We’re back to August, one of our favourite months of the year. Why, you ask? August means UX Australia!
Each year, UX Australia brings together user experience professionals from across Australia, and around the globe, for a learning and networking conference extravaganza.
All the action is happening in central Sydney this year, beginning with a series of full and half day workshops from next Tuesday, followed by the main event on Thursday and Friday.
Emerging technologies, evolving niches and adapting methods will be covered, from mixed reality, chat bots and writing for UX, along with plenty of insightful design topics.
As is UX Mastery tradition, we’ll be there with bells on, and we’re pretty excited. Here’s why.
The buzz of new ideas
Conferences like UX Australia are always inspirational—mixing with so many people, of calibre or conviction or composure, in quick succession creates a hyper-stimulation that keeps me going for the rest of the year. Meeting new people, seeing fresh ideas and combinations explained, all adds a renewed energy and direction to my work.
Of course, learning is a big part of that – whether it’s from the talks or through the workshops. The keynote speakers are chosen specifically for the power of their thinking, but often it’s the lesser known speakers who surprise you with their experience and insights.
If you really want to build your UX skills, the workshops have a reputation for being colourful, practical and eye-opening. Shameless plug alert: we’ve been asked to run our popular Introduction to User Experience Design workshop again on Tuesday 8 August. More on that below.
Other workshops will help you brush up on research skills, plan your career trajectory, or learn how to use mixed reality in your work. You can even spend the whole day with Mike Monteiro for a workshop based on his famous book: Design is a job—a masterclass in making a living as a designer, and upping your game when working with clients. Take a look at all the workshops.
You never know who you might meet at a conference like this. The duty of “networking” is replaced by a delight in discovery — the UX Australia conference is one of the friendliest in the world, so you’ll be happy in a sea of fellow UX nerds and have plenty in common with other attendees. Plus, the UX community is full of introverts (here’s some proof) expert in creating positive experiences, so there are plenty of opportunities to take time out, re-charge or mix with smaller and quieter groups.
Striking up a cold conversation can sometimes feel awkward, so check out these handy conversation starters. My favourite networking tip is to approach people already standing in a group of two. Discount any fears that you might be interrupting them; people in pairs often either already know each other (and know they should be mingling), or they just met and are already on the cusp of looking for a new conversation topic. Either way you’ll be welcome. Plus, who attends a conference to avoid meeting people? And if, ultimately, things don’t click it’s much easier to back out of a pair than to leave someone on their own.
If you prefer to chat over a glass of vino (hands up!), head along to the pre- and post-conference drinks on the Wednesday and Friday nights. These spaces are where the some of the most valuable conversations happen.
The speaker program this year is a mix of friends and heroes. As with previous years, there are two stages, so the only real struggle will be choosing which sessions to attend and bustling through the crowds to nab a seat in the other auditorium. Here are a few picks that caught our eye:
- The opening keynote by Sharon Mackay, who has recently been working with the South Australian government applying design thinking to policy reform in the areas of democracy, public participation and strategic engagement. Talk about meaningful work!
- Co-founder of San Francisco’s Mule Design, Mike Monteiro is giving this year’s closing keynote. Anyone familiar with Mike will know it promises to be packed with candid, no nonsense pearls of wisdom on the business of design.
- Ash McKay, our friend and a frequent contributor to the UX Mastery blog and forums, offers a unique perspective on UX as an autistic practitioner. She’ll share what it means to design with and for a different kind of mind.
- Content strategist from Facebook, Elena Ontiveros will dive into content strategy for chat bots, and how to make communicating with a robot feel more human.
- Also on content strategy, one of our favourite content strategists Matt Fenwick will cover how UX research and content creation can be better integrated, and why content is essential for fostering good user experiences.
- If you can’t make it to Andy Polaine’s workshop on Wednesday, don’t miss his talk on Living Design, exploring how services continue to evolve based on user needs.
- While Accessibility is steadily (but still too slowly) gaining ground on the web, what about cultural inclusivity? Adam Faulkner will provide a framework for a more culturally diverse user experience.
- We’re super looking forward to what David Blumenstein and Luke Watson will share about using humour and visuals and stories to jump-start conversations in corporate settings
- And so much more! See the full list of speakers on the UX Australia site.
The UX community
Catching up with friends and fans is how we feel at home during conferences. It’s a chance to step outside of the usual internet bubble and connect with people face-to-face, including our interstate and international friends.
So, if you spot one of us before we spot you, please come and say hi! Here’s what we look like. We’d love to chat with you.
Teaching the fundamentals of UX at our workshop
Back by popular demand, we are once again running UX Mastery’s flagship workshop — Introduction to User Experience Design — on Tuesday 8 August. This time I’m privileged to be co-facilitating with Donna Spencer herself. It’s going to be great fun!
We’ll cover the essentials of human-centred design for anyone who wants to understand more about the practical side of creating experiences. This workshop will help graphic designers, developers, business analysts, or entrepreneurs—you don’t need any background UX knowledge to attend. You’ll go home with a day of solid experience, a brain full of ideas and your notes and worksheets created throughout the day. There are only a few tickets left, and we’d love to see you there. See the details and book on the UX Australia site.
Are you as excited as we are? It’s not too late to get a ticket, but be quick: www.uxaustralia.com.au/conferences/uxaustralia-2017/
Already coming to UX Australia? What are you looking forward to the most?
PS You might not know that UX Australia publishes copies of all presentations online with audio for free. Take a look: www.uxaustralia.com.au/library