UX Brighton

Last week the design team attended UX Brighton, focusing on the craft of design and expanding the skills we need to build fluid and rewarding experiences.

There were a wide range of talks from some of the most influential UXers in the industry, covering the history of UX to designing for AI and voice.

Martyn Reding, Head of Digital Experience at Virgin Atlantic, mentioned that the terms UX, UI, IA, UXD (the list goes on) may seem like new ways of thinking, but have been an essential part of marketing and advertising since the original book designs in the 1800s.

Did you know that David Ogilvy was one of the early adopters of user experience? I quote "The most important word in the vocabulary of advertising is TEST. If you pretest your product with consumers and pretest your advertising, you will do well in the marketplace".

While some of these terms may seem daunting and a little unnecessary, Dr Nick Fine, UX Researcher, reminded us that the science behind UX is just about 'idea testing'. We were encouraged to question authority, test ideas, follow the evidence, and perhaps most importantly, challenge the myths and legends. We came away feeling like scientists!

Carmen Brion, Design Researcher, stated that we should not build until we have observed and defined three key user behaviours, if we do not do this, we are designing blind. A great example of this is wasp behaviour; those that swish it away, those that freeze, and those that panic. Once we have defined these, we can create a product that caters for all three individual behaviours.

My favourite subject was around the hot-topics - Designing for AI and a talkative future. Something we are passionate about as a digital experience agency.

Emily Sappington, Product Design Manager at Babylon Health, spoke very well about the comparison between human intelligence and technology. A great way to test the product is to question it like a human; are they awake / does it respond? Can it do something better than me? If yes, this is the wow moment. A great example of this is Google Mail type assistant.

Good AI design should allow you to complete basic tasks well, after all, as humans are continually testing. Ben Sauer, Director of Product at Babylon Health, told us to "Ensure things fail gracefully." An eye-opening statement that reminded us to spend more time focusing on errors that a user may make than the 'happy path'. He stated the need to create a future that is 'voice-first' and can be scaled; a fascinating insight into how AI may influence our design thinking in the future.

Many of the speakers also mentioned the importance of a strong team culture throughout the design process. A subject that is very important to us here at Soak. Nat Buckley, the Lead Designer at Bulb, highlighted the need for informal situations where we can show work, sketch, give feedback and share ideas within a psychological safety net. A safe environment where you can say you disagree or don't know. How does this affect UX? Well, "Helping your team do well is part of your job."

One quote that stuck with me was "How do we turn someone into a hero of their own journey?" Something that I will continue to ask myself during future projects. All in all, a great event which left us feeling inspired, positive and ready for our next UX challenge!