UX Cape Town 2015 – a good user experience

The conference organisers did a very good job of selecting speakers, both local and international, who covered not only UX practice but also the business benefits of good UX, current trends and future challenges/opportunities. The fact that the conference continues to sell out is a very positive sign for the UX community in South Africa.

Power to influence

Day One started with an inspiring Keynote by Alberta Soranzo, Head of Experience Design and Innovation at Tobias & Tobias, London.

Alberta spoke on how, we, as designers/UX practitioners and business people, have not only the power and opportunity to influence user behavior, but we also have the responsibility to use our skills and experience for the good of the world around us. This belief and view of the UX practitioner’s role in society, was a common thread shared by various speakers over the 2 days.

Cape Town

Landscape

After a quick coffee break, Dr Marco Pretorius and Jason Hobbs, shared the very interesting results of their survey on the state of UX in South Africa. The aim of the survey was to gain insights into the various demographics, education/experience, challenges, job titles and salaries of those in the SA UX field and in turn use the information to help move the field forward in a constructive manner.

Some interesting survey findings:

Demographics

  • 45% of respondents work in Johannesburg and 36% in Cape Town
  • 39% are aged between 27 and 34 years of age
  • with 43% female practitioners and 57% male

A big positive was that, of those surveyed, 92% were employed.

Challenges

  • Lack of, or no budget
  • Process challenges
  • UX buy in
  • Lack of skilled UX staff
  • Time constraints (e.g. no usability testing)

Way forward

  • Increase awareness of and advocacy for the field of UX in South Africa
  • Develop Educational Support
  • Professionalise the Field

For a detailed view of the results, visit uxlandscape.com.

Knowledge shared, knowledge gained

The rest of the conference was filled with valuable learning, insights and inspiration shared by a number of experienced speakers. My highlights for the remainder of day one were talks by Jennifer Poole, a UX practitioner at Deloitte Digital, with her talk entitled - Bursting my bubble: on being more than "the UX person" and Nicola du Toit’s presentation - UX in the real world (or how an electric can opener changed my life).

Jennifer spoke on how we should demonstrate value in UX. As she put it, we need to make it, “desirable, viable and feasible” to clients/users. This will help to educate clients and see that their projects will benefit greatly from good UX and best practice. She went on to say that we must do our best to understand the user, which will help us to envision the “journeys” we take them on. To end, she reminded us that UX is a team effort and should be considered by all involved in the project.

Jennifer Poole

Nicola touched on how we need to move beyond designing digital products purely for a digital world and should look at how we can create rewarding experiences in the real world too.

Nic Evans’ talk, “Spotting a wolf in sheep's clothing” and Farai Madzima’s “Motion and Meaning in UI Design” were my stand out talks on day 2.

Nic, Lead User Experience Consultant at EOH, gave a serious and engaging talk on the dangers of “faux UX” and the need for standardisation in the UX industry. With the continuing need for customer/user experience, clients need to understand their UX requirements and be careful when selecting an appropriate agency, so that they derive value from the process and don’t fall victim to faux UX.

He went onto say that we must consider the following as part of the UX process:

  • Research
  • Prototype digitally
  • Avoid design by committee
  • Don’t design in isolation
  • Do usability testing to confirm your assumptions

Tips for auditing UX:

  • Planning
  • Research
  • Analytical design
  • Prototyping
  • Validation

As Nic says “UX is not common sense or easy”. Industry professionals need to keep giving back to the community in the form of knowledge sharing, so that we can move ever closer to standardising and best practice in UXD and in turn show clients the true value of good UX.

Farai Madzima

Digital Product Designer at Standard Bank, Farai Madzima, delivered a fun and inspiring session on the importance and benefits of transitions, animation and movements in UI design.

He went on to show us some great examples of great motion design and encouraged us to all “have the mindset of a learner”.

Carefully considered motion design plays a vitally important role in focusing information as it’s layout adjusts and as he puts it, adds a level of “slickness” to a design that is often not considered while designing or building digital interactions. The subtle details can often be the make or break between a good and a great design. “Motion has meaning”, says Farai and how that affects UX is very important.

Looking forward

Overall, it was a very inspiring and thought provoking 2 days and reinforced how vitally important good UX is to the success of a project and to good design. I'm looking forward to UX Cape Town 2016.