Midwest UX (day 3)


To wrap up my thoughts and experience of Midwest UX 2013, let’s go back to Day 3. The last day was Saturday, October 19 and it was jam packed! We started off by listening to a panel discussion led by Christina Wodtke with the design leaders of Haworth, Steelcase and Herman Miller. The discussion ranged from how to design for the modern work place to design philosophy and coping with the changing expectations of consumers. My favorite detail of this talk was the fact that each guest brought a chair from their respective company to sit on during the discussion.

The lectures I attended gave me a lot to think about in regards for design techniques from a user perspective. First, I saw Christian Eckels discuss the similarities of designing a stage production to user experience designing. Interestingly, he has experience with designing both. The methods which overlaps the two are the use story telling and consistency with visual cues. To me, it reinforces the fact that when people experience something new, they need to be guided. The best way to do that is to use a method we are all use to, setting the scene and story telling.

Next I was able to get some better insight at a presentation about the power and potential of Google Glass. This technology seems exciting to some and scary to others. It is all about appropriate use of this technology that gives it its strength. To be honest, the reason I went to this lecture was out of sheer curiosity. I began with very mixed feelings about what to except from this revolutionary technology and left with a better understanding of how our world can benefit from a hands free display. Our presenter, Donna Lichaw, tied the presentation together with the how technology is both demonized and glorified by science fiction. I loved the connections using movies and TV that I grew-up watching, like Star Trek, Back to the Future, A Clockwork Orange and RoboCop.

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During a few of the lectures I used the app paper to take a few notes. It made me wish for a REALLY nice stylus. It also forced me to slow down my note taking to focus on making sense of what I really want to remember.

At lunch we had the opportunity to hear 4 PechaKucha presentations. This way of presenting information is an import from Tokyo as a way to streamline the, at times, longwinded presentations of architects. It is 20 images (or slides) with only 20 seconds per image to convey your message. It ends up being a very quick 400 seconds. I enjoyed the quick pace and I’d love to go to another presentation like it in the future. There is a PechaKucha Grand Rapids group that I will be keeping track of now.

After lunch I attended a lecture on how to design for social smarts with small screens by Sonia Koesterer. She pointed out that users do not want their lives interrupted by their mobile phones but for their lives to be enhanced. So how is the best way to do that? When is a notification appropriate and what should that message be to maintain privacy? It is our job as designers to know what helps and what one hurts personal experiences and daily life. Questions like these put the ball in the designers court for how it is best to document, remember and bring meaning to life with mobile phone apps.

Finally, I listened to a lecture presented by Kerry-Anne Gilowey on how to consider users from other parts of the world. She is from South Africa and many technology advances and conveniences that we get to enjoy in the states are unable to used. It gives you a lot to think about in regards to how to communicate with your audience. To relate it to my own work, I scaled the world down to the company I work for. This helps me to gain more perspective on the fact that when I work on a project for one of our outlets how it will be related to our other outlets.


During the final Keynote speech by Information Architect, Karl Fast, the audience was brought into the world of navigating information mediums. My favorite slide he shared with us is pictured above. Being able to understand when and how to use the information we collect when researching a problem will give a message strength. He also stressed the importance of collecting small data as well as big data. The details make the difference.


Yep! That’s me! This photo was taken of me during the workshop I attended on Day 1. There’s a great flickr feed with all of the photos taken of the weekend. It will give you better insight to the flow of the conference. The first photo of this post, the one above and the next one were taken by the great photographers from the event.


When it comes to my overall review of the conference I can really only say great things. For a User Experience conference I felt that the ‘users’ (ie. guests) were very well taken care of with little to no confusion. Announcements were given each morning and evening during the keynote talks, there was even a twitter tag made incase someone was lost it was aptly named #WTFmwux, which made me giggle. My favorite part was that there were representatives at each corner of the city streets when the large group was on the move to insure people were going in the right direction. That attention to detail really grabbed my attention. The collateral was beautiful and the staff was so knowledgable. I grew-up not far from Grand Rapids and this group really made this city shine. I heard from countless people that they were very impressed by the atmosphere for it being a small city. I was so happy to be part of a conference with people who are equally as passionate about design and experience as I am.

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