September 1, 2016 The 4 best things I learnt from UX Australia 2016

By Alexandra Hallam

UX Australia 2016

Recently I spent a couple of days at the UX Australia conference in Melbourne – the annual event devoted to thinking about how to make the internet (and the world) a better-designed place for users.

Below are some of the best takeaways I learnt (in the order I learnt them):

1. Your customers want to celebrate a birthday – not buy a cake

Steve Baty’s workshop on creating customer journey mapping was a great reminder to put your customers’ needs first when creating your website. As a bakery, you want to sell cakes. But your customers’ goal isn’t to “buy cakes” – they want to celebrate birthdays and spend time with friends.

If your website engages with these desires, your customers will feel more like you understand them, and that you’re engaging with them personally – and not like you’re just putting the hard sell on them.

2. The two most important questions are “what if…?” and “why not?”

I went to Pattie Moore’s workshop on designing for an aging population, and I came away from it with a plethora of insights. For instance, did you know that the median age of Australians is 37? Or that many people struggle with touch screens because of the decreasing fingertip sensitivity we experience as we age?

Pattie is determined to make accessibility a first consideration in design – not an optional add-on. She says the key to this is asking questions like: “What if we designed this for people with a vision impairment?” or “Why don’t we figure out how we can make this easier to use for someone with arthritis?”

And when it comes to technology, it’s essential to make sure our creations engage with the technology people use to support their technology use, like screen readers.

3. “Consulting” can be a dirty word

Ruth Mirams’ presentation highlighted the importance of co-designing with the community that will ultimately use the end website, product or service you’re aiming to create.

She works on projects that are co-designed with and for Indigenous communities, and she acknowledged that “consulting” often isn’t enough. Especially in Indigenous communities that have experienced a history of disempowerment and inaction during previous “consultations” and projects, community co-design will result in a better product or service with more community buy-in.

The same is true for any community. Ask people what matters to them – and act on that.

4. It took 30+ people 18 months to design the Facebook reaction logos

Facebook’s recent ‘reaction’ logos look fairly simple – which is part of their appeal. However, the design and reiteration process was anything but. Ollie Campbell explained that it took the reactions design team – a group of more than 30 people – 18 months to create, refine and finalise the designs before they were rolled out.

The lessons?

  • Don’t take it for granted that your first version is your best.
  • Get feedback, and make the relevant changes.
  • Continue to make iterations as necessary, even once you’ve gone live.

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