An Event Apart Conference Recap

An Event Apart Conference Recap


       An Event Apart is a series of three-day-long UX Conferences held throughout the US in the following locations: Washington DC, Seattle, Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Orlando. An Event Apart offers attendees three full days of "design, code and content"- three days worth of opportunity to learn, connect, and explore. An Event Apart (AEA) offer presentations and panels from industry leaders, thinkers, and innovators, focusing on a range of topic today and tomorrow.

Below is a compilation of some of the most relevant points from some sessions I was able to attend. More information and resources can be found here.

Making Research Count, Cyd Harrell 

What is the Importance of Research?

  • What do we need to make research matter?
    • Relationships
    • Having support from non-UX folks
    • Budget
    • Participation
    • Tangible outcomes
  • Research counts when it answers a question people care about
  • Research explores beyond just the numbers and stats and connects to the human experience
  • Curious people with power are the most useful ones to influence
  • How do we show that research is important?
    • Who in your organization is disconnected from the user?
    • Invite team along, show them what you are doing
  • People who get to ask a question buy into the results
    • People get more invested if they can contribute to the discussion 
  • “Research is our product & the rest of our organization is our users”
  • Refocus people from thinking about ROI to thinking about positive value

Who should we do research on (results become more reliable as you move further down the list)

  • Team members
  • Friends, not on your team
  • Target customers
  • Real users with recent experience
  • Real users with current needs
  • Real users with a need this hour

Talking Back: Conversation Design for VUIs, Laura Martini

Designing for voice command

  • Industries using voice command
    • Games, Finance, Publishing, Health, Travel, Food, Marketing
  • Pros
    • Web or mobile interactions can require many clicks
    • Allows for hands-free scenarios
    • Could develop into a conversation
  • Cons
    • Better interaction on mobile and web
    • High switching costs

Voice Design Principles

  • Grice’s Cooperative Principle: assume good intent when talking to people
  • Grice’s Four Maxims
    • Quantity: don’t want to give too much info
    • Quality: tell the truth
    • Relation: conversation is relevant to ask
    • Manner: keep conversation focused and use appropriate language

Making a VUI

  • Step 0: Is voice appropriate?
    • KPIs and Metrics
      • What is the product trying to accomplish
      • What are you trying to do
  • Step 1: Tone & Personality, Persona
    • “When people hear a voice they unconsciously assign a personality to it”
    • What subset of customers will use VUI
    • Describe a single person
    • Distill existing brand guidelines into a few key attributes
  • Step 2: Storyboarding and sample dialogs
    • Sample dialogs are the wireframes of conversation design
    • Roleplaying is a useful tool to start brainstorming
  • Step 3: Testing
    • Wizard of oz testing: build off nothing, just start building
  • Step 4: Scripting
    • Intents
    • Take into account failure states
    • Repair conversations: how can we redirect people if the conversation isn’t going well
  • Step 5: Build
    • Dialog flows

Inclusive, by Design, Derek Featherstone

Designing for inclusion

  • Two types of inclusion
    • Inclusion in product
    • Inclusion in process
  • Often people with disabilities are involved very late in the design process after the design decisions have already been made
    • Basically, “We have made this product, now tell us if we built it right”
    • What we need to do is involve people with disabilities earlier in the design process

How can we make our designs more inclusive to people with disabilities?

  • Embrace diversity by default, not as a nice-to-have
  • Acknowledge your privilege, and your power, and your position in the design process
  • Ask “How can we include more people with disabilities earlier and more meaningfully in the process?”
  • Spend more time including people with disabilities exploring the problem space instead of the solution space
  • Ask “How are people already solving this problem?”
    • Microsoft is doing a great job of designing for inclusivity
  • Work with people with disabilities as co-designers
  • Ask “Based on the last project, how can we improve our process to be more inclusive?”
  • How can we measure inclusion in our process?

How can we meet inclusion goals?

  • Agency: You should have the ability and opportunity to participate in solutions that you will use, and that will impact your life
  • Belonging / Othering: Your participation should be predicated on using the same tools, at the same time, in the same space, using the same process as anyone, to the greatest extent possible
  • Value: Your participation in a process is valued rather than tolerated or accommodated

READ MORE: AnxietyTech Conference Recap 2019, The UX of PoliticsGame UX Summit Recap 2019, Tracking Mental Health with UX Research Methods 

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Nhan Vu

Nhan is a Senior User Researcher and mental health advocate, with a background in program management, health education, and youth empowerment. In addition to leading and assisting on user research projects to improve a client's hiring tools, Nhan specializes in building culture and celebrating diversity within the team. He has led multiple initiatives for Key Lime and previous companies to improve cross-team engagement and provide a safe space where employees can celebrate being themselves. Nhan transfers his experience in mental health education to user research by asking the right, sometimes hard, questions that aim to get to the root of the issues. He believes we shouldn’t be afraid to explore tough conversations. Nhan has a BS in Environmental Economics and Policy from U.C. Berkeley. Before joining Key Lime Interactive, Nhan spent 3 years in non-profit program management


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