Tag Archives: usability

User Focus 2014

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The speakers at User Focus 2014 didn’t just focus on the user; they inspired us all to think more broadly about the UX profession. The conference on October 17 gave me a lot of food for thought. Here are a few of the highlights:

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Photo courtesy of Elaine Li

1. Consider the socio-cultural factors

Keynote speaker Curtiss Cobb described his research results looking at India’s socio-cultural barriers to internet adoption for women. Don’t forget about the social and cultural factors that influence users.

2. Look beyond the pixels in front of you

The UX profession is recognizing the importance of creating a unified, seamless, targeted experience across channels. We have to focus on the omni-channel experience to create a great user experience, not just on the individual websites or apps.

3. Responsive design is not the mobile design solution

We all know responsive design is increasingly popular for bridging the gap between desktop and mobile. It has its place, but it doesn’t solve everything. We have many techniques to solve unique problems. I hope Thomas Vander Wal will release a cheat sheet of his presentation that we can hang on our walls (hint, hint).

4. Use empathy to create accessibility

Svetlana Kouznetsova shared her personal experience growing up deaf when there was no consideration for accessibility. The most significant message was a lesson in empathy.

What if you couldn’t hear your favorite movie or participate in a video conference with your hearing coworkers? Try to empathize with the 20% of all Americans who have hearing disabilities the next time you are designing a website that contains audio. Provide quality captions for all audio content.

5. With digital empathy, tools measure emotion 

Andrew Schall and his team at Spark Experience brought the lab to the stage with a memorable live demo of emotion charted digitally in real-time. UX professionals now have a range of tools to use to measure the emotions of their users – eye tracking, electroencephalography (EEG), skin conductivity (sweating) and facial analysis, to name a few. These tools are now inexpensive, easy to use, less invasive than their predecessors, and increasingly accurate.

Thanks to everyone at UXPA DC, the sponsors and volunteers for making User Focus 2014 such a memorable event! I can’t wait for next year!

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Photo courtesy of Jerry Doremus

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Photo courtesy of Jerry Doremus

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Photo courtesy of Elaine Li

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Photo courtesy of Elaine Li

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Photo courtesy of Elaine Li

Blog writers needed!

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We at UXPA-DC have been fortunate to have some great blog writers and photographers volunteering as the real backbone of this blog.

And we need more! Whether it’s for a review of an event or a proactive interview, for just one time or regularly, we can use your help. Work on your writing skills and get involved with our fantastic UX community. And get some writing credits and some SEO Juice for your name, too.

If you’re interested, email me (Jonathan Rubin) at secretary@uxpadc.org

I got my UX job through Speed Networking (and you can too)

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by Molly Schwartz

speed networkingAs a job-hungry graduate student, I was peripherally aware of UXPA-DC, but I never thought its events were meant for me. I always assumed it was an organization for “real” user experience and usability professionals to get together, hobnob, and that I wouldn’t fit in. Luckily, I was proved wrong.

My internship supervisor was involved with UXPA-DC and he always encouraged me to check it out as a way to network and get plugged in to the growing field of user experience. His enthusiasm and unwavering intent to include me in UXPA-DC’s activities eventually overcame my inhibitions, and I finally attended a User Experience/Web Professional Speed Networking event co-hosted by UXPA-DC.

Thinking it would be an informal opportunity to meet lots of UX professionals and hear about the work that they’re doing over a beer, I just hopped over to RFD after work with the mindset that I was going to loosely organized happy hour. Boy, was I woefully under-prepared. The speed networking event was a structured, rapid-fire event with one purpose and one purpose only: to get people jobs. Even though I had no business cards on me and my “elevator speech” was unrefined at best, the event was incredibly productive and life-changing. I had the opportunity to sit down with employer after employer in three-minute intervals to tell them about my professional interests and giddily listen to them say those three little words that are music to any grad student’s ears: “We are hiring.”

I came away from the event with a huge stack of business cards, multiple contacts, and job leads. I was contacted the next day by the UX Architect at BoxTone, a tech start-up company, who I particularly connected with. I went in for an interview at BoxTone the next week, had a job offer the next day, and am now a happy member of the UX team at a tech start-up company. For any students looking for a job who are interested in UX, I would definitely recommend checking out UXPA-DC’s events because in my experience they produce more real results than any other networking event I’ve been to.

 Molly Schwartz is the Information Strategist on the UX Team at BoxTone, a mobile enterprise management company. In September she will begin work on a project to make digital information usable and accessible as one of the Library of Congress’ National Digital Stewardship Residents.