UXLIBS II – Reflections

UXLIBS II – a very different conference to the first conference last year. Not only a day less, but at a less frenetic pace.  This year I did not feel like I was a contestant on the “Apprentice”!

Again very practical in nature and application.  Everyone was part of a group with a task to complete.  The tasks/presentation involved suppliers as well as delegates and covered recruiting volunteers, convincing colleagues about using UX and being involved and finally getting ‘buy-in’ from senior managers.  (The group I was part of).

The theme of this year’s conference was “Nailed, Failed, Derailed – successes and failures”.  Failure was openly discussed, almost embraced, Donna Lanclos (anthropologist, UX practitioner, guru and enthusiast) (@DonnaLanclos) – first keynote address.  I found this so refreshing.  As a profession we want to get things right, we are not always good about admitting failure and discovering what went wrong.  Get over failure and try something else!  Practical, useful outcomes can result from failure.

We have all failed, personally and professionally.  It’s what and how we learn from our experiences and move forward.

Andy opened the conference with an excellent analogy of UX in practice.  Andy used the train system in Hong Kong and Melbourne.  Andy thought the transport systems in HK would be more difficult to negotiate partly due to language barriers.  In fact his experience in HK was superior to that in Melbourne.  In HK, there are touch screen maps which indicate direction of travel, nearby stops and have contextual information.  In Melbourne, he felt there were many barriers, little help or information and reference to a MYKI with no explanation of what this was.

Leadership and management were recurring themes.  Donna highlighted the point that leaders of organisations have to be open to change.  Leadership is creating space for change.  Otherwise, nothing will change in the service/organisation.  Lawrie Phipps (Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, JISC), (@Lawrie), delivered the keynote speech on day 2.  The theme – Leadership & Change.  Leaders are not “other people” but a force that need to be aware and engaged in what you are doing.  For Lawrie’s thoughts on the conference go to – http://lawriephipps.co.uk/?p=8120

Some great examples from fellow delegate presenters – Carl Barrow – Student Engagement Manager at the University of Hull (@carlbarrow) – spoke of his excitement of attending UXLibs conference last year but having the feeling of fear and not knowing where to begin and the fear of failure.  Carl did overcome his fears and trained library staff in a selection of UX methods which they tested on their student library workers (60) in total.  The discovered information concerning library opacs and their location and signage.

Ingela Wahlgren – University of Lund, Sweden – Ingela and her colleague Åsa used a variety of techniques to look at how non-library users cope with an unfamiliar landscape.  The main focus of the presentation was a ‘touchstone tour’ (the librarian is taken on a journey around the library but a student in this case).  The task was to find a book, have the item issued and leave the library.  The journey for both was fraught.  The student rushed past the opac machines, then couldn’t login.  They had to register as they had not used the library.  Eventually the title was located and book issued, in trying to leave the library the user did not retrace their steps but went to an upper floor even though the exit floor was the same as the way into the library.  Rather bizarrely the student branded the task a success.  I think the librarians were drained by the experience!  Seeing the library through others eyes is an illuminating experience.  Many lessons have been learned through this project and being out into practice, improved signage for example.  Ingela won the prize for her presentation, very well deserved.

Takeaway messages;

  • Small projects are good UX starting points
  • UX is not surveys
  • Management need to know what UX is about
  • UX is about transformation.
  • For any project you need to communicate, involve others, you need to be grounded, you need to connect with people all of the time about your projects and what you are doing.
  • Don’t compromise. Think about what you want to deliver and do it
  • Never underestimate the impact of small changes. If we keep making 1% of changes, these build up into a bigger, more significant result.
  • Don’t try and please everyone, you will fail
  • Don’t be brought down by others – keep positive
  • Do we risk being left behind if we don’t know or understand what’s happening in our institution and other competitors?
  • Discover shared goals
  • Sometime you need “just enough research” you don’t need to do everything
  • The point of UX is not a set of techniques but the main point is getting the knowledge and using it.

 

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