UX Thursday, Detroit, June 20

One of the June road trips I plan on making is UX Thursday, June 20th, in downtown Detroit (at The Colony Club – fancy!). A full day conference at a good price, with great speakers.

Jared Spool does fantastic presentations. If you have not seen him before, this is a great opportunity. In the past, I have gone to the same talk several times because Jared is both entertaining and educational. Some of my favorite Detroit-area UX colleagues are presenting case studies: another reason I am going.

Below is the program for the day, with some links to help you learn more about the presentations and speakers.


9:00am Registration and breakfast
9:45am Jared Spool, CEO & Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering

Jared Spool (@jmspool) took UX to a new level in 1988 when he launched UIE. And by, “to a new level,” we mean “validated UX as a vital component of our work, then spent the next 25 years conducting research and writing tirelessly to keep validating it.”

Jared often can be found onstage, where he captivates crowds with stunning data that reveal how UX can affect a company’s bottom line. He’s helped thousands of companies worldwide to increase their profits, identify interaction failures, and integrate UX research and design into their product development cycles.


Jared Spool will kick off the day sharing valuable research and insights on the effect mobile has with the user experience.

Past presentation: Mobile & UX – In the Eye of the Perfect Storm (this presentation is likely to be similar)

11:00am Jodi Bollaert, Director, User Experience Research, VP, Team Detroit

For the last six years, Jodi (@UXcited) has worked for Team Detroit, an advertising agency in Dearborn, Michigan, where she supports Ford Motor Company and other clients in the deployment of desktop, tablet and mobile web experiences. Most recently, she has been blessed with the task of growing a UX research discipline, and developing new ways of conducting research earlier and more often. With nearly 15 years of experience in information architecture, usability and now user experience, she knows stuff! (And is happy to share.)

Organizing the Detroit UX meetup group.

Experimenting with Radically Low Cost Testing Techniques

Reducing usability testing costs by a factor of 10 has the potential to change the way an organization engages with its users.

Team Detroit’s Jodi Bollaert will share their recent experiences with very low cost remote testing tools.

Experimenting with these techniques, she won a business pitch that included competitive analysis, behavioral research, and UX research at a price so low, her clients found it hard to believe.

11:30am Dan Klyn, Co-founder, The Understanding Group (TUG)

Dan Klyn (@danklyn) teaches information architecture at the University of Michigan School of Information and serves on the board of the IA Institute. He does IA work for clients including Herman Miller and JSTOR and his research focus is also his hero: Richard Saul Wurman.

Determining What “Good” Means with Performance Continuums

At the outset, it might seem clear what needs to happen to move a project forward. However, once you start working with the team members, you may discover that the path you planned is doomed to fail.

The Understanding Group’s Dan Klyn shares a tool they’ve modified from Richard Saul Wurman’s work to help identify what “good” means for their projects.

Noon Josie Scott, UX Design Research Lead, GE Capital

Josie Scott (@josies) is a User Experience Design Research Lead at GE Capital in Van Buren Twp., Michigan. She specializes in user experience research: facilitating customer “ah-hah!” moments and synthesizing their insight into digital solutions. Before her career in user experience, she administered Michigan elections and continues to promote better user experience in voting and civic life. Her master’s degree in Information Management and Communications from Walsh College complements her Bachelors in Journalism from Michigan State University.

Adventures in Mobile Usability Testing

What can you expect when testing your prototypes on mobile devices? Turns out a lot.

GE Capital’s Josie Scott shares her recent adventures of testing an Axure prototype of an soon-to-be-released financial application.

You’ll hear about how she dealt with changing Android platforms, system lag, and the songs of predatory birds.

12:30pm Lunch
1:30pm Chris Farnum, Information Architect, ProQuest

Chris (@crfarnum) has been doing Information Architecture and UX design for 15+ years. In 2009, he (re)joined the UX team at ProQuest, where he works on agile user experience teams designing search interfaces and library workflow solutions. Formerly, Chris worked at Enlighten, where he collaborated with multidisciplinary teams to create meaningful user experiences for brand sites such as TCS, Pittsburgh Paints, John Frieda, and Hunter Douglas. Chris started his career at Argus Associates after working as a reference librarian.

Shared Team Understanding Through Infographics

Does everybody on the team know everything we know about our users?

ProQuest’s Chris Farnum decided to make an infographic to share important high-level user characteristics with everyone on his new project.

He’ll share how he conducted the research, discovered a friend in the analytics team, and shocked his co-workers.

2:00pm Christina York, User Experience Manager, ITHAKA

Christina York (@UXtina) started her career in UX as an Information Architect 11+ years ago, practiced 5 years as a UX researcher, and now currently operates as a manager for an awesome in-house UX team. While her days of designing interfaces are behind her (sniff, sniff), she spends most of her time designing experiences around user experience: guiding stakeholders in strategic decisions, removing obstacles for teammates, and shaping perceptions of the UX profession. Frequently, she is caught struggling with technology. Occasionally, she runs social experiments on colleagues without permission.

Fighting The Urge To “Own” the Design

It’s hard, when you’re the only designer in the room, to avoid the perception of “owning the design.”

Yet, if we can pull it off, and convince the business owners and other team members to share in the ownership, we get a better outcome.

ITHAKA’s Christina York shares how she made this happen with the launch of a new business line.

2:30pm Samuel Bowles, Vice President, Mutually Human

Samuel Mikel Bowles (@shmuel) started his 16-year career at Burger King, where he held the ambiguous title of Webmaster. He has worked as an interaction designer, visual designer, and front-end developer. He is a dedicated practitioner of lightweight design methodologies and an international speaker on how Agile and Lean are applied to the practice of user experience design. He is a member of the advisory board for Human Practice, a Chicago-based healthcare startup, and Vice-President of Mutually Human, a software design and development consultancy in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Build Up Your Nerve: Encouraging Your Team to Shift their Thinking

For an organization to maintain its creativity and innovate, it must have nerve. Teams who feel the positive and negative effects of their choices throughout the creative process iterate, learn, and improve faster.

In this session, Samuel Bowles will explore how his team has applied human-centered design principles to build nerve endings into their organization. He will describe the power of incentives by sharing successes, failures, and surprises along the path to implementing them.

Learn how to design nerve endings for your organization, maintain morale in the face of the “tyranny of the billable hour”, and manage the tension between transparency and efficiency.

3:15pm Kate Kiefer Lee, Content Curator, MailChimp

OK, so if you love super boring presenters, you probably won’t enjoy Kate Kiefer Lee (@katekiefer). After all, her energy and sense of humor already can be gleaned from the MailChimp copy so many of us have come to enjoy reading.

She works with creative, marketing, and editorial teams to find the customer and company stories that need telling, then writes them for human readability. As a result, she’s become a leading authority in helping organizations establish style or writing guides that are empathetic and realistic.

Before MailChimp, Kate worked as a magazine editor in Atlanta, where she lives with “giant dog and average-sized husband.”

Voice and Tone

The best brand voices are honest reflections of the people behind companies. Kate will talk about finding your company’s voice and adapting your tone based on the situation.

She’ll walk you through voiceandtone.com, MailChimp’s guide for writers, and share some of her other favorite style guides.

She’ll also share some examples of empathetic content from around the web, and talk about a few lessons she learned the hard way.

4:15pm Networking and social