The second day – A nice trinity

Sara Doltz

The theme of the second day at UX London was People. We choose three of our favourite speakers and summarized their talks. Hope you like it!

The task of balancing the needs of the business and the needs of the customers is not always easy, which Stephen A Anderson, CXO at BloomBoard, explored in his talk. Almost everybody with a digital product or service wants to be a company that foucuses on design, and reap the benefits of it. But not many have a holistic approach to design, where design is in the driver seat.

Most businesses desire to create exceptional experiences, but this is often what gets in the way: Individual beliefs, Processes and Cultural values. All three have to be aligned for you company to truly become a design-led company.

But what does it mean to be a design driven company?

– It's not pixel perfection or perfect aesthetics and it’s not the design team calling the shots. It’s a design mind-set. Design-led companies are aligning the entire organization.

To round off, he gave a good fill-in-the-blanks example to try out where your company is on this journey:

“At the core we are a company that value ______, though we make exceptions for ______ when it seems right.”

You only have two words to fill the blanks: Experience and Delivery. This will give you an idea of where you are right now, and your organization's main focus.

Adam Connor, Experience Design Director at Mad*Pow, gave a very good talk titled: Stop it – Taking on the bad habits that hurt design discussions. He went through a list of don'ts to help us refine our skills in the fine art of delivering and receiving critique. Because if the team can't have good conversations with feedback you will not improve your product and your team will not be any happier at the end of the day.

Before reading the list here is a question for you to keep in the back of your head while going through the list:

– Will the work/design achieve the objective we want to accomplish? This is the single most important question to keep in mind. 

Here is the bad habits worst-of-the-worst list:

  • First reaction. You can not change how your face looks at the first glance – it’s where personal taste comes in – but you have to be able to control it.
  • Selfishness – We want everyone else to know how smart we are and it becomes more about us than the objectives when we give feedback.
  • You don’t start from a common ground; the group needs to agree that they have the same goals and same principles to engage in critiquing.
  • We don’t discuss. You should NEVER send an email and ask for feedback or give feedback through mail; dialogue and discussion are critical elements here.
  • We don’t talk about strengths – you start talking about what has to be changed when the very first thing you should do is to discuss the strengths. A to-do-list of changes is totally forbidden.
  • We don’t focus. Nobody in the group should be disengaged or just give general feedback. This requires 100 percent focus and is part of a mutual respect for one another. Also everybody should participate – nobody is allowed to just sit quiet.
  • You get defensive; to get better you have to be able to take critique without getting defensive.
  • We start problem solving directly – slow down.

And at last – the worst don’t in the book according to Adam Connor:

  • We confuse critique with review – it is not the same thing. To just comment and not have anything to support your statement is not allowed. This is about iteration with focus on the user – not a review with your personal reflections. And when you receive feedback you have to keep this in mind as well, it’s not a list of changes, it’s only critique.

Cecilia Weckström, Global Head of Lego.com, also gave an interesting talk about how Lego is working with their website. Lego.com is used by adults, but also by small children. Working out a way to design for children has been a big challenge for the UX team and the word Intuitive has been one of the most important on that journey.

– Children are, just as adults, squeezed for time. If they don’t find anything interesting on your site they will move on – fast, says Cecilia.

Since a lot of the children on the site can’t read the team had to work a lot with symbols and imagery to convey meaning. They also combined semantics and semiotics to create snippets. By understanding what children call things on the website and making the visual cues familiar they built up small snippets of information that people will recognize. Then they repeated that use of snippets to create patterns, which kids are extremely good at catching on to. You might say it was almost like lego blocks pieced together...

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