UX Camp conference at the IT University of Copenhagen. As the largest UX event in Scandinavia, participants from both Scandinavia and Europe joined this 3rd edition. This year was the first time I got the opportunity to join the camp, and I'm very glad I did so.">
A developer goes to the UX Camp

May 04, 2014 by Paula Petcu


A few weeks ago, in late April 2014, I attended the UX Camp conference at the IT University of Copenhagen. As the largest UX event in Scandinavia, participants from both Scandinavia and Europe joined this 3rd edition. This year was the first time I got the opportunity to join the camp, and I'm very glad I did so.

Built on the concept of BarCamp, the conference agenda is created by the attendees. They can pitch their session in 2 minutes and the crowd raises their hands if the session is of interest for them -- this is how the agenda is created. With only three presentations (the keynotes) known in advance, the rest of the agenda could have been about... anything UX. Luckily, there were a lot of attendees this year willing to host a presentation or workshop, and the agenda was full.

Working together

It was interesting for me to observe the issues that are discussed in the UX community, and one of the things I noticed was the focus on interdisciplinarity and on working together.

From Jakob Schneider’s slides on service design thinking

The keynote by Jakob Schneider on the second day of the event was a very good introduction for me in the "world" that the UX Camp attendees live in. It was amazing for me to see how things are done, and how the UX creative mind works and what tools they use. I can recommend his slides as an introduction to the service design thinking.

In his keynote, Jakob Schneider describes what often happens when a product is brought to market: from the marketing department, the idea goes further into implementation in the IT department; then as the implementation stage is finalised, it is given a price by the sales department; final touch is given towards the end of the project (sometimes even one week before launch?) with some design and “maybe some of this UX thingy”. That is of course not the best approach for launching a product, but this is how it often happens. The design and UX are maybe mixed up and left for the final part of the project.

Yet another presentation put for discussion the challenge of specialised people working together on a project. In this case, members of the project had roles of: UX, Designer, Developer, Client, and Client Boss. Sitting together at the same table from the beginning of the project made the team more efficient, gathering input faster and identifying issues earlier in the project. It seems like a very reasonable choice to have everyone on-board from the start of the project.

The Monetization Hexagon

Eric Reiss, author of Practical Information Architecture, had a great talk about the monetization hexagon, a tool to measure the monetization opportunities of an app, product or idea. Based on 18 aspects (with 3 points for each side of the hexagon), apps or products in general can be given a score. The hexagon was applied in business, but in order to make the case for the general public, Eric used this metric on three games. Eric concluded that there is no perfect score of 18 points, but successful apps demonstrate a score of above 9-10 points.

The Digital Citizen

Public websites where citizens are managing their information such as taxes, address or doctors were discussed in at least two of the presentations that I attended. The first presentation discussed the “horrors” of managing taxes online in Denmark. The second talk discussed about the creation of a design manual, with guidelines on how public self-service websites should look like on mobile devices. The focus was for the Danish self-service websites, as in Denmark 9 out of 10 adults and 1 in 2 seniors have a smartphone.

Convincing organizations to allocate budget and resources for UX work seems to be an issue, no matter whether it is a private or public organization. It is however much easier when the customer is involved and informed, and understands what UX is.

Search

During one of the breaks, I asked a conference participant whether search plays a big role in her projects or it’s just one of the considerations that is made towards the end of the project. She answered, “we discuss it”. Topics such as how to do the search filters are part of the decisions she makes in the mobile applications projects she works on.

I haven’t heard search being mentioned much at this conference, but I think there is an area that would be interesting for UX specialists to discuss. Maybe many think foremost about SEO when hearing search and thus don't make a direct connection between UX and search, but what about the user search experience? It’s an interesting area that was not explored at the UX camp - maybe a topic for next year.

Buzzwords and quotes

Here are some buzzwords, concepts and quotes that made my notes:

  • Digital Salesman
  • “A form can be a motivator”
  • Accessibility
  • Passion: Success or Failure (“succailure”)
  • CX (Customer Experience)
  • Personas
  • Customer Journeys
  • Sitting together
  • Mobile first (but don’t forget desktop)
  • Design in browser (when all concepts are clear)
  • Content first
  • Frameworks (can save time and money)
  • Good design: credibility, motivation, enable users to help themselves
  • Testing: http://www.browserstack.com/responsive

Next year?

It was great for me to join this conference, get a bit outside my domain and learn something new! I encourage others to do the same. The typical conference I join is either a research conference or a technical one. The conference attendees were very welcoming and friendly even though my background is more focused on the technical side and as such some of the concepts discussed during the conference were new to me.

I have not heard anything about when the next UX Camp will be held. This year the tickets were sold like hotcakes in only a few hours. I hope that next year more tickets will be put to sale. If you plan to join, I recommend that you follow the UX Camp website and their twitter account, and set a reminder for buying the ticket!



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