% of US people have no apps - think about SMS app first. Native apps - for doing, Web for the reference. You need a web-app anyway. For native choose where you users are and show off your best stuff. Great API is the key.

Christopher Fahey: Squandering the Cognitive Surplus

Gamification of stuff - don't force it - only where it makes sense and is really relevant. Good experiences are good stories. Focus on backend to do magic. Ad people have really good algorithms for figuring out users. "Best minds do things to make us click ADS." Use this power to give user a better experience.

Dario Buzzini: The Manual of Detection

Good UX person is a good detective. Documentation - walk a CEO through his product and ask him how he's experience been. He'll understand users' perspective. Use interface to make waiting pleasant. Lie visually. People Say, Think, Do and Feel differently. Find your contrary thing and fight it to achieve greatness.

And finally the Keynote:

Don Norman: Living with Complexity

When asked to solve a problem - REFUSE. They always ask about solving a wrong problem. Think about solution and anti-solution. Complex is lots of things going on, Complicated means confusing. We need complexity, because life is complex. When skills improve, you want the stuff you use to be more complex. Complexity should increase over time. Rapid prototyping: morning - design, afternoon - build, evening - test, next day refine and repeat. Add social signifiers and good design, sometimes lie in design to make complex things look easy (nice folder structure vs complex file system) - to solve problems you need a "whole systems" approach like the iPod.

Whew... that's about it. Of course my notes were more thorough but here are the key concepts I took away from the conference... my head is spinning in circles and I've got lots of ideas how we can improve the UX of Nozbe even more... Many thanks to Bruno for organizing and Fernanda for being a great executive organizer of the event. Enjoyed it immensely.

I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2011 (business,uxlx)