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Creative re-energizing...

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I'm so glad that I was able to attend the UX Immersion conference here in Portland, Or. So worth the price for two days of immersive workshops and a day of feature speakers. Today's the last day of the conference but I feel completely refreshed and re-energized - stretching out creative muscles that have grown too used to familiar patterns. Besides meeting some truly interesting and very smart peers I find the creative boost to be the best part of these gatherings. At the mixer last night a bunch of us were kind of laughing about how it would be so beneficial if company decision makers could attend these kinds of industry conferences. How we feel like we attend these things, tired and worn down from evangelizing the best practices as per industry standards. We laughed while analogizing: if we were boxers, the conference would be our corner and the speakers the trainers who refocus and reenergize us before pushing us back into the ring to once again fight the good fight. Hey man, sometimes we even win! All laughing aside, these kinds of conferences are invaluable.

I think one of the best takeaways from the conference so far was from the Rachel Hinman workshop on Prototyping the Mobile User Experience where she challenged us to cast off the shackles of designing for an experience we're already comfortable and familiar with (the desktop) and truly delve into the context of the mobile experience. Mobile is not a desktop computer, just as web is not print. It's very easy to get into the groove of the familiar design patterns we use day in and day out. What's not so easy is to realize they simply don't translate well to a different context. Plus, by trying to use the same design patterns in a different context you often times miss the opportunity to take full advantage of the native power of that context. Mobile is not desktop so don't design the gui on mobile, take full advantage of the nui affordances.

As well, the feature talks on fitting User Experience into an Agile development project struck some chords with me. Like many others in the audience, our development teams are transitioning from the traditional waterfall project management methodology to agile and like many others I feel we're struggling with folding User Experience into the development process. Hugh Beyer's talk was most informative to me - definitely yes, the UX person needs to be a full member of the development team so that their issues become part of the development issues. And adding a longer Sprint 0 for planning and research just makes sense. I'm glad the conference organizers were videotaping the feature talks as I'll definitely be referring back to share them at the office.  

Today, I'm looking forward to the workshop on Mobile Design for the Enterprise Intranet, a topic of close interest for me as a team member of exactly that kind of project back home. I'm sure I'll be getting a boatload of ideas to bring back.


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