UX & Digital Design Week 2019

We are so excited that FLA: UX & Digital Design Week 2019 is finally here. 27 delegates from 17 countries arrived in London to learn from and get inspired by the leading digital companies here.

The day started with a talk from Angie Yuanmalai and Hollie Lubbock from Huge about building and living a creative culture. They put a lot of effort to make sure people in the company feel like their best selves and stay inspired – from inviting exciting speakers like Camille Walala and Mr Bingo to give talks about their craft; to celebrating employees' side hustles in a special publication called Huge Ink. The bottom line is happy people means better work, so it only makes sense to invest in your team's happiness.

Next stop for the day was Barbican Centre's AI: More Than Human exhibition, where we had a chance to see various applications of new technologies and even get a poem written by AI from any word we choose. Here is the one we've got from the word "Future":

"Our future glory seems to see the heavenly,
Our Princess must have seen."

The last session of the day was from Julie Arrivé and Alex Hulme from Map Project Office, who talked about mixing physical and digital experiences. They explained that the better technology gets the less technological it looks. No one wants black plastic boxes in their homes anymore. 

You need to think about the experience and the "soft ware" – the use of materials that are not associated with technology like fabric, wood, etc. And with AI getting more and more advanced, soon we won't need any buttons or UI at all – objects will behave the way we want based on the context of the situation.

Day 2 of the FLA: UX & Digital Design Week started with a talk from Jonny Burch, founder of Progression who talked about designing your design career. So what's the secret of finding a job you love? Keep a weekly diary of types of tasks you enjoyed and the ones you didn't, think what skills these tasks required. This will show you what kind of requirements your dream job needs to have.

Next talk of the day was from Alice Cappo from Phantom who shared the possibilities and limitations of Voice UI and gave some tips around designing for a voice assistant:
🔊 Make messages as short as possible. People don't listen and then get confused.
🔊 Test on people with different accents, different age and gender. You will be surprised by how many unexpected insights you will get.

🔊 Leave some room for the "tail". People will always add some random information in their request and if your commands are not structured to have "tail", this information will confuse the system.

Side note: all voice assistants have a female voice and all warning announcements have a male voice. Something for all of us to think about.

The last talk of the day was from Société Générale team – Marine Aubert, Matthieu Harreau, Camille Le Gac and Morgane Peng who gave us some tips on working in multicultural teams and even gave us a chance to do some improve! Key takeaway: understand that each culture has nuances in the way people communicate and work, so you might have to switch how you give feedback or generate ideas when working in Japan vs in France.

It’s already day 3 of our FLA: UX & Digital Design Week and, as always, it was full of insights, inspiration and great talks.

In the morning we visited DeepMind (now part of Google) where we learnt from Dem Gerolemou about a holistic approach to problem-solving.

Dem shared a great quote from Eliel Saarinen that really well explained the concept.
“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context – a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan”
As designers, we are responsible for the consequences our products and services create, so we always need to think about the bigger picture.

Another great insight from Dem was about not being afraid of creating a temporary solution for a problem, as long as you are strategic about when it becomes obsolete. A great example of this approach is Tesla, where Elon Musk created each car as a means of getting to the next part of his big plan. He knows that personal cars won't be here for long, that's why he is building an energy company, not a car company.

In the afternoon we met with Lee Cooper and Jenna Smith from UserZoom who talked about the good, bad and ugly of research. They stressed the importance of not just doing testing for UX, but also testing the content. There is no point in making a website easy to navigate only to lead the user to useless or confusing content.

Day 4 of the FLA: UX & Digital Design Week started with a talk from Andy Thornton from Clearleft about levelling up DesignOps. 

He showed us how design in companies can be seen through 3 lenses: Efficiency (time, technology), Profitability (viability, business metrics) and Effectiveness (quality, desirability). By looking at it through these lenses it becomes clearer about the responsibility of each department/team member involved in the process (engineering, product, design).

After this, we visited Smart Design and learned from Nathaniel Giraitis, Ruby Steel и Omar Bakshi about their inclusive design process. The secret sauce of making better products for everyone is to get inspired by a user with a higher level of need. 

For example, they designed a playground to help a blind child play with his peers, but it turned into a more fun experience for everyone. Watch the full story here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/…/class-clips-vi…/big-life-fix/zmq9xyc

The last talk of the day was from Hem Patel and Christian Thümer from Signal Noise who talked about data design that turns information into insights to deliver value to the viewer. They also emphasised the importance of doing personal projects as the best way to have full creative freedom, collaborate with great partners as well as attract talent.

Our FLA: UX & Digital Design Week just finished with another day full of learning, discussions and debates.

We started with a talk from Jan Srutek from Trainline who shared their dual-track agile process that quickly validates opportunities from the backlog through research, prototyping and customer validation and sends it to the development team to be built for the next release.

He recommends picking opportunities from the backlog 2-4 weeks before sending them for delivery – this gives enough time to do discovery properly, but not too early so these stories don't become outdated.

The day continued with a fun workshop from Rob Penny and Nat Buckley from Bulb who showed us the flaws that could happen when creating a Design System.

And we wrapped up the week with a workshop from our curator Yury Vetrov, who shared his approach of setting OKRs to make sure new ideas get implemented.

And, of course, the day finished with a party that gave everyone another chance to reflect on the week and spend some time with the 27+ new friends.

Thanks everyone for making this week happen and hope to see you all again soon!

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