Why did I want to attend it?
First of all, I was invited to come and give a talk by a friend, who lives in St Petersburg and works as a UX specialist (more about him later). He said people will be very interested in how open source design happens, what tools we use and what problems we face. It was an excellent opportunity to promote Red Hat and Fedora and meet professionals in my field of work. Furthermore, the UX scene in Russia is a bit different, and I was interested to find out how they work and what projects are going on. As always, conferences are great networking events, and I was happy to find out some people even came specifically to see me talk. So, altogether I really enjoyed ProfsoUX, now let’s talk about it in more detail.
City and venue
The conference was held in St Petersburg, Russia. It is a very beautiful, huge and cold city, that does not need much introduction. The venue itself I really liked: a couple conference halls just big enough, as well as a standing area, coat room, and resting zone.
I talked about open source and design, including both graphic and UX stuff, tools and processes and how and why to get started, mostly focusing on work of the Fedora Design Team. Slides (partially in Russian) can be seen here. I just had 15 minutes, so it turned out to be more of an overview. We did have quite a bit of time for questions after, and I’m happy to tell you that the topic is hot-hot-hot, especially questions ‘Why do anything if you are not getting paid?’, ‘Is open source software good enough?’ and ‘Where do you get money from?’. Some people came specifically to listen to me talk and I’ve spotted a couple open source enthusiasts in the crowd. Others had trouble using open source software some time ago and came to just bring that up. All in all, I think it went pretty well, and although they put me last on a program, the hall was not empty at all! I received some comments and suggestions on what to focus more and will try to give an improved version of my talk in English this Saturday at UXCampAMS.
You can find a description of his keynote here (look for English text). Eric talked about the importance of having a UX strategy, talking to all key stakeholders, especially upper management, as well as the definition of user experience. He defines UX as a sum of a series of interactions, in which case we can easily talk about UX of a city. He also mentioned that UX is situational, so, for example, UX of a city visitor differs greatly from UX of someone living in said city.
He talked a bit about customers and users and said that while all users are your customers, not all customers are users. Going on to strategy (what?) and tactics (how?).
His main point being: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there”. Then he talked for a bit about the importance of measuring and optimizing user experience, and how everyone needs to be on board with UX. When there’s a video of the talk ready, I’ll update my post. Mr Reiss is a great person, wonderful performer and I recommend everybody to take a look at his talk.
Other talks I attended
Often I wished I could be in 2 tracks at once, as the majority of talks promised to be spectacular. Some talks I did go to:
- Brain Computer Interface by Kirill Ulitin
- Introduction of UX processes into a working product by Andrey Ponomarev
- Stories about prototypes by Ilya Aleksandrov
- Designing an algorithm, that helps to combine clothes by Sergey Krivoy
- Designing a good interface for the blind by Polina Patsulda
- Diary research design by mail.ru group’s Olesya Kukoleva, Anna Preobrazhenskaya
- Shattered glass by Taras Brizitskiy
Actionable and useful stuff
Some interesting things I learned there: Kirill told us it might not be necessary to ask a person questions while conducting user testing, if you can monitor brain activity directly with the help of OPENBCI. Good thing about it is that it’s open, fast-growing community with technology available for everybody, and volunteers practically find themselves – everybody is willing to test the new cool technology!
While we were waiting for the next presenter, we were introduced to a term of Fundamental attribution error, which is an interesting psychological effect: people tend to explain their own behavior with external factors, and the behavior of others with their personal traits. So for example, when someone is late we tend to think it is their own fault, while the person in question will feel that it’s the external factors’ fault: the weather is bad, their sock ripped or there is a traffic jam, for example. We need to remember this in daily life in combination with assuming positive intent.
Following the keynote, I’d like to underscore the importance of having a UX strategy, as well as involving all the key stakeholders in the process of defining one and working on the user experience as a whole.
One more interesting thing I learned was when and how to use diary studies, a research method I haven’t used before. Its main application is to monitor user behavior over a prolonged period of time, when you need to find out how the feature will be used over time, if the person will continue to use it and why. It is a fairly huge and expensive type of research, which poses many problems for the researchers and users both, but sometimes it’s the only way to go. For example, one of the tasks ladies from mail.ru group talked about was how they got qualitative data on how people find, choose and read media online.
To sum up, I really enjoyed the conference and want to thank all presenters, guests, volunteers and organizers for a great event. Hope to see you all next year!