Takeaways from Amuse UX 2016 Conference – uxdesign.cc

“Amuse is an international conference for anyone interested in how to design and develop successful products that users love.”

I was lucky enough to attend the Amuse UX Conference this year (this was the second Amuse conference, you can watch back the talks from last year here). The conference was an amazing experience, it was well-organized, the line-up was fantastic, I got really inspired by the talks.

In this article, I would like to share some of my impressions and notes. It is hard to create an essence of the great ideas, thoughts, strategies I’ve heard thanks to this event. There were 14 speakers, all of them are great professionals, I can’t recommend enough to follow their work (I inserted medium.com and Twitter links, so you can start follow them).

This is a long article, it is not meant to be read from the beginning to the end all at once. Bookmark it to check out some parts of it later, or just pick the topics you are interested in most. If you want to read it all line by line now, grab a coffee or tea, and make yourself comfortable 😉

56 pages of my precious Amuse UX notes 🙂

“Next generation of value comes from algorithms”

Speaker: Giles Colborne (Twitter)
Talk: UX vs Artificial Intelligence

The next generation of value includes: chatbots, smart service, environmental computing, algorithmic intelligence, connected devices.

The question is: will the data scientists replace designers?

Algorithmic intelligence will have 4 categories of impact:

  • Shortcutting Input (e.g. My Fitness Pal — huge food database; Google is working on a tool which estimates how many calories are in the your food based on the photo of it)
  • Identifying Patterns & Data (e.g. Airbnb smart pricing)
  • Anticipating User Needs (e.g. Gmail: you can add a ticket to your calendar) — Anticipating what you need before you even aware of it!
  • Coordinating Complex Environments: HOW do you design services based on algorithms? Good method: creating an experience map (with user tasks, behaviors, personas, gaps, painpoints and meaningful moments)

An example for algorithm-based design: There is a bus company. The users’ need is: control their journey. First, we need data. What kind of unique data do we have?

  • Timetables — public knowledge
  • GPS data — unique (where the bus is supposed to be and where is now)
  • Weather Forecast
  • Traffic, road works
  • School holidays

These are the layers of the data we can use to design the experience.

Machine Learning is not magic, it is engineering.

The question is: what output is valuable for the customers? We need to test our assumptions (e.g. “Do they need to know about one bus?”)

To design a thing well, you have to truly understand it.

Each algorithm has its engineering constraints (e.g. accuracy). Simplify the dataset, so you can make more accurate predictions. But predictions will never match the reality, you can choose how you want to be wrong:

  • High Bias (e.g.: “the bus will arrive on time” — if there is a chance that it will be delayed, no one will miss it)
  • High Variance (e.g.: step counter — on average it’s okay)

Etiquette of suggestions: How to present to the user what is possible?

  • Clippy: bad solution, it was patronizing; his interruption was unwanted
  • Gmail: making suggestions to send the mail to … as well: decent guess, subtle, easy to ignore

Avoid suggestions based on random correlations (e.g.: online supermarket: item + another item often bought together, it offers a Durex if you have already put a cucumber in your basket). Don’t break social rules.

Etiquette is the next usability challenge.

Identify risks and minimize them! Make a list of things that people can get upset about. Empathize with the users.

Bot designs should focus on efficient conversations. E.g. if someone types in: “I’m in a hurry.”, don’t answer in a long message. Look for patterns in the conversation-transcripts, identify which answers fit the best, then simplify the dataset.

Strategies for intelligent service design: Data, User Need, Visualisation, Algorithm, Etiquette, Dialogue, Learn from Smart Services.

So the answer to the question: algorithm + UX designers make the interface usable. As a UX designer, you should stay relevant.

“Everything you do today will be different tomorrow.”

Speaker: Paul Adams (Twitter)
Talk: Why the Next Generation of Startups Won’t Build Apps

The Internet connects things together. People to people, people to information, information to information. Eventually everything connects.

However, the Internet is very young. It took hundreds of years until printing has matured. The telephone was intended to be a broadcasting device, it took years to find out that it is good for one-to-one communications.

The Internet’s inventions make progress and rapid changes in our society:

  • How we get the news (e.g. Twitter)
  • Commerce is radically altered (e.g. Amazon)
  • How we communicate (e.g. Facebook)
  • How we move (e.g. Google Maps)
  • Games (e.g. Pokemon Go)

The interfaces are between the makers (businesses) and the customers. Interface: a shop, a market stall, and now thanks to the Internet: websites. These are all destinations, where people have to go. We try to drive traffic to these destinations.

People are social, we are all connected, and we are interacting with each other. The Internet is now oriented around people. Services that allow people to connect and communicate: Uber (driver + someone, who needs a lift); Airbnb (host + guest) etc.

What are the interfaces of the Internet? Websites. These are still destinations. Appstores are destinations to download destinations. There are certain advantages, e.g.: ratings. But no one sits at home and thinks: “I need an other app.”

We are experiencing the rise of social platforms: people are spending their time inside these platforms.

There are two main tracks in the future:

  • People oriented systems, not destinations
  • Multiple interfaces, not apps

With browser technology advances the advantages of native apps are disappearing.

Example: Uber inside the Facebook Messenger. There is no destination. Parts of Uber have been reconstructed and placed somewhere else. The question is: “How do we design Uber inside Facebook Messenger?” It creates a different set of design considerations.

1st Era: designing screens

2nd Era: More of the services are starting to connect. It requires system design. It is an ecosystem of things: objects, actors, what is connected to what.

The best product people will be excellent system thinkers.

The future holds different set of design challenges, the task is: system design. Fortune 500 was created in 1955. Only 67 of them exist now. The reason: the other 433 did not adapt to change.

“Without research, we are just guessing.”

Speaker: Laurissa Wolfram-Hvass (Twitter)
Talk: The Audience and Usability of Research

It is important to understand users’ needs, and create experiences they want to take part in. Everyone is a researcher: listening, asking questions, observing, collaboration with others to understand needs.

With research, we almost promise accuracy. But we fail, and iterate. And accuracy improves.

As a smaller company, you have close proximity to your users. Then you grow, and it becomes harder to share information across the company.

Gathering research data is just half of the challenge, the other part is sharing the collected information in order to have a shared vision.

Mailchimp has over 10 million users globally. How to communicate the information inside the company?

How we get research in the best format? Reports? Presentations? Charts? Which is the most effective? How we get people to listen to us? Authority, power? It is not about the format or seeking out for authority.

The goal of sharing is empowering. Giving the tools one need.

Usability of our research: Easy to understand? To navigate? Does it solve a problem? You need to know your audience, in this case: your colleagues. You should now what matters to them.

Influence is based on mutual trust, you have to earn it. Always start with the question: “What is important for this colleague?

Create value by being the one with answers.

We can overwhelm people with information. We all have different learning styles. Ask the question: How my research relates to its specific audience?

  • Marketing: brand perception, words users use, competitor analysis
  • Designers: seeing things form the users’ perspective
  • Development: where are opportunities to create better things, where people are struggling?
  • Executives: retention, revenues.

Some techniques

  • Enable Immersive Learning: bring colleagues in (e.g. observing usability tests)
  • Organize Usability Lunches (food + looking at some photos from research)
  • Create Posters (e.g. with quotes from customers): it sparks interest, people will look at them.
  • Bring a filmmaker to the contextual inquiry session — so others can watch it later
  • Presentations (change the slides according to the audience)
  • Deliberately Start Mixing Up Teams (different perspectives, fresh ideas)
  • Customer Panels (live-streamed to the colleagues, so they get a chance to know the real users)
  • First-hand learning (eating your own dogfood)

Good examples:

  • Mozilla Firefox personas
  • Facebook Research — Minimusem: put all the research material in a room, people can walk around, look into it

Not every communication strategy will work for everyone. Start with people, understand what matters to them.

“We are Relationship Engineers.”

Speaker: Mike Atherton (Twitter)
Talk: UX is UI

There are many “UX/UI designer” jobs.

Survey question: What do you think a “UX/UI Designer” is?
The winning answer is: Other (29%).
2nd: A User Experience Designer, hired by someone who on this occasion really just needs an interface design (24%)
3rd: I don’t know (23 %)
4th: Anyone skilled in designing interfaces, who uses small amount of user research (21%)

There is a lack of consensus in defining UX.

What do we mean by User Interface?

In the early days, computer chips came through mail. Then GUI’s evolved, computers became mainstream appliances. With the smartphones, rich vocabulary of gestural interaction emerged. Now we use mobile phones to reach out friends, it is the extension of our long term memory, we share stories with it: it is not HCI anymore, but Human to Human Interaction. There are also invisible interfaces: only ideas and information what is left.

Content strategy is becoming more and more important. The experiences are driven by algorithms. We have personalized experiences based on our prior behavior. We are relationship engineers.

Businesses are built on trade. Their purpose is to keep a customer. We have to produce business and personal value with our processes. We help the business finding the value of digital. How van we make UX valuable for the Business? We need to focus on objectives and results. Empathy is not enough. We need leadership skills.

UX is not just making stuff right, but making right stuff.

The value must be greater than the pain: reduce friction; make easier to reach goals; moreover, create goals.

UX is about personal and business value generation.

In his famous book, Jesse James Garrett identified the layers, elements of UX. Now the Strategy layer is becoming more important! If you have a shit-flavored lollipop, UX design won’t help you. Designing a good value proposition is increasingly important. No one should say “This is not my job.” There is no “UX & UI”. Don’t create silos, go for unity.

Simplicity is not everything. Make the complex clear. Don’t be reductive.

Challenge: communicate better what UX really is.

“We want to connect people, make them happy, design for emotion.”

Speaker: Pamela Pavliscak (Twitter)
Talk: How to Design for Happiness

How to create long term, sustainable happiness? There are so many variables, lot of different type of happiness. We have to teach the machines a lot of emotions.

The Delightful Dilemma: the experience should be delightful. If it is not: it can be unnoticed, dismissed, boring, infantilizing, annoying, hurtful.

Happiness is complex: how can the design community use this finding? There are many different kinds of happiness.

Happiness has to be a balance between pleasure and purpose. Based on this a matrix for happiness classification:

  • Perceptive: pleasure-dominant & self-oriented (Strategies: sensory rich elements; opportunities for play — next to personalized suggestions include opportunities for trial and error; emphasize variety)
  • Convivial: pleasure-dominant & other-oriented (Strategies: layered communication — ways to communicate that engage several senses; rituals&occasions; mixed reality)
  • Compassionate: purpose-dominant & other-oriented (Strategies: shared purpose; generosity; gratitude)
  • Transformative: purpose-dominant & self-oriented (Strategies: gold stars — break up big goals into small ones and mark achievements; flow; big picture view)

Pleasure can be: in front of you (~movies); inside you (taste, hear, touch); all around you (e.g.: Spotify — discover)

Purpose can be: in the details; it can be the big picture; or the really-really big picture.


  • Bend Time: Give mental whitespace — moment to reflect, step back from the exercise (“How does it relate to me?”)
  • Invite Participation: through discovery, synthesis and imagination (moments of creativity)
  • Support Self-knowledge: e.g. Facebook forces you to look at 7 year-old memories
  • Foster Connections: Intimate, Tribal and Textured — reconnecting with people
  • Encourage Generosity: Affirm, Acknowledge and Amplify
  • Cultivate Creativity: Happiness is not a problem to be solved. Happiness is creating meaning.

“UX is a science”

Speaker: Janne Jul Jensen (Twitter)
Talk: Building a UX Department from Scratch: The LEGO UX Journey

The UX Background: Goal: Offer the LEGO employees (18 000 worldwide) a good UX experience. The commitment of the management was needed to start it.

The UX Journey: The UX department was established in the beginning of 2015. 3 month later they found their leader.

Current Focus:

  • UX Maturity Model: 1. Unrecognized, 2. Interested, 3. Invested, 4. Committed, 5. Engaged, 6. Embedded — they are at the 3rd step
  • Building competencies
  • Integrating into Processes: the UX team should be involved from the start of a project
  • Killer app: make the employee app that no one can lice without
  • Personas Project: Performance Patrick, Virtual Vincent, Expert Eva, Support me Susan and Encourage me Eric — IT employees of LEGO, it is a good high level starting point
  • Visual Design & Branding: Web Guidelines for Digital Presence
  • UX Toolbox: self-helping tool; when should a method be used and how; examples; “Do”s and “Don’t”s — pitfalls, rookie mistakes; illustrations; links to further resources
  • UX Library: collection of UX books inside the company

Going Forward — Where we headed: Teaching & Evangelizing, UX Networks, UX Academy; UX is not just the UX team’s responsibility.

UX Mindset:

UX design is not magical fairy dust that will make all your problems go away.

She reinvented the ISO 9241 definition of user experience: UX design is the process of designing digital products that are useful, easy to use, and delightful to interact with.

There are UX Skeptics:

  • “UX is common sense” — answer: “ Then many company lack common sense.”
  • “It is just the matter of taste.” — Test what is working!
  • “What makes your opinion right?” — It is evidence-based.

UX is a science: Psychology, Tools & Methods

What can UX do?

  • Lower the amount of wasted time, error and frustration
  • Heighten user satisfaction
  • Lower procedure breaches
  • Lower colleague-disturbances

“The unexpected can reveal new truths.”

Speaker: Steve Portigal (Twitter)
Talk: Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories

The talk was about bizarre stories that happened during a research.

You should share your own war stories. We are wired for story. The question is: What can we learn from these stories?

Survivorship Bias: overly optimistic beliefs about how the world works.

Right Mindset: Examine success in order to be successful.

Control is an illusion

Real actions take place on the field.

There is a GAP between abstract plans and the reality out there. There are many things you can’t anticipate.


  • It is okay to walk away from an interview. Knowing when to walk away is a skill.
  • Call for timeout, pause. “Give me a moment please.” (If it goes out of control)
  • Use the breaks your are given (It external circumstances abrupt the flow)
  • The unexpected can reveal new truths — You can have new insights, always stay open.
  • Improvise — Not following a script is not a failure. The script can fall flat.

Exasperating Participants

  • The idea is: get to people who will talk to use and share their experiences, we can observe them — sometimes it just does not work.
  • Participant can be hostile
  • Participant can be a liar (Presumption: honesty)
  • Sometimes you get no insights, just facts.
  • Good recruiting is essential.


  • The more you invest in fieldwork, the more you need a backup plan.
  • Accept that failures will happen.
  • If you can’t engage, change the topic (analogous perspective; bridge back later)
  • If an interview is going badly, stick with it
  • Don’t blame when you meet a dishonest participant

The Perils of Fieldwork

Danger scale: social discomfort; physical discomfort; suspicion of hidden danger; potential danger; actual danger.

Our job is to get out of the comfort zone. The question is: What should we tolerate?


  • Don’t go to the field alone
  • Know your limits and those of your colleagues
  • Look before you go (e.g. Streetmap)
  • You are a participant, not an observer
  • Consider the difference between uncomfortable and unsafe
  • Think about what to take into the field and how you display it (e.g. a camera)
  • Practice your observer-distance
  • Debrief with teammates about their feelings (any discomfort?)

Learn from others, so you won’t make the same mistakes.

“Work smarter with smart people”

Speaker: Russ Unger (Twitter)
Talk: The 3 Cs of Design: Charters, Critique, and Culture

Leading, designing and engineering: completely different skill sets.

We will be in charge one day! But there is no manual for leading design teams.

There are no managers. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only we are the one writing reviews, SOWs, slide decks and attending leadership retreats. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.


Team Charter: A unifying plan that a team agrees to as its rules of engagement and goals and objectives. It is a persona for your team. Let the team define itself.

  • Focus Areas: types of work we want and don’t want to do
  • Team Purpose: Why are we in this together? What are we good at? What should we be known for?
  • Commitment to Each Other: How do we want to work together? Expectations.
  • Perception of the Team by Others: How do we want others to view our team? How do we build this perception? How do we know we are there?
  • Areas of Growth/Improvement: Where do we need more experience? How will we know when we achieved the growth?

Then all team members agree to this.

Using this technique makes adding new team members more efficient.


Critique should be part of our culture as a formalized process.

Kim Goodwin: “Each one teach one”, Instead: “Each one teach many.”

System of Critique Buddies (later renamed: Continuous Critique): there are 2 critique leaders, who select teams of 3–4 buddies. It connects people who don’t normally work together.

Benefits: frees your time; identifies leaders; uncovers growth and training needs; strengthen critique abilities; distributed team communicazion; improves facilitation and presentation skills; improves design skills.


If one team member is acting like he has 2 jobs, and the other ones have 1 job (because they have a life next to it): it makes people stress out, they are making mistakes. To get out of this situation: you can say “no”, or get a new job.

Raising your hand is a sign of strength. You should not feel bad because you need help.

Work Hard, Play Hard: That is Bullcrap. Work smarter with smart people. So you can go home and spend time there.

Let people do things to stay weird. That’s why you hired them.

Give permission to say “no”. “I’d love to help with your thing, but I work on this thing. Talk to my supervisor.”

Set people up for success.

Hack the organization chart, make leaders.

Mitigate design surprises: Big, grand reveals are for amateurs (and for advertising agencies)

Lighten up: give chance to success or fail.

Slow down and plan appropriately.

Give it 5 minutes to think.

5 years test: Will it matter in 5 years? If yes, do something. If not: let it go.

Servant Leadership: be a shit umbrella for your team.

Create an environment which is good for your team. Give people space. Leadership is about your team, not about you. Focus on everyone else.

“Choosing is painful. Make users feel better about the choices they make.”

Speaker: Adrian Zumbrunnen (Twitter)
Talk: Designing Decisions

Designing Choice: How do choices impact user behavior? Making decisions: essential part of the job, but we have to give options as well! How can we make users decide better?

Example: Tipping in a coffee house

Normal way: you have a dial pad, you need to press 4 buttons to give a $1 tip. Instead of this: there is a screen with the following choices: 15%, 20%, 25% tip, custom tip, no tip.

Benefits of this solution:

  • saves you from mental calculation
  • changes the decisions (not “tip or not but, instead: “how much?”)
  • options limited to 3

Result: 200% more tips.

More friction means less tip. Friction makes you aware of the process of spending money.

Number of options

What is the ideal amount? Does it even exist?

In out modern life, we have endless possibilities. In a restaurant looking at the menu is a pain and pleasure at the same time. You can’t get two dishes at the same time, it creates frustration.

“We cherish the idea of having options but are often better off with less choice.” (Barry Schwartz)

Adding a meaningful option vs. cluttering the interface.

He refers to the experiment made by psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper (you can read about it here). To sum up: 24 varieties of jam attract more attention, but 6 varieties result in more purchases.

It is hard to differentiate between the product and its features. The flaw of the MVP: there is a trap, it invites us to add more features.

Less choice means more focus.

Placebo choices

If there are good reasons, we start to feel good about our decision.

In New York, 20 % of crosswalks’ buttons do nothing. The sense of being in control is good. People feel that the waiting time is not that long.

The rise of the bread makers: after introducing a premium model of bread making machines (with features people maybe don’t will ever need), customers started to buy the normal model.

Back to the “Tipping Example”: the highest tip amount changes how we feel about the other two options.

Deliberately adding an option can make people more decisive.

Moments Matter

It is critical to get a good response.

Google Maps: “This coffee house will may be still closed when you arrive” — it is a good interruption

Gmail: it you mention the word “attachment” in your letter, and you don’t attach anything, it will ask you “Did you forget?” — it is a contextual help

Copy & Past: Windows lets you choose: cut or copy. When you realize that you accidentally chose “cut”, you have to go back. On a Mac: there is only a “copy” option, and you can decide upon pasting that you want to move or duplicate it (you don’t have to go back).

The right moment can change the way people use and think about an interface.


It means that people can focus on their task (instead of our tool).

Flow (the idea was introduced by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi): total involvement, sense of clarity, rewarding experience.

Flow comes at a cost.

  • Facebook’s endless scrolling experience: it is so smooth, time just flies.
  • Autoplay on Youtube, Netflix.
  • Amazon: Buy now with 1-Click

Examples for deliberately added friction:

  • Interior design of an office: bathrooms are placed far away on purpose: it influences how people interact with each other, you can run into colleagues, it improves communication.
  • ATM’s: many people lost their cards, so it is a deliberate friction that first you have to pull out your card, then you can take your money.
  • Blogger: after the traditional sign-up flow, there was a “Create Blog” button. The blog was created immediately, people felt it was too fast (“Is something wrong?”) So they introduced a circle and a downloading sign. It added a human component. We expect it takes time!
  • Conversational interfaces: Adrian turned his website into a chat. The conversation feels natural, so the user feels comfortable. There is a deliberate friction: three dots are showing that the bot is typing (as slow as a human). It is a scripted conversation, but some people flt it is real.

Friction can improve design and make people more deliberate. It can give mental whitespace.

Default Behaviors

“Someone already chose the right option for us.” So you can spend more time with things that really matter.

  • Gmail: copying text format should be an option instead of default
  • Medium.com: they help users be better with typography (no double spaces, rightly formatted dashes etc.)

An interaction is like a sentence, we finish it with a period.

  • On Guardian’s website: there is a search icon > click on it > it does not blink, the interaction is not finished
  • Quartz: big, beautiful field with blinking, it invites you to type

Animation help to focus users’ attention.

Defaults can make or break the experience.

“Screens are fading back into the background.”

Speaker: Basak Haznedaroglu (Twitter)
Talk: Crafting Future-Proof Experiences and Smart Interactions

Novel interactions

Designers are toolmakers. Craftsman. We translate real world interactions into software. An interface is a craft too. We all started with command lines (~terminal), then GUI evolved to be more complex.

Clippy was conversational, tried to help us, but got annoying, it was disruptive and unfriendly. Everyone is trying to find the next Clippy.

UX is being redefined.

We already know how to speak to one another. Language is the human interface.

We are living in the era of smart (=good at learning and thinking about things). Things are making decisions on our behalf.

Now we have more problems than ever, like: air quality, global warming, crime etc, but we have new tools/technologies to fight these. Example: Nest — it sets temperature, it creates a new level of comfort. It helps us to think about e.g. this: how much energy am I consuming? It means: making a better version of ourselves.

Wearable technology: opens new door, creates opportunities. With them, it is possible to improve your life quality.

Design helps us build communities and shape the new generation.


  • littleBits: it “is leading a hardware renaissance where everyone, regardless of age, gender, technical ability, or discipline, can be creative with electronics and reinvent their world.”
  • Virginia Tech: car for blind people: it communicates through a sensory interface, shooting compressed air (it is a tangible interface)

Design should be universal and serve everyone!

Virtual Reality: Not only for videogaming anymore. Example: it helped doctors planning a surgery by mapping critical options before the operation. It creates a risk-free environment for medical professionals.

Design goes above and beyond!

Artificial Intelligence (deep learning, machine learning): it is the next big gold rush. The question is: “How the traditional apps can turn into non-interface invisible things?” Big challenge: interface-less world. It is easy to make mistakes (e.g. Rumba accidents).

The fact that tools know every personal data is discomforting, there are privacy issues.

Evil things can come out (e.g. TayTweets).

So designers are still relevant in forming habits, shaping life.

Future-proof Design Manifest

  • Speak the Language

“Language is a piece of social technology” (Mark Pagel)

Language is a marker of our tribal identity. We should use it to give personality for products. Personality is the new user experience.

She mentioned this article: The next hot job in Silicon Valley is for poets

Cortana is a personal assistant created by Microsoft. Voice actors, ethnographers and play writers worked together to build its cultural sensitivity and its personality (caring, competent, loyal, helpful, trustworthy).

  • Craft the Context

Personalized and contextual experiences. Awareness and adaptability is key! Technology should inform me at the right time. It is also about anticipation.

  • Be Relevant

We should concentrate on finding meaningful solutions. Rehabstudio has a website which showcases The Internet of Useless Things. For example there is a device called FitSpoon: when your are eating too fast, holes opens in the spoon in order to release its content. These things don’t really serve a good cause.

  • Strive for Effortless

No multitasking; No switching to one app from an other; No more app downloading

Arthur C. Clark said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” An example: in the Disneyland, you have a magic wristband. It allows you to have a frictionless experience: no standing in the queue; knows what you want to order in the restaurant; caschless.

“Good design is as little design as possible” (Dieter Rams)

Effortless means: right visual cues; minimum motoric skills requires; minimum mental load thanks to building on the existing mental models

UI designers design the interface. UX designers avoid the interface. No interaction is the best interaction.

  • Think like an Industrial Designer:

Ergonomics; building on metaphors (e.g. window, paper, pencil); translate the physics, the tactile environment

To Sum Up: Design is driven by constraints. But curiosity is our attitude. The world is a big canvas, and we are absolute beginners.

“Focus on being super-simple”

Speaker: Hilary Johnson (Twitter)
Talk: 3, 2, 1 Product Launch ???

Lily Cole’s Impossible.com is a marketplace for altruism and building communities. She went to Pivotal with the following goals: build a product for mobile; do it really quickly (design, validate and deliver the MVP in 3 month); meet the user needs better.

Result: Impossible People app. Users can offer or ask, share it with the community, and they are matched with relevant offers (personalization!). The app encourages the sense of togetherness.

The Process

They used agile and lean development processes. At the beginning, there was a 3-week long discovery phase: framing exercise, exploratory research. They also used the lean canvas technique, and tried to get to know the problem space.

It was important to increase the fulfillment rate of the posts (at the start it was 20%). Improving content relevance was also a goal, on the website there was lack of customization. They wanted to provide a native experience, so they developed a hybrid app.

Focusing on your core features

  • Get validation & reduce waste (lean and agile approach)
  • Focus on being super-simple: first you should validate your core features, if people don’t want to offer or ask, there is no point of developing the other features
  • Learn to say no
  • Share everything between teams, keep each other focused
  • Creativity outlet: keep creativity flowing vs. time/place aspects
  • Consider anti-personas: and iterate on those based on the research

Agile Transformation

  • Clients can take away the lean & agile approach: sustainable process
  • Objective decision making: the user research (and the data collected) is a nice place to point to when your ego is getting involved (pet features); research is a regular, ongoing activity; the whole product team should be involved, data should be interpreted as a team
  • Rapid feedback: weekly stand-ups, regular feedback sessions
  • Rapid response: nothing is final, the product has a lifecycle

Choose a tech stack that fits product goals

  • Involve technical team early on in product discussions
  • Trust in the development team (give them space and anatomy)
  • Ionic Framework: hybrid app, which helped rapid development

Leveraging Ionic to accelerate design

  • It includes free components (but you should customize things if it is necessary for the users and for creating the best product possible)
  • Customization involves a certain amount of technical risk: talk to developers
  • Pair to reduce design debt (weekly meeting: designers & developers)

Building a brand alongside product development

  • User research showed that brand and user delight is key for this product
  • Parallel with the product development
  • Iterations: simple line drawings first, then they got feedback
  • Relevant elements, e.g. different illustrations for the different categories
  • Test your brand with the users
  • It is a collaborative design process
  • Make time for user delight

“Start your designing where your users start their using”

Speaker: Samuel Hulick (Twitter)
Talk: Growing Your Userbase with Better Onboarding

“I think this app is trying to teach me a football formation” (Matt Miklic)

Start your designing where your users start their using.

Video Game Design: Super Mario Bros: Level 1–1 — masterclass of level design. It immerses you into the world, teaches how to navigate. People are not realizing that they are being educated (here is a video about it). But the ending screen of Super Mario is disappointing.

Avoid tooltips: you are preventing users taking the action you are describing. Non-interruptive guidance is better. Don’t throw everything at the user at the beginning.

He mentioned Optimizely as a good onboarding example. You can take a look at the onboarding flow and his comments here. The best parts:

  • It gives just one recommendation at a time
  • It guides through meaningful actions: you create a test, and only after that they ask you to create an account — 1st: value creation, 2nd: account
  • The tendency of Loss Aversion is being used: people dislike losing things more then they like getting things. It is a strong motivator.

Customer Lifecycle — AARRR model (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, Referral). The onboarding experience mainly affects these two stages:

  • Activation: not losing new users
  • Retention: not losing users we just activated

Activation phase: if the conversion rate is 15%, it is a good result.

Retention phase: 95%/month should be reached, less shows a significant problem. (So it is actually 95% of the 15%!)

Avoid tooltip-tours or showing how many screens are left from the onboarding flow by a horizontal row of dots. It only means for the user: “This is how many times I have to swipe left.”

Operate on the assumption that people want to skip the onboarding, so don’t use those dots.

Empty/Blank states: it can provide humanity, genuine help. Without a meaningful empty space, the app can be your own personal ghost town. And you ask yourself the question: “What did I do wrong?” Examples:

  • Youtube (2007): “You have no Friends”
  • Old Basecamp: Instead of “You don’t have any projects”, it said: “Welcome”, and invited you to explore it.
  • Slack: Slackbot says: “Hi, to start, what is your first name?” — The core purpose of the product is that you should use the chat, the Slackbot activates this at the beginning!

It should show how success looks inside the product!

Progression System is a good design pattern. Present the full journey in small, consumable chunks relevant to you at the given moment. It is persistent, not interruptive, demonstrates the progress as you go. You don’t start at zero. A good example: Linkedin.

The question is: how do we get people up and running? There should be a driving force.

Great onboarding not only lets you to get from A to B inside the app, but also in your life! It allows you to be a better version of yourself. Imagine, that you are Mario, and thanks to the fire flowers, you become a powerful, fireball thrower giant.

Endowed Progress Effect: when users feel they have already made some progress towards a goal, they will become more committed towards achieving that goal (here you can read a study about that). A real-life example: a car wash did an experiment, they distributed royalty cards. Half of those required 10 additional purchases (collecting 10 stamps) to get a free wash, but the cards came with two stamps already on them (so 8 more stamps were requires). The other half of the cards required only 8 purchases, and was given with no stamps on them (so also 8 more stamps were needed). Results: the first group’s redemption rate was 34%, the second’s was 19% (which is a statistically significant difference).

Making progress means success (even if it is incremental and small). Users feel that they have done something meaningful. “Looks like you are ready for launch.”

Sign on signs are not recommended (like tooltips): The product should be painfully obvious right from the beginning.

Invest on Lifecycle Emails: “Did you know we have this feature?” It is also onboarding, not only in-product onboarding exist. Get back on the users’ radar, pull them back in.

Why people mess up onboarding? Conway’s Law: “organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations”. So it reflects the way the team was organized, the reason is: lack of collaboration.

Onboarding is a part of the product design process.

Onboarding is the only one feature of your product that by definition every user experiences.

Examples for great onboarding: look at his website, UserOnboard for inspiration, e.g. Duolingo has a non-interruptive onboarding, the core product experience and the onboarding blends together, it is hard to distinguish them.

“Machines learn from us. We choose what to teach them.”

Speaker: Sara Wachter-Boettcher (Twitter)
Talk: Design for Real Life

Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) — a software which used to determine that if someone committed a crime, how likely will commit a crime again in the future. This software is not only incorrect, it is biased against black people. And we don’t know how it is biased, because the algorithm is secret. This technology affects people’s future, judges use it.

Designer’s work is never neutral. If affects lives. Everyday choices affect real life. Which world will your work help build?

Principles: Design for Diversity

Selfies taken by black people were identified by Google Photos image recognition as gorillas. Google said that dark-skinned face recognition is future focus. How could they even release that algorithm?

Kodak’s Shirley cards: it was always a white person, labelled as “normal”. Other skin tone is a deviation from the norm!

Who is worth designing for?

Facebook rejected native american names: “Your name is not appropriate” = You don’t belong here, you don’t fit. Facebook redesigned it: “Help us confirm your name”.

Period checker app: “Keep HIM in the loop.” — assumption: everyone has a man partner. Thoughtless copy-choice without any underlying reason.

Gym: a woman with a PhD title could not use her pin in the locker room, because the assignment was based on the title you gave, and the system’s assumption was that if you are a doctor, you are male!

We all have blind spots. We should find them, and change our perceptions.

We think that our audience is narrow and easy to picture. You think: “The world is full of people like ME.” It is easy to forget how diverse the world is. Exclusion built on the ground level causes domino-effect, it damages the entire system.

Machines learn from us. We choose what to teach them. If we have bias, they will perform our bias extremely well.

Principles: Design for Stress

She worked in a rape crisis center. They gave presentations to middle school students about sexual abuse. Statistically there were kids in the room who were abused. They gave them an easier way to open-up: the students could fill in a questionnaire. These kids were waiting for a lower barrier to tell their problems.

The case of Siri: Siri is Apple’s smartphone personal assistant. When told “I was raped,” Siri replied “I don’t understand ‘I was raped’. But I could search the web for it.” Who would use Siri for help in a crisis? Why did Siri react like that? Instead of calling this an edge case, think about the abused kids. Don’t push it outside your main view. Using Siri in a crisis is a stress case. The question of stress cases: will the design decision hold up, or it breaks?

You don’t get to decide which device people use to access the Internet: they do.

Principles: Design for the Worst

Design for reality. Tay was an artificial intelligence chatbot released by Microsoft. It tweeted about its admiration for Hitler (TayTweets). How many things that could go wrong were ignored during the design process?

Facebook: Your year in review, highlights of your pictures: “Eric, here is what your year looked like”. In the center of the picture, there was his daughter who died of brain cancer. Surrounding the pic there were balloons and dancing people.

Tumblr: trending tag notification: “Beep-beep! #neo-nazis is here”.

“Talk like a human” — What it means to be human at a deeper level. “Delight” is not the best design goal. It can be a blinder. Unattentional Blindness (~Gorilla Test). There was an experiment with radiologists: will they notice the matchbox-sized gorillas in the test results? 83% of them missed it! They are trained to pay attention to small details. Just like UX designers.

We miss small details we are not trained to look for.

Interfaces affect inputs. How people see themselves. Inputs change outcomes. Outcomes define norms. Design has power. How will we use this power?

“The real problem of healthcare is the lack of design.”

Speaker: Dr. Bertalan Meskó (Twitter)
Talk: Science Fiction Helps Design the Future of Healthcare

He designed his own profession: medical futurist. Sci-fi improves generation, it pushes humanity forward. Sci-fi is now real: e.g. the self-driving cars. Our children will think: we lived in the old barbaric era of driving cars.

The real problem of healthcare is the lack of design. There are two sides of the problem: hardware and software. What is in the medical black bag? The stethoscope is 200, the blood pressure meter is 135 years old. The digital stethoscope came out some month ago. Thanks to it, you can compare what you hears some month ago; its price is half of the analogous version; it can be remote. All in all, it is a disruptive technology.

Technological tsunami: it is hard to get medical students prepared. IBM Watson can process all the medical knowledge, and gives suggestions for doctors.

The future of healthcare

Accessible (both geographically and money-vise); personalized; preventive; augmented and humanistic.

Accessible: e.g. replaced, 3D printed limbs; possibility of having a shower in cast; drones can get the equipment to places where it is needed.

Personalized: Patient-design — How to design the healthcare system for them?

Preventive: e.g. L’Oréal’s health care sensor: you put it on your skin, it tells you if you got enough sun. A fitness tracker gives you an Amazon Giftcard, if you reach 10000 steps.

Augmented: Studying anatomy from a book vs. a having a 3D operation room.

Humanistic: We need to work on empathy, the human touch. Human touch can mean half of the treatment!


We are going to a new world. A guide is needed.

  • It is not the technology. It is us. We decide how to use it. For example: not technology made us antisocial. Technology should connect us, create a network among us.
  • Exponential thinking is needed for good healthcare design.
  • Healthcare is coming home. Patients are spending most of their time at home. These things are already out there: smart toothbrush, urine analysis in the toilet, digital mirror. We need good design to make those things useful.
  • Watch and read sci-fi. It helps discovering the ethical issues, it helps us prepare for the technological revolution.
  • Patients will lead healthcare. They are the most important element of healthcare.
  • We need to upgrade our own health. We are lab mouses for our own experiments. We need to put our health in our own hands.
  • We already have data. Smartphone apps and common sense help us to convert data to information. The next stage is knowledge, that is where design comes in. And by time, wisdom will come.

Our goal is to make ourselves exceptional human beings, standing on the shoulders of technology.

His top list of sci-fi movies: 1. 2001: A Space Odyssey; 2. Interstellar; 3. Matrix

Author: Krisztina Szerovay

Collect by: uxfree.com