40 Minute Talks

The best sort of lectures are the ones you get lost in, never realizing the time passing. We at Midwest UX feel that each one of the following talks embodies that exact quality. Immersive, reflective, and innovative: each presentation brimming with fresh ideas and concepts designed to inspire.

Mapping the Experience

Chris Risdon

As services become more interconnected across channels and devices—and more importantly across time and space—it’s becoming increasingly important to find ways to gain insight about customers’ interactions with your service.

Experience maps offer a framework for mapping human experiences across multiple situations and interactions, helping to ensure that every occasion where your organization touches or connects with a person’s life is appropriate, relevant, meaningful, and endearing.

In this presentation I’ll talk about orchestrating touchpoints and their channels through experience maps. I’ll review an experience mapping framework that includes key dimensions and how they’re used for designing for a multi-touchpoint experience. The presentation will discuss the activities that feed the map so that it tells a tangible story, the key elements make up a useful and actionable map, and how to then define the characteristics of your mapped touchpoints. Experience maps are intended to be catalysts, not conclusions.

(this will include a detailed case study with actionable lessons, and also discussions touches on 'design beyond the screen')

Building Bendable Content: Why the future web needs content-focused IA

Sara Wachter-Boettcher

Responsive. Adaptive. Mobile first. Cross-channel. We all want a future that’s flexible, fluid, and unfixed from the desktop, right?

Great. Then it’s time to get to the core of the matter: the content. 

Fixed firmly to inflexible pages, today’s content is too often stuck in meaningless blobs—blobs that break under the weight of responsive designs, mobile sites, and cross-channel distribution. 

Which elements are most important? What’s primary and what’s corollary? What’s related or interdependent? What stays, what goes, and what gets truncated on small screens? 

When we can answer these questions—and structure our content accordingly—we’ll replace those messy blobs with content that bends, shifting and reshaping to fit varied displays and devices.

To accomplish this, we need to bring our skills in organizing and architecting information to a micro level, breaking content down and lending it the structure it needs to maintain its meaning in an increasingly unfixed web. 

After all, we can't keep creating more content for every new device and channel—our writers and content wranglers will never keep up. But with IA skills applied to this new challenge, we can stop asking for more content and start asking our content to do more. 

This session will help UXers advocate for and architect content that goes further by discussing:

  • Why adding structure actually makes content more flexible
  • What we can learn about structure from technical and CMS folks
  • How to analyze content and understand its meaningful elements
  • How IA skills apply to this new challenge—and also how they’ll need to change

Working with Developers for Fun and Profit

Jack Moffett

There has been a lot of discussion recently within the UX community about what is required to be an Interaction Designer. Do you have to be good at visual design? Do you have to know how to code? These are the wrong questions. The question we need to ask is, “What skills and methods will make us better Interaction Designers?” The answers will vary greatly depending on the context of your work: the type of company you work for, the makeup of your team, the types of projects you work on, and so forth.

I strongly believe that a closer working relationship with developers and participation in more of the development process will improve your ability to deliver outstanding products and will increase your job satisfaction as a designer. I will outline a collaboration lifecycle in relation to project schedules and the design process and show designers how they can extend their influence, insuring design integrity and improving the quality of the final product, through greater participation in the entire development process. The presentation will address use of developer tools, documentation, the designer's ability to code, and designer–developer relationships.

Information Overload is an Opportunity

Karl Fast

Everyone experiences information overload. This is the reality of the digital now. How can we transform this reality from a negative to a positive—from information overload to information opportunity? The standard approaches are to use massive computation (think Google) or coordinated group action (think Wikipedia and Facebook). There is another and less-appreciated approach: meaningful interaction.

This talk explores three themes for designing a deeply interactive world in which information is an opportunity, not a burden. The first theme is filtering and how people winnow and sift through information. The second theme is the human body and how people use micro-level interactions to construct meaning from the information they encounter. The third theme is touch and how large multi-touch surfaces can support messy information problems and spaces. By incorporating these themes into current design practice, information can be an eternal opportunity instead of a pervasive threat.

Customer Journeys: Designing for Disagreement

Boon Sheridan

Sometimes there’s nothing better than being wrong. 

Customer Journeys, maps, stories, flows. Whatever you want to call them they’re a powerful tool for understanding touchpoints, interactions and moments of engagement between a company and an individual. Given the level of detail they contain they often require long cycles, multiple lanes of research and many rounds of review to complete. What if you took a different approach and created a set “on the fly” with a little information, some inspiration and a few hunches? 

I’ll take you through the idea of Designing for Disagreement - deliberate and willful acts of creativity with the goal of sparking discussion, identifying unspoken biases and uncovering insights and feedback. Then we’ll walk through a project and show how going into a rapid-fire design exercise of customer journeys yielded some surprising results. We’ll take apart the challenge put down by the client and project teams, the framework used to build the experiments and take a look at the final product and the workshop it created.

You’ll walk away armed with a set of reasons why you should try it on your next project, a framework to build your own and a few tricks and tips on how to present them for maximum effect.

Extreme Design — The Secrets to Successful Design Pairing

Samuel Bowles

Become a better designer, see the designers and developers you work with improve, and make working together more enjoyable. A set of simple practices stolen from some of our favorite programmers can help you get to better ideas faster and instill greater empathy for design throughout your company.

Samuel Bowles will explore how he has adopted the principles of design pairing in a number of contexts and teams. His observations are based on the contrast between his work in traditional design firms and more recently as a member of various Agile development teams.

The Craft of UX: What we can learn from bakers' guilds

Leanna Gingras

What do bakers, metalsmiths and user experience professionals have in common? They’re all crafts, but unlike other crafts, UX doesn't have a mentality of apprenticeship and practice. I argue that because UX requires broad knowledge across a number of disciplines, we need to better train incoming UX professionals. We should look to other fields for inspiration, especially craft guilds. 

Designing Better: Thinking Beyond the Device

Derek Featherstone

Responsive Web Design is just one of the tools we use to create better designs. In this session, we'll explore what "better" design is, and apply that in new ways as we craft interactions between people and web sites and applications.

In this talk, Derek looks at content, context and design, bringing them together in ways that show us what we can do to create truly responsive sites that meet the needs of the people using them, when they're using them, and how they're using them. When we're thinking beyond the device, we need to start with the device, of course, but then refine our designs to take into account the device's form factor, capabilities and features.

After this session, you'll see why these examples and concepts had one of the world's leading design teams nodding their heads frantically as they looked to apply these principles to their own work. Salivating. They were practically salivating.

People, not Process

Ian Fenn

Another day, another UX conference, and yet another designer telling you that you're doing things wrong and how you should adopt their methodology and nothing else.

Ian Fenn has had enough.

In this forthright but entertaining talk, he reveals the real truth about UX design - what works for you may not work for somebody else. It may not even work for you if you subsequently change employer or even project.

Ian will argue that the secret of successful UX design can be encompassed in a few simple rules - the foremost being that people, not process, are paramount.

A Brief History of New Media Art

Matt Nish-Lapidus

In many media, techniques in design are foreshadowed in the art world. Graphic design has roots in early 20th century print making and poster art, big budget movies repurpose many techniques from art films, and now interactive products are starting to borrow techniques and styles from new media art. Historically there have been direct ties between the art and design worlds in specific fields, however the interaction design community has been very disconnected from our new media art counterparts. 

In this presentation you will learn about the history of new media and interactive art highlighting seminal works and important artists and innovators including David Rokeby, Stelarc, and Steve Mann. We will also discuss new media art criticism and education as inspiration for growing interaction design in those areas. 

Learn some practical ideas for interactive environments, physical computing, gestural interfaces, and ambient interactions which have been part of new media art for the last 20 years.

On "Shrink It and Pink It": Designing Experiences for Women

Jessica Ivins

Women have become the digital mainstream. In the US market, women make up just under half of the online population, but they spend almost 60 percent of e-commerce dollars. Women are online gamers, shoppers, bloggers, and social media consumers. They share content, influence purchasing, and engage in more social interactions online than their male counterparts. And yet, we still don’t know how to design for them. The immediate impulse when designing for women is to “shrink it and pink it,” meaning products are splashed with the color pink, and content and messaging are dumbed down. But women want what’s relevant to them. They want products and online experiences that are intuitive, not insulting to their intelligence. They want function, not frills. 

This session reviews the historical and contemporary landscape of designing for women. We’ll review misguided, yet well-intentioned designs based on assumptions and stereotypes that have flopped. Likewise, we’ll review success stories of well-designed products and experiences that truly meet women’s needs. We’ll also look at when gender should factor into your design and when it shouldn’t. By understanding how user behavior varies among the genders, we can understand how to design for a gendered audience. Ultimately, when designing for women (or men, or both), you’ll want to get it right. 

The Digital Place You Love Is Gone: Mitigating Loss in the Ethersphere

Joe Sokohl

So many times we design for new users, with only a passing nod at existing ones. But what happens when we redesign a familiar experience, especially one that people have "grown up with"? What happens when digital destinations disappear? A strong dissonance affects people who become used to a certain digital place, a certain set of patterns, images, and interactions. When this place changes, especially dramatically, people experience loss, frustration, anger, blame, and confusion. 

They don't have to. That's where UX comes in.

We'll use Melissa Holbrook Pierson's "The Place You Love Is Gone: Progress Hits Home" as a starting point, with strong nods to work by Andrea Resmini and Luca Rosati, Jim Kalbach, Peter Morville, and other experts in placemaking, wayfinding, and other digital geographies. We'll look at physical analogies as well as digital examples such as Facebook's Timeline and AOL's transformation. Ultimately, we'll ponder key approaches to easing the sense of loss people might experience when progress destroys their digital homes.