As a digital product development firm, UX and Design play a critical role in the Smashing Boxes development process. Given my role in project/account/program management, I have the opportunity to work with wonderfully talented and inquisitive UX/Design professionals. The pace of innovation is rapid, so it’s important for me to keep up with the latest UX tools, trends, and best practices. I recently attended the UX Y’all Conference, hosted by Triangle UXPA. This year's themes focused on “inclusion and collaboration.”
Here are 6 highlights from the conference.
1. AI and Implicit Bias
The day started strong with a talk on “Design for Cognitive Bias” with Keynote Speaker David Dylan Thomas. As the podcaster and Principal Content Strategist for Think Company, Thomas discussed several brain-tingling examples of how design decisions within technology can positively and negatively support our cognitive bias. I was particularly struck by two stories from Amazon that represented two sides of that coin: Amazon’s AI recruiting tool, which so heavily excluded women they had to scrap it (negative), compared to Amazon Go, the first cashier-less store that removes the implicit bias of employees (positive).
2. Usability Testing
Leah Kauffman, a Senior UX Researcher at Lenovo, delivered the session “Two Heads Are Better Than One: Usability Testing with Duos and Groups = More Fun & Richer.” Kauffman discussed how using dyads (two-person focus groups) allows her to observe usability more closely; this approach aids in uncovering insights by listening to the Q&A that occurs between participants. Kauffman also shared how letting groups co-create landing pages allowed her to observe the needs of a system, not just an individual, by listening to how the participants negotiated priorities to create a proposed solution.
3. Vocal Interface Design
In “Hearing Voices: Considering the Complexity of Vocal Interface Design,” Gretchen McNeely, Experience Architect at Accenture Digital, and Scott McCall, UX Design Lead at IBM, highlighted the importance of getting the details of voice interactions right. We need to consider the implications and expectations for elements such as voice gender when designing for audio, and what precedent it sets. With at least 50 percent of all online searches becoming voice searches by 2020, work and development in this space will be critical in the coming years.
4. UX & Product Strategy
In “UX & Product Collaboration: A Discussion about Building Better Partnerships and Reducing Friction throughout the Product Design Lifecycle” Joe Gonwa, Product Leader at Teamworks , and Ashley Willard, Senior Product Manager at Apiture, led an interactive session on UX and Product collaboration. Using sli.do for real-time polling and discussion with the audience, they hit on two common UX themes: design asking product for more time and to be brought in earlier and product asking for design to be thinking about the business context, not just a singular detail.
5. Workshopping 101
Another highlight from UX Y'all was the session by Erik Johnson, Purpose UX co-founder and UX designer, “How to Run a Workshop People Won’t Hate.” This class provided clean and easy steps to creating a workshop. Practical tips such as note and vote to avoid bandwagon effect; asking people to write down their answers to avoid lengthy responses and encourage participation from everyone; and his number one tip: call every participant prior to the workshop and talk with them for 15-20 minutes.
This last and simple tool prepares him for potential landmines, provides confirmation that the workshop will cover critical topics, establishes trust and rapport, and allows people to feel heard.
6. UX, Design & the Lean Startup
In the final keynote address “Designing for Impact,” Kim Williams, Senior Director at Designs Platform Indeed, shared practical tips for the design community to get a better understanding of your company's or client’s OKRs (objectives and key results). She walked through the power of using Lean Canvas and championing designers to think strategically about their solutions in order to gain alignment and enroll key stakeholders. She closed with a note on Bloom’s Taxonomy, a set of hierarchical models used to classify educational learning objectives into levels of complexity and specificity, which places “create” at the top of the pyramid.
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Smashing Boxes is a creative technology lab that partners with clients, taking an integrated approach to solving complex business problems. We fuse strategy, design, and engineering with a steady dose of entrepreneurial acumen and just the right amount of disruptive zeal. Simply put, no matter what we do, we strive to do it boldly. Let's talk today!
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