UX Australia 2014 – Melbourne Redux

UX Australia Melbourne 2014

UX Australia 2014 – Melbourne Redux


UX Australia 2014 Redux was a one day Melbourne based recap of UX Australia’s 2014 Sydney conference. It was a chance for those who had missed out to see the most popular presentations. The following is a brief overview of the presentations.

(Re)framing: The first step towards innovative ideas
Steve Baty

Framing – the question to be ‘solved’ – is part of the sense making capability of designers. It is the key to unlocking the creative potential of design. The role of framing are: identify and articulate new ways to thinking about an issue. Adopt a stance towards a group of people, their needs and wants. Indicate the scale of ambition expected from the concepts.

Focus on purpose, not product. The brief was to encourage older users to use existing smartphone technologies. Instead of redesigning the phone, or removing functionality, they focused on the experience around receiving a phone. The manual itself became the guide and ongoing reference.


Shift from functional to experiential. Children dislike having an MRI. Kids have to remain absolutely still during the process. If they can’t, they are strapped down, an pleasant experience. Rather than redesign the MRI, a story was created that the child takes part in. At a key point in the storyline, the child must lay as still as they can, which they readily do.

Different framing leads to different output. Steve gave an example of how language influence the ambition. Framing a problem with soft language like “reduce”, “improve” vs framing with absolute language like “eliminate”, “change”. Bill Gate’s approach to malaria was framed with absolute language. This resulted in the scale of ambition being “remove malaria”.

The role of mindset in user centred design Simon
Lawry and Zaana Howard

This presentation argued mindset is a key determining factor influencing how we behave and interact in the world. Despite this, it is often overlooked. Mindset being one of four design competency sets: mindset, knowledge set, skill set and tool set.


During a project for a telecommunications provider, the team identified two predominant mindsets: generative and receptive. A generative mindset believes they can create and affect their future. A receptive mindset responds to what circumstances life presents. Identifying mindsets changes how knowledge, skill and tool sets can be applied. It allows us to factor our approach, engagement and solutions to affect quality, trajectory and outcome.

StoryScaping and organising Ideas
Paul Taylor

Paul encouraged designers to explore branded storytelling. An experience plus a meaningful story leads to value plus loyalty. A cabbage patch kid with adoption papers is a story based differentiation, costing around $15-30. A build a bear assembled and customised during a child’s visit is an experience based differentiation, costing around $20.

The champion of these is American Girl. Coming in a multitude of ethnicities, a girl can find the doll that exactly matches herself. The dolls have back stories and can be enrolled in Innerstar University, an online virtual university where the doll avatar can navigate the various games, shops and challenges of campus life. These dolls cost a staggering $110+.


Storyscaping requires an organising idea, an active statement that defines what the brand must do to change consumer behaviour. For Toys r Us the active statement was “play with possibilites”. One outcome of this was the Geoffbot, a giraffe-like in-store robot controlled via your home computer or smartphone. Geoffbot can wander the store and look at toys (the neck extends). You can take photos of the toys you like and save them to your wish-list.

VicRoads case study: Bigger, better and responsive
Richard Perdriau

Richard’s presentation was a guide to responsive design do’s and don’ts. They presented the insights and learning they gained from the past 12 months spent redesigning and developing VicRoads as a responsive website. With 40% of VicRoads users viewing the site on a mobile device, a responsive site allowed for a single site to manage, and a more consistent experience across devices.


They emphasised the importance of collaborative design sessions. The design team, front end devs, technical architect and content writer would rapidly iterate on whiteboard, working on mobile and desktop together. Lean content was another focus for mobile first responsive design. With initially no budget and resistant content owners, an example page rewritten as mobile first got stakeholders on board to provide the necessary resources.

Desktop and mobile were wire-framed but tablets were ignored. Decisions on tablet breakpoints were made during the build. Responsive design patterns. Tabs at desktop became accordions at mobile. Tables on desktop became either scrollable, or vertical (you’ll need to complete the test, I got 25/32), depending on the information being displayed.

I’m looking at the meme in the mirror
Diana Runkle & Grant Klein

A look at trends in the last 10 years in UX, through the looking glass of line graphs. Number crunching, word clouding, way-back-machining and “I remember when” provided the data.


The prevalence of keywords were charted across the last 10 years, then compared with other keywords. Their conclusion was responsive and UX are on the rise, while design, social and web are on the fall.

Draw me a door
Supriya Perera

There are good times and bad times of the day to present. After lunch can be tough as you sit there sluggishly digesting lunch. Supriya presentation was a great little brain freshener plus a fun and easy introduction to user centred design thinking. Draw me a door. 12 scenarios, 12 different doors, but always about the end user.


Want to try it out? Supriya’s presentation lists the 12 scenarios. Spend no longer than ten seconds on each door, this is low-fi volume idea generation. Take 5 minutes and give it a try. It doesn’t matter your job description–tester, designer, developer, BA or manager–your experiences and interpretations will result in different end designs, and you’ll be one step closer design thinking.

UX careers: The good, the bad, and the ugly
Matthew Magain and panelists

An open panel discussion that covered the ins and outs of a career in UX. Topics included: how do you define UX? What are typical salaries? What does a recruiter look for in a candidate? Is UX going to continue to be called UX? Will UX subset into specialities? Agency vs in-house.

Can you wireframe ‘delightful’?
Ben Tollady and Ben Rowe

Products can’t simply be usable. The modern audience is exposed to and expects delightful, pleasurable and memorable experiences. Perceived value associated with a delightful experience can set a product apart. What is delight, and can you create it? Are established systems and processes still relevant?

The presentation separates delight into two subsets. Surface delight and deep delight. Surface delight is often very obvious and visceral. AirBNB employs a beautiful UI. Foursquare uses microcopy to remind users there are real people behind the product. However this type of delight is fleeting. It fades over time.


A deeper delight is when a product or experience is invisible. This is also known as just working. Flow—when you are completely absorbed in what you are doing—is deeper delight. iA Writer is a writing app designed with this in mind. It has no settings, no formatting, one font. As you type, the ui elements fade away, leaving only your type and the white page.

“People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves”. Delight is about improving the user’s skills, health and lives. It’s also about helping users to get from ‘suck’ to ‘awesome’ as quickly as possible, as shown in Kathy Sierra’s “Kick Ass Curve”.

The dirty business of UX in hospitals
Tim Evans

Tim and Isobar took on the challenge of hospital associated infections (HAIs). There is an estimated 200,000 cases each year. Staff washing their hands can prevent the majority of these, but this is not happening. Working with Southern Health, they undertook a UX design lead initiative to identify the causes, and investigate how it might be changed.

Embedded in the trenches at Monash to experience and understand, they discovered a disconnect between the staff’s learning style, and how information was taught. Banner blindness was one example. Hand washing signage is everywhere which leads to the signage being ignored.


The hospital is a complex environment. Staff may know about issues but the structure, environment and their daily challenges mean change is difficult to achieve. Medical staff hate observation and the intrusion of ‘outsiders’, making staff unwilling to engage.

Involving staff in the journey was critical. This involved bringing staff into the design studio and working through the problems. This caused something special. Exposing staff to design thinking started to change the way they saw their environment, leading to them identifying and addressing issues. With luck, this may lead to sustained change within the system.

Connectors, enablers and scouts: Innovation, financial services, Big Ben and UX
Harriet Wakelam

Financial service innovation is booming in London, the fintech capital of the world. This talk presented examples of fintech innovation, and areas of opportunity for UX design skills.

Big banks and startups typically share an uneasy relationship, but banking institutes have surprisingly begun creating incubators to foster innovation. The Barclays Accelerator is an example, offering a three month bootcamp style programme targeted at fintech startups.


Meniga is financial software that focuses on context, transforming raw data to help people better manage their personal finances. Meniga uses social curiosity, humour and gaming concepts to keep users engaged. Users can anonymously compare their spending with others, or automatically creating a budget based on historical spending.


Engagement, idea connectors and idea scouts. Idea scouts bring in innovation, but idea connectors are required to effectively deploy to a network. Design teams can work as connection hubs to preform this distribution and engagement. Harriet argued a highly engaged employee is highly energised and high performing and causes a flow on effect within their network.

Wrapping Up

The Melbourne UX conference was a worthwhile day. My preference is a practical talk. A presentation that explains the process or journey taken to reach the solution, how they solved it, and what insights they gained. I want innovative ideas, perspectives or new skills I can apply to subsequent work. The majority of these presentations provided that, probably due to the filtering nature of being a recap. To really judge, I’ll have to attend the four day Brisbane conference in 2015.

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