Yes I realize it has been awhile since I posted a blog. I am still alive. I have just been very busy. So what I have I been up to? Busy, busy with organizing meetup events, speaking at events and helping organize the Big Design conference. But yes, I am still alive.
So let’s to a quick summary.
Speaking for Service Design Dallas
I had the opportunity to speak about Enterprise Service Design for a local meetup group. I talked about how I modified the “Service Design Blueprint” framework to apply to creating a report for customers. We then asked attendees of the meetup to apply their own service design analysis to creating a theme park experience. It was a lot of fun talking to this fun group, then seeing how they could apply skills in the workshop.
Organizing IXDA meetups
As one of the co-leaders of IXDA, our responsibility it to create a variety of events that are of interest to UX and interaction designers in the community. We sponsored a portfolio review working session. We called out for seasoned professionals to help new students and transitioner pros coming over to the UX field. The practical tips could be applied directly to a person’s portfolio, and the students found this advice super helpful.
That’s a few of the things that have been keeping me very busy. Stay tuned for more writups of what is keeping me out of trouble soon. ha ha
Due to popular demand, IXDA Dallas recently helps a UX portfolio review. Having been a person who had to enter the UX field mid career, I know the value of getting advice and feedback on my portfolio from peers and professionals.
Though we had a lower turn out than expected – typical of any free meetup – I would still hail the night as a grand success. We had nearly 10 lead designers who paired up with students who are graduating soon and professionals interested in transitioning into the field of User Experience Design. The only requirement was that the mentee bring a portfolio to go over – no matter how rough or under developed.
As one of the IXDA leaders, I was the designated floater and social media promoter. Some of the feedback I heard while floating around included:
Show your process
Explain the problem you were trying to solve
Include your name and contact information on every slide
Don’t apologize for your portfolio
If you are transitioning from graphic design, omit branding and print design examples
Don’t just show the final resolution mock up, include all of the rough sketches and interim designs to help tell your story.
And on that note, tell your story!
An event like this is mutually beneficial for those who are seeking feedback and for those who are giving advice. That’s the wonderful aspect of the UX community: giving back and helping others. We all have so much to learn from each other. Whether you are a seasoned UX designer, or a student ready to break in to the field, events like this provide strength, opportunity for growth and encouragement for all parties involved.
The Dallas Chapter of IXDA (Interaction Design Association) participated in the first Word Interaction Design Day. Cities all over the world, in a number of formats, celebrated the day with speakers, panelists and activities to promote Interaction Design.
The theme for the first Interaction Design Day was Diversity and Inclusion.
For the Dallas event, we decided to host a panel of user experience, designers and leadership professionals to talk to students and audience members about how they promote diversity and inclusion in their work place. Since we were holding the event at UTD (University of North Texas Dallas) we knew there would be a number of students in the audience. So we also included a couple of students on the panel so that they could provide their perspective on the topic as well.
Sometimes with events, you have more topics you want to cover than time to cover them. I had a ton more questions than I knew we would be able to cover. Plus, with such a large panel, I knew that allowing 2-3 panelists to answer each question, and therefore offer a differing perspective, time would be short and questions would be few.
Some of the topics I wanted to cover included:
Why did you get in to UX design?
What do you wish you had known before starting a career in design?
How do you promote diversity and inclusion on your team?
How do you promote diversity and inclusion for your customers?
Student question: how do you promote diverse perspectives in your projects?
What are some of the questions a person should ask when going on interviews?
Student question: As a student, in relationship to diversity, what are you looking for in a work environment?
What advice do you have team members on overcoming bias? What about teams as a whole?
How do you handle the occasions when you aren’t included and should be?
How has your work environment changed since you first started your career?
Was there a time when you truly felt like you had a seat at the table? What led up to it and what happened next?
Wrap up topics
What advice do you have for people entering into this field and may not feel well-represented?
What advice would you give to those already in the field, but may not know how to promote a more diverse culture?
Of course, I only had the opportunity to ask a fraction of these questions. But as in typical Jen Blatz style, I was over prepared and made sure I had plenty of questions and topics to fill an evening. That is ok though. We still got to cover some really interesting topics in a short night. Students were very happy to learn from the professionals. The pros were happy to share their wisdom and experience. Audience members who were also professional gained a lot from the discussion. Overall, I would say the first World Interaction Design day was a success.
Guess who is the latest city to have it’s own IxDA chapter? Dallas!
Guess who is one of the co-founders and leaders of the local chapter? Me!
What is IxDA
That is a very good question. “IxDA, or The Interaction Design Association (IxDA) is a member-supported organization dedicated to the discipline of interaction design. Since its launch in 2003, IxDA has grown into a global network of more than 100,000 individuals and over 200 local groups, focusing on interaction design issues for the practitioner, no matter their level of experience.” Yep, I totally swiped that from their website.
So why does Dallas have a chapter now? Well, quite frankly, it’s time. We have an ever-growing Interaction and UX design community here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. There are a lot of major (and minor) companies with a strong UX presence locally. We want a place to gather, share ideas and feel like we belong.
Also, IXDA was created in Dallas to give back to the community. This is our chance, as interaction designers, researchers, product owners, information architects, students or whatever your profession might be to get more involved in your UX community. We don’t want this just to be the same old meetup where you show up, listen to a speaker and then leave. Oh no…. We want you to come to our events to participate, have an interaction with another human being, meet new folks, teach someone something you know, maybe even give a talk yourself. There is a fabulous design community in Dallas, and we want to give everyone a voice and a platform to get more involved.
“All people deserve to live in a well-designed world.”
Who are these leaders anyhow?
Well you know me, Jen Blatz. I feel very honored and privileged to be asked to join the leadership panel with two other great local UX designers. Coby Almond is a UX designer at Pivotal. Rahul Akbar a Design Thinking coach, and Creative Director at IBM. We casually met a couple of times to determine what value we thought this group could bring to the Dallas UX community, as well as how to kick everything off. Once we met, we decided that this was the right time and place to plant an IxDA tree to grow and nurture.
Nice to meet you
So this past week, we had our first meeting. I feel so honored that we had nearly 40 people show up to the event, curious and eager to get involved. We started off by introducing IxDA as an organization, along with it’s values and (best part) lack of membership dues.
Then we gave the mic to Dallas Give Camp. This is a local hackathon that brings together designers, product owners and developers for one weekend. In that weekend, these groups come together to design a website for a select group of charities to help the group better promote their cause and mission. This is also a great way for local designers to give back and help their local community.
Finally we wrapped up the evening with an interactive activity. We asked the room to break up in to smaller groups and grab the old stand-by of a Sharpie marker and a pad of Post-its. It was brainstorming time. We asked the groups to take a few minutes and come up with what they wanted the local IxDA group to be. Specifically, we wanted them to think in 3 themes for the IxDA group:
Their hopes and wants
Their fears no dislikes
Then we asked each group to select a representative to speak on behalf of everyone’s Post-it notes. To us, we view these notes as the way we should form and shape the local IxDA chapter. In the spirit of IxDA giving back to the community, we also want this community to decide what their want and need from this organization at the local level.
Overall, the first meeting of the Dallas IxDA chapter was a grand success. Not only did we have a good turnout, we also generated excitement and enthusiasm that some said has been missing from the UX community for quite some time. We hope that this enthusiasm grows as we host more meetings. Thank you to all of those who came out to “check it out.” And thank you for giving me the honor and opportunity to help bring this group to life and lead it to success.
We want you
Are you interested in participating in the IxDA community here in Dallas? Our next event will be World Interaction Design Day on September 25 , 2018. We are still working out the details so the best place for you to stay on top of the latest news is our @IxDADallas Twitter account.
Jennifer Blatz explores the world of UX through words and imagery