20 Minute Talks

A lot can happen in 20 minutes.

We at Midwest UX are happy to showcase an amazing variety of 20 minute presentations, which also happened to be the core of our successful event in 2011. Impactful, insightful, unforgettable. We hope you find these talks as exciting as we do.

Resize Your UX

Marti Gukeisen

This project has a $50,000 budget. This project has a $350,000 budget. This project is for your Mom’s book club, to be paid in tea cakes and Sunday dinners. How do you resize your user experience research, efforts, and deliverables to match the scope of the project and the size of your (client’s) wallet? And how do you keep user experience top of mind when there isn’t room for it in the top of the budget? Hear our tips and tricks for loving your users at any price point.

How To Rapid Prototype Multi-touch Applications

Amelia Campbell

Prototyping is used to quickly and inexpensively simulate the design and functionality of user interfaces. UX designers accomplish this across a range of fidelities— from sketches and paper prototypes to a digital prototyping tools—to iteratively explore and evaluate different design possibilities.

Prototyping techniques for traditional GUI interfaces are widely used and well understood. But how effective are these techniques as we shift from desktop and laptops to touchscreen devices, which detect and resolve one or more touch events using styli or fingers? It is expected the more discrete touch points that can be processed simultaneously, the more prototyping for interfaces on these devices becomes complex and challenging.

This session will report on a series of interviews with working UX designers about how they prototype applications for multi-touch surfaces. Do prototyping methods as practiced for web sites and traditional applications work for multi-touch surfaces? What do designers know and how do they prototype multi-touch applications? What are best practices for prototyping emerging interactive technologies?

Evolving Mental Models

Daniel Eizans

We're all familiar with the concept of mental modeling, but why do we typically only use this practice in the design of a system? We obviously think about content when we’re starting to brainstorm a design and we think about content when we interview our users, but why don't we leverage the mental models we’ve created when we take on a new digital project when we plan the content and materials that eventually populate that system?  

I believe mental models can work harder and can be a key driver for creating a content strategy that can evolve with our users.

This talk will present an alternative (or extension) to the traditional mental model by focusing on the material that populates our digital experiences.  We’ll cover how to add content specific inquiries to the information gathering process used to inform traditional mental models; and how to modify them to inform everything from story mapping, content planning and long term governance of digital systems over time.

This type of mental modeling will be illustrated via case study.

Building a Responsive Design Process

Lydia Whitehead

You've heard the buzz about responsive design. You might even have read a few posts and had some discussions about it, but enough with the thinking — how can you actually implement a responsive design process that works for you and your team?

It might be easy for a designer/developer to hash out a responsive design, in, say, an afternoon, but what happens when you need to work with multiple stakeholders, designers, developers and the rest of your team? With insights from real life case studies (including the fine folks at Angie's List), this talk offers up a few ideas of how responsive design can fit within a typical website design and development process.

You'll learn:

  • when to go responsive (hint: not always)
  • what tools to use
  • where to start with content and design
  • ways to get the rest of the team involved
  • ways to set expectations with the client

A Lifetime of User Engagement: Evolutionary Conceptual Models

M Giles Phillips

It could be said that the foundation of an effective design is the creation of a conceptual model that maps flawlessly to a user’s mental model. However, this statement glosses over an important consideration: that your user’s understanding of your product - and more importantly, the problem that your product solves - will change over time, throughout their lifespan as a customer.  Some of this change is informed by things you can’t control, like technological trends and innovations, or your customer’s own independent education and experience.  But some of your user’s evolving mental model is actually informed by their usage of your product. The key to effectively growing and sustaining a customer base is in supporting users throughout the discrete phases of their lifespan as a return user: their goals, their knowledge gaps, and their workflows. In UX, we often think of this too simplistically - e.g. the first-time user versus the returning user. Categorically and across different touchpoints, these groups are not always descriptive enough.  And as design practitioners, we must constantly challenge ourselves to draw finer, more nuanced distinctions in our user’s evolving needs. So, how can we develop a conceptual model that is both granular and robust enough to describe each discrete phase in our user’s mental model?

The phases of a user’s mental model can be effectively represented in an evolutionary conceptual model.  In an evolutionary conceptual model, each phase of the mental model - novice, expert, and anything in between - is correlated with a discrete layer in your conceptual model.  Like rings on a tree, these layers describe the evolution of a user’s understanding of your product and the problems it solves, and help ensure that your product is positioned sufficiently for each phase.  Furthermore, heuristics can be applied at each layer, to help inform the specific design and prioritization of features and affordances in your UX.

In this presentation, I provide a brief overview of mental models and conceptual models in UX design, as well as tactics for creating a mapping between the two.  Building upon this framework, I will then introduce evolutionary conceptual models, and provide a discussion of their components, a review of examples, and will present some processes and tactics for creating them.  The final portion of the talk will be an interactive session where I’ll collaborate with the audience in developing the beginnings of an evolutionary conceptual model, in a domain that is of particular interest to the group.

What Natural User Interfaces Are and Why They Matter to UX Designers

David Brahler

As a professional community, we have rallied behind the "Design for Mobile First" mantra. We use gesture, or multi-touch, every day and is just 1 of  the 3 Natural User Interface (NUI) input modalities that we know how to design for. But, how would you design a calendaring system for the Kinect? Where would you begin and what would you need to consider? We still have another 66% to realize before we have fully maximize the NUI potential.

NUI products (such as the iPhone, iPad, Surface, and Kinect) do not confine interaction design to the screen but rather extend it to the surrounding environment through 3 distinct input modalities: voice, multi-touch, and in-air gesturing. As UX designers, we need to harness the potential of new technologies in order to better mirror human capabilities and shape the entire experience.

In this talk, I will explain what NUIs are and why they are important. Secondly, I will identify design scenarios for each of the 3 major NUI input modalities. Third, I will identify NUI applications that exemplify successful use NUI principles and patterns.

Digital Hoarding: How Information is Suffocating Your Audience

Matthew Grocki

We promote content in the interest of providing our audience information. But lately too much information is getting in the way of what our users need.  

Let’s explore how much information is too much, and when to spot the warning signs of digital hoarding. We’ll define what digital hoarding is, and how to minimize it. We will identify redundant content types within your designs and map the easiest ways to get users the information they need and on with their day.

This session explores how to balance the cavalcade of information your audience requires without turning your website into a dumping ground of PDF links, PowerPoint decks or pages of scrolling paragraphs.

We will navigate the politics behind content providers and how to prioritize whose information really is the most important. And finally, we will learn how to govern content and when to archive it (Spoiler: it’s not about masking your website as an online repository).

Negotiating Your UX Career

Jay Morgan

Based on the Principled Negotiation technique, as described by Thomson in "The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator" (2011), where they outline a technique for planning and executing negotiation.

I will introduce the Principled Negotiating technique; then, present how to negotiate a job, a contract, and project scope. I will be teaching how to prepare for, and knowing what questions to ask during negotiation.

You will understand and be able to visualize the Principled Negotiating technique. The goal is that you become comfortable and confident standing up for yourself in getting what you need to practice your Art.

Usable Security: It isn’t secure if people can’t use it

Darren Kall

The weakest link in online security is not technology but people. But it is not their fault. The developer, IT implementer, administrator, and end-user each create vulnerabilities if the system wasn’t designed to be usable for each of them. By taking a user-centric approach UX professionals are improving security products. But to improve the whole system security UX professionals need to go beyond the product and apply those same techniques to security processes, implementation policies, security management activities, metrics monitoring and visualization, etc. Security UX may not be glamorous but it really tests your UX research and design chops.

Your English Teacher was Wrong: Plain Language for Digital Environments

Lauren Colton

Learn linguistic tips and web copy tricks to get findable, stay optimized, and say what you mean. Plain language is the practice of replacing fancy words, seven commas deep, with the language of your audience. Straightforward words express ideas more clearly than verbose marketese or industry jargon: trousers might seem great to the marketing team, but the 2 AM shopper is browsing for pants. Study linguistic concepts and technical implementations for the keys to precise, usable, and elegant communication.

Bring the Future to Life

Colette Vardeman

Great design is not based on what you make but how you make people feel.

No matter where people are, or what people are doing, they are using technology to connect, to work, to live better, more satisfying lives. The sheer variety of these day-to-day experiences has raised the bar for consumer and business products alike. People have grown beyond ‘easy to use’ to demand experiences that anticipate their needs (compelling), support their workflow (natural), behave in an expected way (intuitive), and are delightful to use (emotionally engaging).
In the end - we need to make a product or service that delivers the functions people want in a form they love. Historically designers have used an understanding of intent, interaction, behavior, and expectation to deliver both function and form. While we use this type of information to design for function, we also translate people's emotions into the form to create experiences that delight them.

This presentation will focus on why function + emotion drives design of form to deliver experiences that are compelling, natural, intuitive, and emotionally engaging.

Bridging the Mobile Design Gap

Jen Matson

Small screens, varying contexts, varying form factors -- challenging, inspiring, or both? Our perspective on how we view these many aspects of designing for mobile can usually be traced back to how and when we came to be working on the web.

For those of us who have been pushing pixels since the medium's infancy, mobile is just the latest, though most profound shift.  Web standards and even, yes, the much maligned <table>, have served important roles in helping to push the web forward by highlighting its weaknesses, whether in the area of emotionally engaging design or findability of information.

In this session, we'll examine the history of design disruption on the web as a foreshadowing of the mobile web revolution.  And we'll discuss the effects of those disruptions on those of us trying to trying to craft great experiences when we often have such different ideas about what the web is, or should be.  Because it's only by understanding our shared history, and examining our assumptions and expectations dragged along from print, software or Flash-based design, that we can ultimately move the mobile web forward by simply creating a single, universally-accessible web.

Interaction Design Through Mixology

David Farkas

Most Interaction Designers like to drink. Let’s face it, it’s a part of our professional culture - the happy hours, the conferences, the karaoke. While cocktails come in a variety of forms, mixing drinks is actually an artform - a special classification of alcohol. Mixology is the process of combining flavors and layering alcohol for complex and often savory experiences.

Sound familiar?

Mixology and Interaction Design in many ways are one and the same. Over the last year, I have adopted mixology as a hobby and in doing so found more similarities to my professional work than I initially wanted to admit. As in Interaction Design, mixology is about iterations, trial and error. There is no such thing as a design that comes out perfect in the first pass, regardless of how much research is performed. Similarly: There is no perfect cocktail the first time around, whether you are dealing with something as complex as ginger and lemon infused vodka with iced tea or something as basic as cucumber gin and tonic. User testing is key--my tastes are not like everyone else’--and mixologists must elicit feedback from others in everything they do. As with designer’s process and methodology, no two mixologists are the same.

My talk is intended for practitioners of all levels. Young practitioners may see a new way to approach Interaction Design as the learning curve is reduced from an esoteric field to something we address every day. More seasoned veterans will enjoy an opportunity to connect their social hour to work in a manner providing both personal satisfaction and client understanding (they drink too, right?). Together we will address the shift around process, training and methodology as some bartenders are classically trained and others self taught; some use traditional methods and others use more modern technology. Attendees will leave with an appreciation for the complexity of Interaction Design in a more analog and tangible form and, timing permitting, with a homemade infusion in hand.

Building a Design Culture

Brad Colbow

Design is the flavor of the month. Startups see design as a key differentiating factor in their products and services. Large organizations look at the success of companies like Apple and try to emulate the look and feel of their products.  But is that all design is? How can design rise above being just a pretty coat of paint and become an integral part of an organization. What separates a design centered culture from the rest? And how can we incorporate the zest for user experience into ever decision that we make?

Upselling UX: Moving from pixels to strategy

Jim Laing

When it comes to user experience, organizations often begin with just a toe in the water: a designer is brought on board to cleanup a few features and answer developer questions, or a researcher is hired to run usability studies. However, in many organizations these well-meaning attempts to improve user experience end up being largely ineffective: band-aids on fundamentally flawed products. This is because unclear product strategy and a lack of user advocacy in early-stage planning often lead to unfocused solutions and unresolvable design issues later in product development. If such organizations are ever going to create great user experiences, it is necessary that the UX team begin to provide strategic leadership.

But how does a fledgling UX team transform its self from playing tactical support to helping define strategy? In this session, we'll look at just what is strategic UX and what skills are necessary to operate at the strategic level.  We will also discuss how you can explain the UX team’s role in strategy to your stakeholders, and how can you demonstrate the need for involving your team in product discovery.  By upselling UX, you can increase the contribution of your team and tackle user experience problems where they begin.

Educating Future Designers by Designing Mobile Interfaces: Case Studies with Actionable Lessons

Gretchen Caldwell Rinnert

As a design educator I am always looking for ways to motivate and inspire my students to innovate, push boundaries and develop ideas. When much of the interaction we see online is superficial and consists of light social exchange or less than meaningful gaming, its up to the next generation of UX designers to question the status quo and develop applications that help people live better, longer and healthier lives. Recently I worked with several design students to develop applications that change behavior, inspire healthy living and push learning outside of the classroom. We will present the following case studies, and the process used to develop and create interactive prototypes in a reflective and informed manner.

Case study #1: OhSnap!
More and more, children are spending time indoors in front of a television, computer or electronic gaming device and not going outside to play and interact with the world around them. This research offers a way to combine digital media and unstructured, outdoor play through a mobile application called OhSnap! It provides children with a way to meet up with their neighborhood friends and play games that combine the use of their iPods outdoors, as well as a tool for their parents to oversee their daily activities and participate in their child’s outdoor play adventures with their own mobile phone.  

Case study #2: Nutribots
There is an obesity epidemic among our nations children. This topic had been the focus and interest of many in the past few years, but most solutions include forcing kids to eat differently or making parents change behavior. This research and design explores how children can be encouraged to eat healthier as they grow robots through the food they eat. This innovative and fun twist on healthy eating  makes mealtime a playful competition.

Case study #3: LearnOut
LearnOut is an iPad application that responds to the need for students to learn outside of the classroom and to further their education in preparation for the real world. By using simple challenges where students can earn rewards and compete against classmates. This application integrates photography and game play into lecture based learning.

Establishing What "Good" Means with Performance Continuums

Dan Klyn

In our information architecture work at TUG we typically conclude the discovery phase of a project with an "alignment session."  The objective of this meeting is to develop understanding and consensus within the core client team on key matters of business and experience strategy.  Early in our formation we took on a client with profound alignment challenges, and as we scrambled to adapt our nascent process to the situation at hand, we borrowed the idea of "performance continuums" from RSW's work in the 1970s and ended up with a repeatable methodology that's now a formal part of TUG's discovery process.  In 20 minutes I'll share the case study from whence this tool emerged, the historical context Mr. Wurman birthed it in, and guidelines for using it in UX work.

Designing the Election Experience

Kaleem Khan

Designing the Election Experience

Holistic, cross-channel experience design is a dream role for any UX designer. We are moving beyond our traditional domain of electronic information into the physical world. We blend the physical, digital and ambient to design for a holistic experience and millions of people.

I will discuss the lessons learned from leading design strategy on a cross-channel election experience design that bridges the Web, mobile, physical and ambient elements. Considerations and requirements included design research and strategy, complex stakeholder interactions and communications, accessibility, information architecture, interaction design, a highly regulated and constrained legal environment, and immovable delivery dates — and that's before it became challenging.

The citizen experience across all channels is often confusing, inhumane and demoralizing. The good news is that our governments are beginning to understand the importance of a positive experience to a healthy, engaged citizenry. The cross-channel citizen experience is critical to any functioning democracy. Learn from a real-world case study in an election year.