My notes from UX London 2018

I had the pleasure to attend UX London for the second time last week, and, as with any other Clearleft event, it didn’t disappoint. The speakers, the workshops, the food, and the coffee: ????????

My notes are a bit scattered, as I tried to pay attention to what was being said, and sometimes I forgot to write things down for the whole talk (I’m sorry, speakers). They are imperfect, made mainly for me, but here they are.

Aarron Walter (@aarron), “Story First”

  • Data stays in our head, but not as long as a story does
  • When you have clarity about the broad vision you can be more agile
  • Shared mythology is important in a company
  • A roadmap tells us what and when, but not why
  • Collective understanding is hard to come by

Kate Rutter (@katerutter), “Finding the Narrative in Numbers: Making the Most of Metrics”

  • How do we know that our work is working?
  • None of the numbers tells us if the product is working for customers (downloads, sign ups, time on site)
  • Book: Lean analytics – user centred approach
  • Metrics should be unique to your business
  • What can a customer do with our product that they can’t do without it?
  • The holy grail is to intentionally move a metric
  • Use metrics as design material, before we start designing
  • Book: UX for lean start ups

Krystal Higgins (@kryshiggins), “Onboarding for the long run”

  • Onboarding should be: multiple events; diverse methods; long term guidance
  • Familiarise, learn, convert, guide
  • Spaced repetition:
    • Reinforce core concepts over time to maximise retention (of information)
  • Reference: “Minimising change aversion for the Google Drive launch”
  • Diverse onboarding toolkit: good defaults; inline onboarding; reactive guidance; proactive guidance; on-demand guidance
  • Where does onboarding end? Don’t design onboarding for the first run only

Navin Iyengar (@navin_), “Design like a Scientist: A/B Testing UX at Netflix”

  • Observe real world data and draw your own conclusions
  • Work is a series of experiments instead of projects
  • Learn reliable information about how to read the world that allows to predict future behaviour
  • Scientific method: hypothesis, experiment, result
  • In product design world, both proving true or false hypothesis is good
  • Asking someone’s opinion has biases (user interviews), what they say doesn’t mean what they’ll do
  • Develop a hypothesis: surveys, trends in data, interviews, ethnography
  • Test a hypothesis: a/b testing

Paul Adams (@padday), “The End of Navel Gazing”

  • We need to stop having an existential crisis
  • UX is not in the middle, unlike what Venn diagrams say
  • Leadership is in the middle
  • Sales team know our product better than our product team
  • Same for support team
  • UX is just one voice of the user
  • Make multidisciplinary decisions

Ame Elliott (@ameellio), “Trust Me: Building Trust with UX Design + Security”

  • When receiving a email from Google, don’t know what a message from Google is supposed to sound like
  • Maybe this was done this way so different teams have autonomy, but doesn’t build consistency and trust
  • Understand risks to users
  • Lead through design

Amber Case (@caseorganic), “Designing Calm Technology”

  • Technology should use only the least amount of our attention
  • Notifications that intrude on other people’s attention not just your own
  • Machines shouldn’t act like humans
  • Humans shouldn’t act like machines
  • Technologies shouldn’t be making our decisions for us
  • Technology can communicate but doesn’t need to speak
  • The right amount of tech is the least amount to get the job done
  • Technology should work even when it fails, not just in perfect situations

Josh Clark (@bigmediumjosh), “Design in the Era of the Algorithm”

  • Correcting bias is in itself a form of bias
  • Bias and codifying the past – eg racist tap
  • How to address our blind spots, not just gender, ethnicity but also cultural
  • Make it easy to contribute accurate data

Cheryl Platz (@muppetaphrodite), “The Future of Voice”

  • Voice interfaces are mainstream but not mature yet

Pamela Pavliscak (@paminthelab), “Creating a Future with Feelings”

  • Designing for emotion
  • Feel/understand the layers of emotion
  • Design a future full of feelings!


UX London ran over 3 days, with the talks in the mornings, and workshops in the afternoon. Sadly I had to miss them on day 1 because of Sick Child At Home™.

On day 2, I attended Jason Mesut’s (@jasonmesut) “Shaping you: now and next”, which was wonderful for an introvert, and it addressed concerns I have at work right now:

  • “How do you best represent yourself to others so that you are applied to the right challenges for your skillset?”
  • “How do you recruit people in your team to fit the needs of your projects?”
  • “How do you help define how you and others can develop their skills?”

I won’t reveal Jason’s secrets here, but really loved the exercises and pace of the workshop.

On day 3, I attended Liza Kindred’s (@LizaK) “Mindful Technology” (with a cameo from Josh Clark), as I had pledged that this year I would be trying to bring this kind of thinking into my work as much as possible: “Instead of designing for page views, it’s time to design for purpose, for calm, and for compassion.” Yes!

Liza made us put our devices away in a box for the duration, which made me upset at first, but a bit calmer as time passed. Thank you, Liza.

What’s next

These days it’s hard to find time to travel and attend conferences, so I don’t go to as many as I once did. I knew UX London was going to be great and time well spent, and it didn’t disappoint. I already have my ticket for Leading Design in October, also put on by Clearleft, and the expectations are high!