Midwest UX 2014 Sessions

A list of sessions for the Midwest UX 2014 conference, October 23-25, Indianapolis, has been published. More details and the full program are coming, but this may be enough information to convince you that you should register. I will organize a carpool so we can travel together from the Toledo region: that adds to the conference experience.

Check out the speakers page on the conference site. I have extracted some of the content here if that is easier for you, but my content will become out of date quickly (and I will not update it).

  • Mark Rolston. The Shapelessness of Things to Come. Our relationship with the people, places and things we surround ourselves with has long been defined, and often inspired by, the machines we create. As computing undergoes profound evolution, so does our relationship with our world. As a designer, Mark Rolston will illustrate the possibilities and the hope these changes introduce.
  • Peter Morville. The Architecture of Understanding. If we hope to move forward, the UX community must go down. We’ve been seduced by surface at the expense of understanding. We think we’re designing software, websites and experiences. But we’re not. We’re agents of change. Until we accept this mission, we will forever repeat our mistakes. In this spirited tour of information architecture and systems thinking, Peter Morville draws from his new book, Intertwingled, to reveal how everything is connected from code to culture. It’s a trip into complexity that delivers a simple message: the UX community can change the world, but only if we go deep.
  • Lorna Ross. Creative Destruction; Design as an Agent for Change in Complex Systems. Design as a discipline has migrated from its function as an element of the manufacturing economy to the service economy, consistent in its focus on the end user. Service design is a research based specialization of traditional product design with roots in ethnography, and systems thinking. It is effective in determines the most optimum touch points for customers to access a service and how these access points , in aggregate, become the experience. She will showcase projects and case studies and share general insights and lessons learnt. She will also touch on how the discipline of service design has evolved to adapt to clinical context and how creativity and imagination gain credibility in evidence based culture.
  • Stephen Anderson. Fumbling into the Future. From PC to mobile, and now into wearables and beyond, no one really knows what they’re doing. We are all figuring it out as we go along. But in these turbulent times, are there a constant set of skills – human skills – we can fall back on, to solve the right problems? Today’s design space bridges the physical and digital as information is pushed out to more devices. More than ever, we must design for experiences that span people, artifacts, and environments. We need skills to help us think about context, coordination, and connected devices. We need to think about ‘macro’ coordination (think Service Design / Omni & Multi-Channel). But more critically, disruptive experiences will be those that solve the ‘micro’ coordination challenges – getting devices and sensors to talk seamlessly to each other. We’ll look at how the role of UX designer is changing, as experiences move off the screen and spread out into the physical world, and how we can best prepare ourselves for an uncertain future…
  • Skip Allums. Designing Mobile Payment Experiences. Skip Allums’ new book for O’Reilly Media, Designing Mobile Payment Experiences, provides on the ground insights into the user experience challenges inherent in building mobile commerce interactions. This session will cover emerging best patterns in payments design, as well as ways to address consumer security concerns with UX best practices.
  • Chris Basham & Tara Bazler. Wayfinding on the Web: Design Principles from Exploring the Great Outdoors. Inspired by adventuring in the great outdoors, we will explore principles, practices, and patterns that can guide those designing a web navigation experience. How do we design for users wanting to browse content or just wanting to efficiently accomplish a given task? How does context, such as resource constraints, prior knowledge, knowledge acquisition, and personal experience affect how a user traverses an interface? How can navigational experiences adapt for context?
  • Noah Coffey. Playing Well With Others: A Practical Guide to working with Developers. Developers are an integral part to bringing your designs to life in a final product. Yet, many UX professionals struggle to effectively work with and communicate with their fellow developers during many phases of a product lifecycle (and vice versa). This presentation provides real world examples of these kinds of issues and how they were resolved, and tips on improving your communication and working relationship with the developers in your company.
  • Veronica Erb. The Self-Aware Researcher. Whenever I do user experience research – no matter the user, client, product, or method – I learn new ways to improve my research. Each experience helps fuel my deliberate practice of research skills. As a moderator or an observer, the self-aware researcher benefits from the opportunity to plan, practice, review, and try again. Over time, moderating becomes smoother, plans more thorough, and analysis more targeted. Come to this presentation to consider how, by researching yourself, you can improve your research skills and pursue the path from novice to master.
  • Tom Greever. Articulating Design Decisions. Every designer has had to justify their designs to a non-designer, yet most lack the ability to convince people they’re right. The ability to effectively articulate your decisions is critical to the success of a project, because the most articulate person usually wins. In this session, you’ll learn practical tips for talking about your designs to executives, managers, developers, and other designers with the goal of winning them over and getting your way when it comes to the final design.
  • Jane Reinberg Guthrie. Fidelity and the Art of Persuasion: How to Successfully Sell Your UX Vision. So you have a killer idea and you are ready to sell through your UX vision. You’ve got various internal and external stakeholders that you need to get on board. They have varying levels of technical savvy and involvement. But in a world of cross-channel experiences with an ever-growing number of touchpoints, communicating a vision can be a challenge. In this session we’ll cover the key ingredients you’ll need to sell a UX vision. We’ll examine ways to craft your UX deliverables so that they tell a story in a way that clearly communicates your vision. We’ll discuss the importance of selling the vision to your internal team as well as your external audience. We’ll touch on how to adjust the fidelity of deliverables based on an audience’s needs and expectations in order to make sure that the presentation elevates the content of the work. And we’ll explore tools and techniques to make deliverables fun, engaging and memorable. You’ll leave the session feeling more empowered to tell your story by understanding how to present a suite of deliverables that are more than the sum of their parts.
  • Nick Inzucchi. Post-Gamification. Rest in peace, gamification. The hopeful promise of magic tricks to hack engagement has been shown a lie. We see through your pontification charade, badge-wielding devil! How might we rethink the intersection of game design and user experience in this post-gamified future? Join us to explore strategies for designing gimmick-free experiences that motivate, challenge and surprise. No points allowed.
  • Simon King. Noam: prototyping strong ideas, weakly held. One of the most important principles for designers is having “strong ideas, weakly held.” This philosophy allows teams with diverse backgrounds to work together towards a shared goal, each bringing a point-of-view but remaining open as they observe the situation, try out ideas, and reflect on the outcome. To support this approach a team needs the right processes and tools to stay open to change. At IDEO, we start prototyping our ideas from day one. For projects with a diverse array of physical and digital interactions these prototypes can get complex quickly, which runs the risk of solidifying ideas too early. The writer Donald Schoen described design as a “reflective conversation with the situation.” A prototype with too much complexity can cut that conversation short, as designers hold on to existing ideas because new ones would take too long to explore. IDEO created Noam to make complex conversations simple. Noam is a messaging platform that allows designers to easily network hardware and software elements together, translating between diverse languages so the technology doesn’t impede the design process. Noam also allows individual team members to utilize whatever programming languages they excel at, while working together on a single prototype. In this talk I will share how you can use Noam and other tools to create more, code less, and hold your strong ideas weakly through the end of a project.
  • Jon Kolko. Well Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love. Industry disruption is possible by focusing on providing deep, meaningful engagement to people that use your products or services. This is achieved by designing products that seem as though they have a personality, or even a soul. In this talk, you’ll learn how to achieve this, by leveraging design in a product management capacity. You’ll learn an end to end process that uses empathy to create products people love.
  • Wren Lanier. Designing on the Z-Axis. No matter what screen size you’re designing for, multi-layered experiences are an important part of every designer’s toolbox. Flat may be trendy, but depth is where it’s at. The z-axis is a simple way to talk about designing up and down, creating interfaces out of layers that move independently of one another. We’ll look at innovative ways to combine layers and transitions to solve tricky UI problems, and discuss why it’s time for interaction design to embrace all three dimensions.
  • Ken Leung. Lessons Learned Building the Internet of Skis. At Normative, we’re actively engaged in explorations and experiments around designing for a networked future. For our latest R&D project, Peak Skis, we focused on the development of sensor-enhanced, network-ready skis capable of measuring various aspects of the skier’s performance, while facilitating the sharing of this data within a community of interconnected skiers on a hill. In this session, I’ll talk about our experiences developing both our physical ski prototypes and an accompanying mobile app for skiers. You’ll learn how to deal with a unique host of challenges around designing apps which network with sensor-enabled devices, such as determining what data is most meaningful to measure, how to integrate mobile app design with hardware design, and designing an experience that is ambient and seamless.
  • Christian Manzella. Managing the UX Team: Learning How to Learn Again. Some people get to a certain point in their career and find themselves running the UX team and they find that it’s different. There’s no more wireframes. There’s no more research. There’s no more photoshop or code. It’s not just the spreadsheets and the new business terms, the accountability and EBITDA, mixed in with the perfection we strive for as user advocates. There’s a sudden and distinct separation between them and the teams they work with. There’s a bigger picture to focus on, without losing sight of the users. There’s people, who are still the same people, who suddenly need to be productive…or did they always need to be productive…and… Sometimes the biggest challenge is understanding just what is it that you’ve stepped in to and what needs to be tackled first. If you’ve been asked to step into a leadership role, or you’re confident that you will get there, this is designed to be an exploration of the elements involved in moving out of being a practitioner and into being a UX leader in an organization. You will walk away with enough tips to get you started on a successful leadership path, enabling you to build, strengthen, and maintain great teams who do great things for great organizations.
  • Jen Matson. Measuring the Wrong Thing: Data-Driven Design Pitfalls. We’ve come a long way from Douglas Bowman’s infamous Google lament about having to test 41 shades of blue. Today, using data to inform and evolve designs has become the standard at large companies. And sophisticated web analytics and A/B testing tools are now available to more of us than ever before. But in our eagerness to leverage the power of quantitative data, could we possibly be measuring the wrong things? And if so, would we even know it? I’ll examine a few common pitfalls when trying to gather and use data for product design. Throwing Stuff Against the Wall. When you can test any idea, how do you prevent bad ones from being unleashed? The Meaning of A Click. Defining the right metrics based on the questions you seek to answer, not just what can be measured easily. Unclear Cause and Effect: Trying to determine the root cause of a change, when its connection to what you are measuring may be indirect. From working on projects where I’ve encountered each such pitfall – and sometimes more than one at a time – I’ve been able to increase my influence in the planning stage, where measurement decisions are often made, as well as improve my designs. So now when business stakeholders say “Ship it!” I can be confident that we are all measuring the same thing, and interpreting that data in a meaningful way.
  • Charlene McBride. The Internet of Broken Things: Designing for (Around) Emerging Technology. Technology provides the opportunity to dream about a better future, but as new devices become a reality, are we getting the future we expected? In 2013 I began an exploration of how my home could be transformed with a selection of sensors, devices and services that detect presence, monitor activities and change conditions. While I’ve found that some aspects of my life have improved with these devices, many questions have arisen about how useful any of this is. I will share some lessons learned for approaching these types of design problems from my connected home and the world at large.
  • Jonathan Morgan. How we will shop: Ubiquitous Computing and the In-store Shopping Experience. A wave of new technologies are working to embed computation into the retail environment. This means new kinds of in-store devices. It means new ways of understanding how people shop. It means technologies that communicate with smartphones, tablets, and other personal devices. But what it really means is that stores will be designed with computation as an integral part of the shopping experience. The technologies are here. Estimote Beacons, for example, are distributed wireless sensors that can be used for indoor navigation support, proximity marketing, and contact-less payment. And iOS7 includes iBeacon, a technology for seamlessly connecting multiple devices in a close-range physical spaces. You know how to design an e-commerce app, but how do you design for this? In this presentation, Jonathan Morgan will walk through his 2 year process of defining The Principles of Pervasive Retail Application Design. He’ll walk through several real-world examples, including a live demonstration an iBeacon driven application.
  • Andrea Neuhoff. UX in a Dual-Track Agile World. What do you get when user experience drives the the agile process? Dual-Track Agile, where the features of the product are discovered alongside the development of the product itself. This session will explain what dual-track agile is, the benefits of dual-track agile, the role of UX, and what to expect. It will focus on the discovery cycle, the role of validated hypotheses and assumptions and how UX uniquely contributes to this invaluable process.
  • Pamela Pavliscak. Be Data-Informed without Being a Data Scientist. You are a designer, or a coder, or a manager. Maybe you are even a unicorn. But you are not a data scientist. Still, you want to get more out of the mountain of data you have about your site or app to create a better user experience. No problem. This session walks through how to analyze, visualize, and really use 3 types of data – analytics, social media sentiment, and qualitative study data in aggregate – about your site without all the bothersome math and python programming.
  • John Payne. Cultural Affordances. Much of the discussion about user experience design is focused on use, but there are additional issues to consider. In particular, issues of meaning. I will present the concept of Cultural Affordances – qualities of objects that help people to understand through the frame of their own past experience – and discuss the ways that we as designers can more intentionally use cultural affordances to design more effectively for our audience.
  • Noah Read. Designers Can Code: There’s No Need to Fear. Learn how, as designers, you can embrace code to inform and improve your work, and ease collaboration with developers. Code is not a separate discipline than design, but a continuation of the same process.
  • Naa Marteki Reed. Pay It Forward: How To Mentor Your UX Co-Workers Without Them Realizing It. Want to be a mentor in the UX field, but you’re not sure where to start? Feel like you want to give back and help strengthen our industry, but running low on time and resources? You’re in luck: this presentation will not only reveal your personal secret UX superpower to you, but it’ll also show you how to use it on your co-workers to grow your mentoring skills, improve their careers, and build up the UX industry as a whole.
  • Edward Stojakovic. Abuse It or Use It. Ever sit on a park bench with dividers that keep you from sitting close to your loved one? The dividers on that bench are there to prevent impromptu skateboard rides and naptime for the homeless. Problem for abuses solved. But now a problem is created for actual use. The internet is full of similarly intended barriers to help keep the web safe, but sometimes they get to the point where utility is lost. From captchas to scams, robots to forgotten passwords, we are limiting the great promise of all the internet can do by overly shifting focus to abuse prevention from actual utility. This talk will look at several examples of how a product or service became unusable by a team too focused on the prevention of abuse rather than facilitating actual use. We’ll then propose several models for how to maintain focus on utility in a culture where abuse prevention has overwhelmed good design.
  • Greg Tarnoff. The UX of Stairs – When simple tasks aren’t so simple. A year and half ago I was a perfectly normal adult capable of anything I set my mind to. Then I started getting dizzy spells which got progressively worse. Today, I have 2-3 active hours a day, I shouldn’t drive, I need a cane and can no longer take the stairs. I see the world quite differently. I take the audience through this journey, as well as how the world ‘caters’ to people with disabilities. I’ll cover everything from the user experience of big box stores to using the web.
  • Todd Zaki Warfel. Make. Mentor. Learn. It’s never been easier, faster, or cheaper to be a maker. Designer, maker and author, Todd Zaki Warfel, will challenge and inspire you to become the next generation of makers.

There are also pre-conference “workshops”, full or half day deep dives into specific topics with experts, which you pay extra to attend. These “tutorials” (better term, IMHO) have been scheduled, so you can use the program page to see the presenter, topic and a short description of each.

If you like what you see, register! Midwest UX has been a great conference the first 3 years, and the 4th one, in Indianapolis in October, will be also be fantastic.