Three Favourite Quotes From My First UX Conference- UX+ 2020
UX+ 2020 is the first UX conference I’ve attended, and funnily enough, the first online conference I’ve ever attended as well. No amount of Zoom meetings, e-numans, online classes, and live stream concerts has prepared me for experiencing a conference online, but hey, it’s the new normal, and the UX+ team did a great job in turning a traditional offline experience into a successful online one.
From the excellent hosting of Christian San Jose, and Alexis Collado, the speakers, and the dancing blob convos in the Slack channel- UX+ 2020 shows us that an online conference can be just as, or dare I say even more engaging than an offline one.
With all that being said, here are three quotes that really stood out for me in my UX+ 2020 experience:
1. We study behaviours, not features- Rannie Teodoro
Letters to UX by Rannie Teodoro was one of the most resonating talks in the UX+ 2020 event. I honestly had a difficult time picking my favourite quote from Rannie. In her talk, she shared her journey from academia, to researcher, then to product design at Facebook, and now Head of Design at Thumbtack.
Rannie’s career path is a unique one, since you rarely hear about someone switching from academia and research to the corporate world. We tend to have this view that if you’re in academia, you’re stuck in academia, unless you’re only a part-time instructor. But Rannie’s experience shows us that part of building a great product or service that people will use, is by knowing what they need, and what better way to learn the art of studying people than by doing your research (which she picked up in her academia experience).
Often, as designers and technologists, we tend to want the coolest features and the implement the most in-trend designs, but if people don’t want or need your product, then no amount of feature-jacking or cool designs will make them want it more. You have to know how people behave, so you will know what problem to solve and how to position your product.
2. There’s no such thing as a neutral platform- Sheryl Cababa
The reputation of Big Tech has been under question ever since the days of Cambridge Analytica. The latest documentary by Rappler sheds light on the negative impact that social media has had in radicalising right-wing populism.
Sheryl Cababa tackles ethics in design, and stresses the importance of adding a layer of societal foresight when we design products.
I love that Sheryl tackles this topic, because sometimes I feel like businesses are afraid to take accountability for the societal effects of the products that they create. Sheryl tells us that there is no such thing as a neutral platform- what this means is that every platform has the potential to be abused, and we need to make ethical choices when push comes to shove.
Facebook has been coming under fire for refusing to remove fake news and extremist groups from their platform, Youtube is slow to remove racially-inciting content, and this is because social media platform are scared that if they shutdown this kind of content or curate it, then it will significantly affect their bottomline.
Sheryl makes us think- what do we do as designers if our creations are being used in this manner? What if our creations are being used to tear apart the fabric of society versus making a better world?
At the end of the day, designers have a responsibility to make sure that their creations are contributing to the advancement of society, and that means we need to take a look into the societal impact of our designs. We have to zoom out from purely the users point of view, realign our metics, and assess the impact our designs have on the world.
3. Be Considerate- Niaw de Leon
When the UX+ 2020 lineup came out, I’ll admit I was probably most excited for Niaw de Leon. Rarely do people cover UX copywriting, even though words play a significant part in our experience. And also, as a frustrated copywriter, I always wanted to see someone cover copy.
Niaw’s talk covered how words affect our user experience, the importance of localising language, understanding context, and the fluidity of language with the controversial example of the word- irregardless.
Be Considerate- means that we consider the language our users/audience speak in. One of Niaw’s examples is how we order dine out food in different countries, there’s “Take Out”, “To Go”, and “Take Away”, and if you’re designing a product, you have to make sure that the terms used are intuitive for the people you’re building it for.
If you want to understand how your users speak, the best way is to immerse yourself in their world. Start watching content that your users watch, and start reading what your users read. If you can put yourself in their shoes, and understand their lingo, then you can turn a good experience into a great one.
*Bonus- Imposter syndrome never leaves you, you just get better at handling it- CSJ
Imposter syndrome is something every creative goes through on their journey. To some extent, it’s almost inevitable. You will always feel like you just started, not good enough, or even lost. I had doubts if I should even write and post about my UX+ experience, since I’m not a design leader. But the feeling of imposter syndrome shouldn’t stop you from getting started.
UX+2020 has given us a lineup of speakers from different backgrounds. Some people started their journey late, and some are design prodigies, but nevertheless, each of them probably has had an encounter with imposter syndrome. It’s part of life, and going through it is a fulfilling part of your journey as a creative. The best trick to beat it is to take a deep breath, sip your glass of water (or coffee), and get started on your latest UX project.