UXPA Boston 2016

Today, I attended my first UXPA Boston conference.   While it was exciting to have the chance to attend such an iconic conference in the field, I found the presentations to be too general, unfortunately.  Chauncey Wilson's humorous wrap-up, with insights generated from his 40 years of experience in the field, was easily the most enjoyable part of the conference, and an uplifting ending to the event. 


I did have the following takeaways (many of which I had already known), but ones I would like to reiterate:

  • In Your Organization: 

    • Product stakeholders need to have a unified vision on the definition of "great" for your product, otherwise you will be pulling in different directions all through the development cycle.  

    • In the supermarket, the milk is located in the back - why is this so, when so many of us want to just buy milk and leave?  The answer is the supermarket's business interests - they are obligated to display the highly branded luxury items first in the store, so that buyers are sure to pass by them on their way to purchase milk.  Design for what your users want, not for what your organization wants.  

    • There is no "truth" in product development - "truth lies in the finished product - be at the finish line together."

  • In Product Design:

    • "Fail fast, fail often."

    • Think about the user's mental state before, during, and after their interaction with your product.  

    • Avoid over-personalization - give the user ultimate control.  

    • "Features without comprehension are like extra pages in a foreign book."

  • In Research: 

    • Sit next to participants, not across from them.  

    • Reiterate the purpose of your session, how you will use the x amount of time you have with them, and that you appreciate that they have taken the time to speak with you. 

    • Be careful to construct your questions in ways that do not bias the participant's response.

    • Come prepared with the questions you want to ask in the session, but don't read from the script like a robot - some of the most interesting insights come from following the rabbit hole of a participants' tangent.  Use your judgment for when to stay on track and when to go off-road.  

    • Don't take the participants' answers personally.

    • You are in the business of gathering data, not proving a hypothesis. 

    • Always probe more, with something as simple as "Tell me more about that."  Ask "stupid questions."  We can't ever fully understand another human being - don't assume that you can.

    • Participants take time to warm-up - it's possible that you may get into your juiciest insights towards the end of the session - therefore, always leave time at the end to ask whether there was something that you should have covered.  

    • Be sure to have a dedicated note-taker and/or recordings from the session.  Verbatims are gold for when you communicate findings to the wider team.  

    • Always debrief immediately following a session, when things are fresh in your mind.  

    • Having all design stakeholders be able to see the research for themselves helps to get buy-in for making necessary changes - designers may be attached to their work and therefore need definitive reasons to alter their original vision.

    • Quantitative results can be inconclusive, especially at getting at the "why" behind user behaviors. 

    • When card-sorting, physical cards are intuitive because they are familiar, and offer additional benefits.  They allow you to: 1) understand the participant's thought process; 2) observe nonverbal responses; and 3) provide motivation to the participant.