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Spotlighted Talks

Keynote: All You Really Need to Know About Users You Learned In High School (More or Less)

User research? A fad!

Personas? Like I don't know enough real people and have to make some up.

Usability? Hey, if that shopping cart was good enough for Amazon, I'm sure it'll work just fine for us.

Not everything requires user testing, okay? We learned plenty long before we read any of those fancy books or paid for conferences just to have late-night drunken conversations about taxonomies.In this presentation, we will revisit key lessons we learned back in the halcyon days of our early lives and trace the shocking relevance of what we already know to the 21st century's biggest user experience challenges.

More about Dan Willis

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Keynote: Design for Engagement

Whether you design websites or shopping malls, hospitals or mobile phones, you're designing for people, and people want to be engaged by the products and services in their lives. But human engagement comes in many different forms, and traditional design practices don't say much about creating engagement.

As design evolves toward delivering integrated experiences across media, designers need ways to understand modes of engagement and mechanisms for creating it. In this presentation, Jesse James Garrett looks at ways the designers of all kinds of products and services can maximize the human engagement of their work..

More about Jesse James Garrett

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Keynote: The Secret Lives of Links

Links are the molecular bonds of our web sites, holding all the pages together. They are the essence of a web site. Yet, what do we really know about them? If you create great links, your users easily find everything they need on your site. If you do a poor job, your users will find your site impossible or frustrating.We never discuss what truly makes a good link good. Until now. Jared will show you the latest thinking behind the art and science of making great links. Join him for this entertaining and amusing look at the secret lives of our site's links.

More about Jared Spool

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Keynote: Design for Life

The term "user experience" is part of a historical series: controls, usability, interface, interaction, user experience,.... Each term in this series labels an era of work and conversation, through which we've all been learning how to create bridges between people and systems, and between people through systems. At each step, we've realized our scope is too narrow: to do good work, to create in ways that are more likely to be helpful than harmful, to create wonderful stuff, we have to include more  context, broader spans of time, and see through more points of view. And each of these stages involves letting go of control -- accepting the messy realities of life and learning to work inside its uncertainties rather than trying to control them.

This talk will be a report from a personal exploration of what it might be like to continue the series. I'm interested to know whether there could be a practice of creating healthy human societies, and what that practice might look like. I don't have the answer yet, but the exploration is already influencing my work and suggesting new frameworks. I'll take us on a flyover of some of the ideas, projects and people that have been inspiring me over the past two years. These are mostly from outside the world of UX. Some are from the streets, some are from design studios, some are from the pens of poets. Together they provide clues about how our skills, methods, and personal abilities can have greater positive impact on life.

More about Marc Rettig

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Thinking with Your Hands

Your hands are more important than you think. In UX, we tend to view the hands as a way of expressing intentions: press a button; move the cursor; make some gesture. But research on how people use their hands has established a deep and complex relationship between our hands and our minds. In short, our hands help us think.

What does this mean for designing the next-generation of digital objects? Touch surfaces are now common, and the near-future will bring a swarm of new interactive technologies that are deeply dependent on our hands. To design for these technologies, we need an enhanced understanding of how we interact with the world around us.

In this presentation, I will explore current research on how people use their hands and what this means for the future of UX design. I will place special emphasis on three topics. First, the notion of the embodied mind, which argues that the boundary of our mind extends beyond the skull. Second, what we know about how people use their hands to interact with digital information, especially multitouch surfaces. Third, emerging concepts and principles for guiding the design of interactive digital objects that depend on the hands.

More about Karl Fast

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UX Research in the Real World: Stories from Rwanda

When I went to Rwanda in June 2010, I learned that methodically structured research does not succeed in Rwandan teacher training schools. My team aimed to help teacher trainers improve education through expanding their access to resources and their ability to talk to one another through the web. Before we could answer our research questions, we had a few others to answer.

What do you do when you cannot stick to a schedule? How do you find participants when you cannot recruit ahead of time? What can you do without an equipped lab?

The answers to these questions required that we adapt our approaches to fit within a culture new to us. Each school we visited and each person we encountered offered a chance to refine the way we worked.

In the end, our revised approach not only allowed us to learn what we hoped to find out, but also encouraged us to explore opportunities that yielded unanticipated discoveries. Even with the trip half a year behind me, I find that its lessons have continued to affect the way I plan and moderate user experience research.

During this lightning talk, I will share the stories from my experience doing UX research in the real world. For the most part, you will get to sit back and enjoy story time. But don't get too comfy— I will ask for some sharing, and there may even be a language lesson. Wherever you do your research and whatever audience you serve, my stories from Rwanda will provide a fresh perspective on user experience research.

More about Veronica Erb

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Empowering Teens through Design Education

What are the real benefits of design education for teens?

This presentation overviews a design education partnership with 6th, 7th and 8th graders, at George Washington Carver Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio. Completed June 2010, the 12-session course explored user-centered design through architecture. It was developed and taught by Larissa Itomlenskis, interaction designer, and Drew McKeown, architect. The collaboration was made possible through the organization and support of the nonprofit Progressive Arts Alliance.

Our main challenge was to make design accessible, fun, and relevant. We began with a discussion on how good design solves problems. As introduction, students were challenged to imagine how various user groups (examples included: samurais, NBA stars, snow boarders, or elderly people) might react within different environments (examples included: the moon, a monster truck rally, or an active volcano).

Our goal was to empower students to build a final project they were passionate about. Students explored problems they wanted to solve, and translated their brainstorming into a unique building design. They created floorplans, used Google SketchUp software to build 3D models, and created presentations explaining how their design affected target user groups. Student concepts were diverse and examples include education centers, recreation centers, sport training facilities, dream houses, clothing boutiques, a homeless shelter, and a retirement home for NFL players. The course had great success improving tech literacy, collaboration, hands-on problem solving, math comprehension, basic entrepreneurial skills, and self-confidence.

This presentation is tailored for designers interested in community outreach, educators, and social advocates. We'll overview how the course was structured, and offer techniques for have students participate in the teaching process, visual learning versus tactile learning, and creating a positive environment for critique and collaboration. Examples of student process work and final designs will be shown. In an atmosphere focused on standardized tests, offers an outlet for teens to be creative and address the problems important to them. The talk promises to be interactive, calling on the audience to explore the core of why they are passionate about design and what skills they might want to share with young people.

More about Larissa Itomlenskis

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[Working Lunch] Lean UX: Getting Out of the Deliverables Business

Traditionally, User Experience design has been firmly grounded in paper-based documents. Meticulous wireframes, heavyweight specs, granular flow diagrams, and branded presentations have been accepted as the de facto fruits of our labor. But do these deliverables solve business problems? In fact, they don't.

While each artifact provides documentation and a tangible work product to stakeholders, too much focus on their perfection has caused us to be measured and compensated by the quality of our documentation instead of by the success of the experiences we design.

Enter Lean UX. Inspired by Lean and Agile methodologies, Lean UX is the practice of bringing the true nature of our work to light, faster. In this talk, Jeff will explain the iterative strategy and team communication model that characterizes Lean UX, where documentation is not discounted but instead transformed into a practical and usable tool. Jeff will also explain how to introduce Lean UX to your team, whether you're in a large corporation or an interactive agency.

Through articulate visuals and humorous anecdotes the audience will be invited to participate in the discussion with their own questions and challenges. Interaction designers, IA's, UX Designers— anyone responsible for an experience of some kind— will benefit from learning how to get out of the deliverables business and back into the experience design business.

More about Jeff Gothelf

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Creativity Through Play

How can we engage more people in the user experience process? How can we get team members excited and engaged? How can we push the diversity of ideas created?

Using games, with a diverse group of individuals, will help to open people's minds, facilitate fun, and most importantly, encourage creativity. Agreements, discussions, and debates are encouraged and fostered in an open and inviting environment. This type of environment speeds up the idea generation and evaluation process. Focusing on great activities for the idea generation process, digs up opportunities and ideas that exist within the people you work with. This set-up allows for divergent thinking to occur, that eventually builds into convergent thinking which leads to rapid iterative prototyping and testing.

We will look at ways to plan, run, and execute brainstorming sessions in a manner that is set up for fun and function. We will review ways to use games to help cultivate an atmosphere that generates ideas and prototypes. Through images, samples, and stories, we will see how games can be put to use to produce tangible results. I have taken my experience in game design, teaching, and user experience, and applied it to the people, which is at the core of creating great ideas and products!

The purpose of this talk is to show how cultivating a highly diverse group of people, with fun and games, can create productive meetings and innovative brainstorming. Design, Development, and Management members will benefit from learning new opportunities to add to their creative process.

More about Kimberly Callery

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Taming the Nine-Headed Stakeholder Monster

As User Experience Designers, we carry a heavy burden. We know that ultimately, everything a user sees, interacts with, and experiences is our responsibility. But to get to the seamless, easy-to-use end result that we want, we have to navigate some tricky waters, including the Nine-Headed Stakeholder Monster. It *thinks* it knows just what the user wants. It can be hard to handle and sometimes just downright dangerous. The good news is that we can tame it using a few key techniques. In this talk, I'll share concepts and real-world examples that have helped me effectively collaborate with this unique monster, create better products and, yes, even enjoy the ride.

The origin and mythology of the Nine-Headed Stakeholder Monster

It's important to know not only who you're designing for but also who you're designing with. Each head represents an archetype you'll encounter during your design process— everyone from development to executives to all of those other people who share their opinions along the way.

How to speak monster

You'll find out how to ask questions and challenge ideas without getting bit. You'll see what to do when you make the wrong design decision (hey, it happens). And you'll even find out what to do when they say, "Make it pretty, mortal!"

Why monsters can't resist prototypes

You'll find out why prototypes are more effective at communicating your design than requirement documents and wireframes.

User Experience Design is hard but rewarding work. In the end, it's really about making someone's life easier so they can go home happy. If you do that right, chances are good you'll go home happy, too (and won't have to worry about that monster under your bed).

More about Geoff Alday

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MacGyver Prototyping

You have a new project with a client who is being difficult. You have a tight deadline, limited resources, materials, money and manpower. After your usual processes and methods, you're still not satisfied with the results.

Current concept generation practices are time consuming, resource hungry and costly for companies trying to run "lean" in today's economy. Ideas are tested using best case scenarios with predictable outcomes in hope of proving the concept's validity.

Innovation comes from fresh perspectives and generative methodologies and processes. MacGyver prototyping addresses these issues to help lay the groundwork towards innovation. Suited for practitioners of interaction and experience design, MacGyver prototyping is efficient, cost effective and allows for lightning fast testing, ideating and iteration.

Combining the best parts of brainstorming, group activities, quick-and-dirty prototyping and bodystorming, participants in this workshop will be lead through the methodology of MacGyver prototyping in small groups. Group discussion and Q & A will follow the activity facilitated by the session leaders.

What you'll learn:

  • Devise scenarios accounting for unpredictability
  • Utilize available resources to prototype artifacts and environments
  • Examine how assumptions effect outcomes
  • Judge plausibility of potential design solutions
  • Collaborate to create best-of-breed concept

* Methodology inspired by the resourcefulness of MacGyver in the 1985 TV series.

More about John Wayne Hill

More about Chris Basham

More about Wes Michaels

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MacGyver photo

Influencing Business Using a Wall of Knowledge

Large corporations today typically understand that a user experience practice is necessary to obtain insights about users needs, wants and desires. But what is the best way to communicate those insights in order to influence the project direction?

Learn how Nationwide uses their Wall of Knowledge to illustrate current design problems, the problem's impact to the user, and suggest possible solutions in a way that influences the way business teams think about the project.

The process of creating a Wall of Knowledge invites discussion, getting stakeholders to come together and move around a physical space. It organizes large amounts of data in an easily digestible way, and encourages business partners to approach the problem from a different perspective.

Creating a Wall of Knowledge invites collaboration and debate. The end result is a communally created story, agreed upon by all of the stakeholders, that clearly illustrates the project's next steps.

More about Heidi Munc

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Wall of Knowledge photo