On Friday, I premiered on the big stage at Big Design Dallas. My topic was “Cognitive Biases: How to keep them out of UX Research and Design.” This topic us very near and dear to my heart because we all suffer from cognitive biases. You don’t have to hold a psychology degree to know that. The focus of this talk was how to recognize biases in yourself and others. Also what you can do ti fight of the symptoms cognitive biases. Finally, I told my crowd how they can “turn their frown upside down” and how to use cognitive biases for good in your UX designs.
For my first international/national conference speaking gig, I think it went really well. Sure there were a few minor mistakes that only (hopefully) the speaker noticed. My whole goal was to get the crowd interested and engaged in the topic. And I did that by balancing funny images, real-world stories and relatable content.
This was the third year for attending the local UX conference known as Big Design conference or Big D for short. All I can say that is we are really lucky to have such a conference here in Dallas, and at a pretty reasonable price. This year, Kim Goodwin, famed author and Cooper alum gave the opening speech.
I love attending Big D for a number of reasons. Like I mentioned before, it’s a great conference for any local level, let alone Dallas.
Second, there are so many good topics, it is so difficult to decide what session to attend. That is the most difficult part of Big D: to decide which seminar I am going to attend.
Big D it’s a great place to learn about new topics. I attending Marti Gold’s session about multi modal interfaces. As UX designers, we always need to evolve abd learn about the latest trends in technology to stay relevant. We’ve had to learn how to design websites and software, nd then how to apply that design to mobile devices. Now we need to think about designing for other senses like voice interfaces. Marti’s talk talked about the best practices of multi modal interface design. More importantly, how there are NOT best practices yet because it’s still a very young and emerging field. Her talk was particularly interesting to me.
In between sessions, the trade show or vendor area is a great place to hang out and meet new people. Most importantly, it’s a great place to pick up some swag. I think I have enough notebooks to last me a lifetime. ha. I would swing by there to meet recruiters, grab some energy candy and consult the schedule for the next session.
Finally, it’s a great place to catch up with old friends. I always see old co-workers from Capital One and always get the chance to exchange hugs with them. I also love connecting old friends with new (to them) friends. Conferences like this are a great place to network. Not only can you learn about your trade at Big D, you can also meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.
I recently attended the annual BigD conference right here in Dallas. We are really lucky to have such a wonderful conference right here in Dallas. It seems like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York always seem to get the love of big conferences. So Brian Sullivan, a UX institution here in Dallas, set up our own local conference.
This year was a milestone year of BigD. The conference celebrated 10 years in existence. Yay! We had some great presenters and attendees this year including:
Along with several local UX “celebrities”
Th best part of me for this conference to to meet up with old friends and meet new ones. BigD is a great opportunity to meet other UX talent from the Dallas community and beyond. A lot of people do not have the time or interests to participate in local Meetup events. So this is a nice way to meet other UX folks and to expand my network. Plus, like I sad before, it’s a good opportunity to reconnect with old colleagues and coworkers. Oh, and it’s always fun to get a big of swag.
Another good class I took as part of the Big D Conference was presented by Eva Kaniasty, the founder of Red Pill UX, and a research and design consultancy.
The role of the UX researcher is an important one. We, as UX researchers, need to design our research studies for analysis. Obviously when we perform a story, we are trying to gather important data. This data we gain in our research efforts need to be analyzed and our findings need to be communicated to others. We need to think about how to visualize our research.
Get your stakeholders to empathize with their customers and users. One way to do this is to take photos of the real people using the product. Don’t use fancy stock photography with posed fake models. Use your smartphone and take pictures of people using the product. And take more pictures of the person, sort of posed, to use as your persona image. This makes the persona more realistic and will provide the opportunity for your stakeholders to see the real person behind the persona.
I learned about the website UI Faces where you can go and get more “realistic” photos that are free to use in your personas or other needs. Granted, I checked this site out, and there’s a lot of avatars from people I follow on Twitter. But hey, your customer probably does not follow them and therefore they won’t recognize the images. So go ahead and check out the site to see if it needs your image needs for personas.
The problem with personas today is that many people just make them up. They don’t generate them using interview data or base them on real users. People often create personas based on “ideal” customers which is not accurate. Be sure that when you create personas, create them based on real research. Also make sure that they represent real people and customers, not ideal ones.
Additional notes from this talk
Pie charts are poor visualization tools much of the time.
Icons can be used to visualize data, but don’t over use them.
After you have a research session, write a quick summary right afterwards so you don’t forget the important details. The longer you wait, the more you will forget.
Videos are time consuming and become outdated quickly.
Quotes can be very powerful and easier to generate than video clips.
Look for patterns in your data.
Don’t use a word cloud to summarize data.
Word clouds are hard to read, noisy and the colors used can be confusing, portraying a confusing hierarchy.
A treemap shows the frequency of terms used in a combined bar chart.
Make any color coding meaningful and explain what it means.
Test with color blindness tools to make sure that color can be seen.
Do no over aggregate that data. That happens when you smooth and combine data together too much. When this happens, the data can lose its meaning. Don’t combine much because if you do, you can lose where the problems are.
Use words instead of illustrating with a bunch of repetitive icons.
Don’t use statistics for something subjective like severity ratings.
For “Ease of Use” ratings, use a bar chart, not a pie chart.
Stars are not good to rate the severity of something. People think more stars means “good” and that is the opposite mental model for the severity rating scale.
Dot voting is good to give everyone a chance to vote and it surfaces up the problems that need addressing first. The most votes wins!
I was happy to find out that there is a regional UX design conference here in Dallas. My worry was that I would not be able to find good local events once I left Los Angels. I stand corrected. I attended the Big Design Conference at it was really worth my time and energy. I met a lot of great folks, expanded my UX network, and learned a lot about the UX community here in Dallas and the surrounding area.
For my next few posts, I am going to share some of my notes of the talks I attended during the conference. I hope that more slide decks and notes will be shared from the classes I could not attend. There were so many great options. I had a tough time choosing which courses to take.
Jennifer Blatz explores the world of UX through words and imagery