World Usability Congress 2018

In the middle of October, I went to Graz to attend World Usability Congress. This conference first started 10 years ago and even though it’s not a huge one (around 450 attendees), it attracts designers, managers and product owners from all over the world.

It was my first time there and I’m pleased to say that it’s organized with love, has a nice and friendly community and lets you learn not only from the speakers but through the networking with other attendees.

During the two days of this conference, there were almost 40 talks in 5 streams. It was quite of a challenge to choose and visit all the interesting talks, so here I’d like to leave my highlights on the ones that I really liked.

Change is constant: How to scale the impact of design (Kevin Lee, Visa)

  • Show first, tell later. Prototyping wherever possible. Don’t waste too much time before showing your idea to the colleagues or the world.
  • The tools are means, not ends. Remember, that any tool is made not for the sake of the tool, but to resolve an issue.
  • Do partnerships. It’s difficult to do everything alone. If a greater success tempts you, it might come out of a collaboration with a bigger company. Example: Visa + Apple Pay.
  • Invest in creating a Design System. What will it give you? Interaction and unifying the network as a part of the global community, creating greater value for the partnerships, better experience through the lens of the emotional design. Example: Visa Design System.
  • Making an impact is easy! Following the previous points lets you create a greater value of your product and an opportunity of a big impact on the society.

Continuous Innovation: Going beyond Agile, Lean, and DT toward a human-centered working paradigm (Andrea Picchi, ThinkDesign)

A lot of companies are now talking about having a human-centered organization, but unfortunately, not everyone is actually using it. What to remember: we can’t design the experience, but we can learn from the user. But how to implement a continuous learning strategy?

  • Prepare the change. Use OKRs to align the company, team, and individual but not to evaluate the performance.
  • Set the cognitive preconditions. Start from the reframing the roles in the team and teaching the required skills. Remember that active collective influences a passive individual.
  • Set the social preconditions. Check you interplay between business and human needs. How balanced are they?
    • Never reward for the individual behavior, because it’s bad for the team target.
    • Don’t reward the delivery, but the positive feedback from the customers and learning
    • Don’t allocate the budget per year but per problem solution.
    • Support the learning process.
  • Measure the change. Quantifying the adoption with behavioral metrics:
    • Thinking – the number of users involved/problems reframed/hypothesis generated.
    • Doing – the number of prototypes per project/prototypes per feature/prototypes-insight rate.
    • Environment – employee engagement/satisfaction/motivation/interruptions.

Hot Wheels & Barbies in 2020 – Designing new Retail Buying Experiences for Mattel (Rammy Nassar, Mattel Inc.)

There’s a belief that chatbots are easy and the future stands behind the Conversational Interfaces (CI). However, it turns out the CI are not yet at the required level of complexity. CI doesn’t always work and it’s not always needed. Before starting with the development of the chatbot, create a concept of the chatbot flow and remember that the shorter flow improves conversions.

Cross-Cultural, Multilingual, Localised, Global Design (Julie Blitzer, Design Group Italia)

When designing for a product in different countries one should take into account the cultural differences and remember that language isn’t equal to culture. All the cultures could be distributed into 2 groups: low-context cultures and hight-context. The first group is focused on individual values and tasks (English, German, Scandinavian, American cultures) while the second one is focused on group values and relationships (Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Arab). In order to make your product fit both groups, use the archetypes, not the stereotypes for designing and include non-native speakers in your research participants.

UX in an agile World (Oliver Pitsch, Trusted Shops)

The problem in the agile world is that UX doesn’t harmonize well with it. Instead of a regular Agile-Waterfall, Oliver suggests the teams use his Magic Formula: “Dual track agile in staggered sprints with design spikes”. First of all, it means breaking one agile track into Discover and Delivery tracks. Each track should have a separate sprint goal, but be visualized in the same agile board. The staggering means here designing for the upcoming sprints, consulting on the current sprint and evaluating the results of the previous sprints. The design spikes help not to delay current and following sprints by giving an answer to the uncertain outcomes.

Achieving product excellence through measurement (Russ Wilson, Google)

Russ was talking about the importance of measurement for improving your product and reducing the risk or its failure.

  • Always start with setting up the product goals.
  • Choose flexible metrics (Adoption, Retention, Revenue, Engagement).
  • Measure your current state, test concepts, evaluate new deployments (surveys, product logs analysis).

How to build awesome products – 13 principles for efficient product Discovery (Wolf Bruning, Otto)

  • 9 out of 10 new products fail
  • 9 out 0f 10 features don’t have value
  • Validate explorations and creations and update them until you get the validated solution for your product (Double Diamond process)
  • Design Thinking helps to go from Divergent Thinking (creating choices) to Convergent Thinking (making choices)
  • Fall in love with problems, not solutions.
  • Use 5-Why-Method.
  • Feel responsible for the whole product and the whole user experience.
  • Be open to unexpected outcomes, but stay focused on solving the core problem.
  • Take your time to research, but deliver the value to the customer ASAP.
  • Integrate the engineers into the discovery process.
  • Focus on outcomes, not outputs.

The mind of design that empowers (Alibaba Group)

A representative of Alibaba Group made an excursion into their universe and showed how they’re using AI and automated solutions for creating banners and fonts for the small online stores. Also, they have a tool for automated recoloring the products on the photos and for creating product videos. Even though these tools aren’t perfect yet, they are helpful for the store owners. For example, the products with videos are purchased more often (+18%) and even more often shared (+40%). While working on their products, the company distinguishes them for the minds of sellers, minds of traders, minds of audiences and minds of retailers. And the designers with the help of AI are creating a new design framework.


Yevheniia Nikitina

Yevheniia is our Chief Beauty Officer, making sure everything we do looks nice.

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