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2011 Conference Program

As promised, our exciting two-day program combines inspiring talks with hands-on activities (workshops) presented by a mix of regional professionals and international experts.

Friday, April 8
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm Kickoff Mixer The Export Room, Gordon Biersch
8:00 pm - ??? Pub Crawling! Front Street and Short North Crawls
Saturday, April 9
7:45 am - 9:00 am Registration & Continental Breakfast  
9:00 am - 9:15 am Welcome & Intro  
9:15 am - 10:30 am Keynote Jared Spool

The Secret Lives of Links

Links are the molecular bonds of our web sites, holding all the pages together. They are the essence of a web site.

Yet, what do we really know about them? If you create great links, your users easily find everything they need on your site. If you do a poor job, your users will find your site impossible or frustrating.

We never discuss what truly makes a good link good. Until now. Jared will show you the latest thinking behind the art and science of making great links. Join him for this entertaining and amusing look at the secret lives of our site's links.

Read Jared's biography.

10:30 am - 11:00 am Break  
Morning Workshop 11:00 am - 12:50 pm
11:00 am - 12:50 pm Interaction Design for Social/Mobile Innovation Haig Armen
Chris Stone

The evolution of mobile devices and affordable broadband connectivity give us, as designers, an incredible opportunity to design for real-time and even long-term behavioral change. Leveraging the platform as an advanced inter-connected social ecosystem provides us with the direct contact that's often needed for making a lasting impact.

This workshop will include an intense lineup of participatory design exercises that touch on a series of methods for designing compelling user experiences. The focus will be on social responsibility with the intent to affect change at a behavioral level. You will work in teams to execute a design brief that aims at breaking people from a particular set of habits by providing alternatives that result in far-reaching, beneficial effects.

Read Haig's biography.

Read Chris' biography.

Track 1 11:00 am - 12:50 pm
11:00 am - 11:20 am ¿Dónde Está? (Where Is It?) Oscar Fernández

The effectiveness of universal symbols depends on user recognition, comprehension, and consistent use. This case study presents the design and multicultural user testing of a symbol set for use in healthcare environments. Universal symbols must meet the needs of multicultural audiences, particularly limited English populations. Symbol effectiveness depends on user recognition and comprehension, yet evidence-based testing is relatively new in symbol design. For the design and testing of symbols that effectively convey intended messages across language and culture the involvement of relevant users in health care environments is key. For graphic designers, assessing results of evidence based comprehension testing is relatively new. How the symbols were developed from diverse student resources, tested, data gathered, and subsequent analysis and result is the focus of this presentation.

Attendees to this presentation, especially those within the health care industry will recognize the need for such usability studies, testing and further research whenever there is need for universal visual communication for diverse users in public, private or corporate environments. This is a growing problem in many parts of the United States not only in health care, but in retail, manufacturing, education, government agencies and the corporate environments. How to assess universal needs and to correctly test designated language groups will be covered. Economic and effective testing methods for universal communication testing will be presented.

A goal for this presentation is to introduce members of the usability professional community the critical need for usability comprehension testing and further research for developing effective universal visual communication, not only in this case study (hospital signage), but in numerous environments, both physical and virtual.

Read Oscar's biography.

11:20 am - 11:40 am Creating Data Driven Dashboards for Web Applications Des Traynor

This session will use real examples to show the audience how to design data driven screens in web applications.

Why is this important? With the growth in web applications over the past few years, the dashboard (or post-login screen) is always one of the trickiest to get right. What numbers matter, what trends matter, are we interested in precise figures or should we visualise an approximation.

What will it cover? The session covers how to design dashboards, what visualisations work, and what ones don't. It will also cover example dashboards for traditional e-commerce stores, web start-ups and more, complete with practical examples of real insights gained from having the right information to hand.

Who will benefit? The session will be of use to UX designers, Website owners, Business analysts, and folks working in the start-up space.

Read Des' biography.

11:40 am - 12:00 pm Flip This Lab! Retro-fitting An Older House As a User Experience Lab Jackie Martinsen

Designing a user experience testing environment to support participant comfort and researcher needs has its challenges. Researchers from Ball State University’s Center for Media Design will discuss how they transformed an aging residential property near their campus into a usability and user experience research lab with an authentic home environment.

Major tasks in the transformation included planning the layout and use of the limited space, retrofitting for adequate network access and equipment infrastructure, condensing equipment inventory across six different locations into one lab and designing several testing rooms to enable eye tracking research while optimizing the user experience.

The finished lab allows the CMD to test cross-platform applications in a real-world setting of an ordinary (not simulated) living room and home office. For example, if testing an interactive television application, participants are welcomed into a living room with a couch, TV and remote (Snuggie optional). A closed-loop cable "head end" system supports testing of fully interactive TV applications and the home office space provides an environment for testing of computer applications.

A photo tour of the lab will be presented to illustrate the challenges faced while flipping two living rooms, a dining room and two bedrooms into research-friendly spaces. Audience members will be encouraged to share and compare their own challenges and accomplishments with design and installation of research environments.

This lightening talk will benefit researchers interested in creating naturalistic testing environments and anyone who wants to change or improve their own research setting. UX practitioners with a focus or interest in consumer-oriented media research will also benefit from this presentation.

Read Jackie's biography.

12:00 pm - 12:20 pm Little People, Big Challenges: UX with Kids Carol Smith

Conducting UX activities with school-age children is fun and interesting, though it can also be frustrating at times. Children's abilities change drastically between ages 5 and 12 (Kindergarten to 5th grade) and in this brief session you'll learn the characteristics of these kids and how they can affect your study.

If you are planning a project whose user group includes children, this is the session for you. These aren't just little people after all, they have a completely different range of emotional, physical and learning abilities than adults.

Setting realistic expectations for what you'll be able to accomplish in sessions is an important step in planning the work. In this session you'll learn techniques for working with kids and how their cognitive functioning and emotional maturity might affect their ability to interpret and understand your questions and follow directions.

Additionally, you'll learn ways to deal with situations that can arise during research and testing with these age groups, such as parental intervention and behavior issues.

Read Carol's biography.

12:20 pm - 12:50 pm Track 1 Q&A  
Track 2 11:00 am - 12:50 pm
11:00 am - 11:20 am UX Research in the Real World: Stories from Rwanda Veronica Erb

When I went to Rwanda in June 2010, I learned that methodically structured research does not succeed in Rwandan teacher training schools. My team aimed to help teacher trainers improve education through expanding their access to resources and their ability to talk to one another through the web. Before we could answer our research questions, we had a few others to answer.

What do you do when you cannot stick to a schedule? How do you find participants when you cannot recruit ahead of time? What can you do without an equipped lab?

The answers to these questions required that we adapt our approaches to fit within a culture new to us. Each school we visited and each person we encountered offered a chance to refine the way we worked.

In the end, our revised approach not only allowed us to learn what we hoped to find out, but also encouraged us to explore opportunities that yielded unanticipated discoveries. Even with the trip half a year behind me, I find that its lessons have continued to affect the way I plan and moderate user experience research.

During this lightning talk, I will share the stories from my experience doing UX research in the real world. For the most part, you will get to sit back and enjoy story time. But don't get too comfy— I will ask for some sharing, and there may even be a language lesson. Wherever you do your research and whatever audience you serve, my stories from Rwanda will provide a fresh perspective on user experience research.

Read Veronica's biography.

11:20 am - 11:40 am Cooking UX with Cultural Leftovers Erik Dahl

The products and services we deploy are embedded within a "culture" and not just a context. Culture is an important concept, but often truncated to just context in lots of design research.
We need to think beyond user's goals, needs, desires, emotions, context, and psychology; we need to start talking more about culture. The social ecology and culture impact the frame in which your product or service will be interpreted, understood and consumed, or not. How do our design efforts fit within a culture and impact that very same culture.

We don't just learn about culture through our official research protocols or formal research activities. It's also about embedding ourselves in a culture and opening up to a critical discourse of cultural deconstruction, which we can and should be doing on a regular basis.

Design (even if data and pattern driven) is subjective and we bring our own historical trajectory to our designs. Having a deeper understanding of culture will have a direct impact on what we bring to our design decisions.

More broadly, as a design profession we need to be expanding our discourse to include culture and cultural theory into our understanding of interactions, experiences and design.

This talk will include my own examples from living and working in the US as well as observations from a recent research trip to Brazil. I will also be exploring cultural theory that designers can quickly start to incorporate into their work. The first step is exposing and making meaning of these cultural insights, and the second step is understanding how they apply to your design work. This talk will demonstrate why we should be paying attention to culture and what we can do with it. I will also propose practical ways we can build our collective cultural knowledge as a design community.

Read Erik's biography.

11:40 am - 12:00 pm From Cancer to Bankruptcy Brad Nunnally

In-Home Ethnographic interviews are great for learning about the personal details of a group of people and their environment. This type of research provides some challenges though, like when the focus of the study deals with extremely sensitive information.

Over the course of my career, I've twice had the opportunity to conduct research in environments where sensitive personal information and situations existed on two unique groups of people. The first group was made up of a cancer patients, current and past, and their caregivers. The second group, which is best defined as the "general public", with a concentration on their retirement funds and personal investing habits. It's important to note that the research conducted with the second group was right as the financial market was taking a dive in summer of 2008.

"From Cancer to Bankruptcy" is meant to tell the story of the people that were interviewed, and provide insight in how to deal with these sensitive topics, highlight interesting bits of data that not only brought value to the project but helped me grow as a person and designer, and finally offer some insight as to how to deal with situations where it becomes impossible to be the "impartial" observer. Attendees will be able to walk away with a basic understanding of how to arm themselves both professionally and emotionally for similar studies.

Read Brad's biography.

12:00 pm - 12:20 pm Empowering Teens through Design Education Larissa Itomlenskis

What are the real benefits of design education for teens?

This presentation overviews a design education partnership with 6th, 7th and 8th graders, at George Washington Carver Elementary School in Cleveland, Ohio. Completed June 2010, the 12-session course explored user-centered design through architecture. It was developed and taught by Larissa Itomlenskis, interaction designer, and Drew McKeown, architect. The collaboration was made possible through the organization and support of the nonprofit Progressive Arts Alliance.

Our main challenge was to make design accessible, fun, and relevant. We began with a discussion on how good design solves problems. As introduction, students were challenged to imagine how various user groups (examples included: samurais, NBA stars, snow boarders, or elderly people) might react within different environments (examples included: the moon, a monster truck rally, or an active volcano).

Our goal was to empower students to build a final project they were passionate about. Students explored problems they wanted to solve, and translated their brainstorming into a unique building design. They created floorplans, used Google SketchUp software to build 3D models, and created presentations explaining how their design affected target user groups. Student concepts were diverse and examples include education centers, recreation centers, sport training facilities, dream houses, clothing boutiques, a homeless shelter, and a retirement home for NFL players. The course had great success improving tech literacy, collaboration, hands-on problem solving, math comprehension, basic entrepreneurial skills, and self-confidence.

This presentation is tailored for designers interested in community outreach, educators, and social advocates. We'll overview how the course was structured, and offer techniques for have students participate in the teaching process, visual learning versus tactile learning, and creating a positive environment for critique and collaboration. Examples of student process work and final designs will be shown. In an atmosphere focused on standardized tests, offers an outlet for teens to be creative and address the problems important to them. The talk promises to be interactive, calling on the audience to explore the core of why they are passionate about design and what skills they might want to share with young people.

Read Larissa's biography.

12:20 pm - 12:50pm Track 2 Q&A  
Lunch 12:50 pm - 2:10 pm
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Working Lunch Session
Lean UX: Getting Out of the Deliverables Business
Jeff Gothelf

Traditionally, User Experience design has been firmly grounded in paper-based documents. Meticulous wireframes, heavyweight specs, granular flow diagrams, and branded presentations have been accepted as the de facto fruits of our labor. But do these deliverables solve business problems? In fact, they don't.

While each artifact provides documentation and a tangible work product to stakeholders, too much focus on their perfection has caused us to be measured and compensated by the quality of our documentation instead of by the success of the experiences we design.

Enter Lean UX. Inspired by Lean and Agile methodologies, Lean UX is the practice of bringing the true nature of our work to light, faster. In this talk, Jeff will explain the iterative strategy and team communication model that characterizes Lean UX, where documentation is not discounted but instead transformed into a practical and usable tool. Jeff will also explain how to introduce Lean UX to your team, whether you're in a large corporation or an interactive agency.

Through articulate visuals and humorous anecdotes the audience will be invited to participate in the discussion with their own questions and challenges. Interaction designers, IA's, UX Designers— anyone responsible for an experience of some kind— will benefit from learning how to get out of the deliverables business and back into the experience design business.

Read Jeff's biography.

Afternoon Workshop 2:10 pm - 4:00 pm
2:10 pm - 4:00 pm What UX Designers Can Learn From Going Out To Eat Jimmy Chandler

Most people have a few favorite restaurants, places to go when you know you want to be treated like a friend or family member, enjoy the company you're with, and eat well. My wife and I have a few of these standby places, which change over time as the restaurants change or our tastes and preferences do so. For special occasions, or just for variety, sometimes we will try a new place to dine. These new experiences often delight, and it's as if we've made a new friend, but other times we are turned off by the food or service, never to return.

So what makes great restaurant experiences? What are the keys to a successful restaurant business? How does that relate to what we do as UX designers?

In this workshop we will explore how great restaurants meet their customers needs, and how other restaurants fail to do so. We'll look at what Danny Meyer describes in his book Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business as the difference between service and hospitality, as well as lessons learned by other great restaurateurs, such as Ashok Bajaj of Washington, DC and Stephen Starr of Philadelphia, PA. Then we'll discuss which of these lessons we can use in our experience design practice to apply to the applications we design (web, traditional software, and mobile).

This will help us to generate stories and analogies that will allow us to better examine and explain UX principles to ourselves, our teammates and our clients. Since everyone can relate to these stories, sometimes using them as analogies to explain UX principles can help non-UX designers to understand a concept in a way they may not have been able to fully grasp before.

This workshop will consist of multiple brainstorming sessions and an activity. As the workshop leader, I will facilitate a discussion that will connect these generated ideas to what we know from psychology and neurology about how our brain works, how our emotions impact our decision making, and what great restaurateurs and great UX designers do in common.

Read Jimmy's biography.

Track 1 2:10 pm - 4:00 pm
2:10 pm - 2:30 pm From Mega Website to Mobile Experience Edward Stull & Marty Vian

From Mega Website to Mobile Experience: Extracting the Best from a Large Website for Use within a Mobile App

When designing a mobile application, one reference point is often the respective company's website. While frequently a good source for Brand information and demonstrated functionality, not all of this functionality is particularly well-suited for mobile interaction. Limitations and variations in screen sizes, finger-width fidelity and gesture-based controls all present unique challenges when determining the best means to present data and accept user input. Furthermore, mobile device intelligence not present on the desktop, such as location awareness, opens up new avenues of exploration for the UX practitioner.

A multitude of mobile conventions and standards are currently available today for user experience designers and architects to employ. Using these tools effectively— and sparingly— assists in meeting business objectives and guides a user to the effective completion of her goals. Lastly, insights gained during this process can occasionally be reintroduced into browser-based experiences.

Marty Vian, VP User Experience at Manta, and Edward Stull, UX Director of Shift Global, will present the Manta Mobile application and explain the various opportunities and challenges the two companies faced when designing the app. How to determine the appropriate feature sets; why some functionality is best left to future iterations; what artifacts are necessary to ensure stakeholder understanding; when to leverage existing GUI conventions and when to build new ones, are all topics that will be covered during this brief and entertaining discussion.

Read Edward's biography.

Read Marty's biography.

2:30 pm - 2:50 pm Adaptive Mobile UX Design Jen Matson

Whether putting pen to paper or mouse pointer to blank canvas in your wireframing program of choice, most of us still pick an unconscious 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, landscape-orientation starting point for our designs. And if we need to design for mobile, it's often on a completely separate track that uses a limited subset of the content and functionality we plan for in the "main web site".

But with smartphones now projected to be in the hands of half of all Americans by the end of this year (citation) it's vital that user experience architects understand some of the mobile-centric techniques and technologies that developers are already experimenting with.

In this presentation, UX professionals will see specific examples of HTML5 and CSS3 that have greatest impact on the user experience, including:

  • HTML5 form types used to create smart soft keyboard UIs
  • CSS media queries that serve up custom versions of the same page, making them truly responsive to any screen size and resolution
  • Device-orientation and location-awareness technologies that add a context layer to the experience of using a site or application
  • Semantic HTML5 tags that bring our wireframes closer to the code that developers use to create finished web sites

Any user experience professional, even those not yet working in mobile, can benefit by viewing these new techniques and being aware of how they can be used today and involving designers and developers in that conversation.

Read Jen's biography.

2:50 pm - 3:10 pm Mobile Design, Thinking Beyond Apple Brad Colbow

Going from a point and click desktop interface to a mobile touch interface dramatically effects how consumers interact with applications and web sites. Much has been written recently about Apple's human interface guidelines but what do Google, HP, BlackBerry and Microsoft have to say about designing for their mobile operating systems?

In this presentation you will be introduced to the world of human interface guidelines for mobile devices. What can we learn by comparing and contrasting the guidelines of these three mobile players and how can we incorporate it into our apps and websites? What are the main differences in developing for these platforms and what do user experience designers need to take into account before starting a project? Should you focus on building an app or make your website mobile friendly instead?

Read Brad's biography.

3:10 pm - 3:30 pm Don't Watch TV — Experience It Brian Stone

The introduction of Internet or Web enabled televisions (WETV) has spurred varying degrees of interests among hardware manufacturers and consumers. Its promise was that it would change the way we consume entertainment in the living room. Why wouldn't you want to have your TV double as an all-in-one set-top box or computer? Why pay $75 per month for cable when Hulu streams TV for free? Why sit with a laptop when news, video content, social media updates, photographs, games, and video chat are all available on a big bright LED TV situated in the comfort of your living room?

WETV presents exciting and intriguing opportunities but thus far has failed to catch on with a large amount of consumers. Google TV, Boxee, and other set-top box products will acknowledge that one source for this slow adoption is that ABC, CBS and NBC have blocked their online TV shows from view through these devices. Compounding the problem, and perhaps of more concern to our audience, is the obsolete forms of navigation and input as seen through the tradition TV remote control.

With vision and diligence, many of these problems may be overcome. Google and Apple are sure to ink deals with content providers and the hardware manufacturers are sure to improve input devices. Moreover, we believe the real promise lies with a robust delivery of application software (apps) specifically designed to enhance one's TV viewing experience in the context of the living room.

Students in the Department of Design at The Ohio State University have investigated ways to enhance the user experience of WETV. I will deliver a presentation that will outline our process of discovery, conceptualization, evaluation, and development. The presentation will be supported by several dynamic student results. My goal in participating in this conference is to share our ideas and theories on this emerging topic. More importantly, I expect to stimulate a dialogue amongst colleagues aimed at advancing investigations in this area. This presentation should be of particular interest to designers and developers who aspire to engage in this context of user experience.

Read Brian's biography.

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm Track 1 Q&A  
Track 2 2:10 pm - 4:00 pm
2:10 pm - 2:30 pm 10 Truths and a Lie: Answers You Need to Understand Web Analytics Erin Jo Richey

What do you really know about web analytics? Data help us understand how people use our products and services. Hiding inside web analytics platforms is a wealth of information about the actions and behaviors of our customers and users. Web analytics data don't give us the thoughts or intentions behind our users' actions. However, as user experience professionals, we can survey details from web analytics and combine that information with our own qualitative findings. Information from analytics can identify trends, issues, and possible problem areas prior to performing user research, and analytics can help us monitor users' behaviors after changes are made to a design or application.

So what do you really need to learn about web analytics? I'll go over 10 real, practical areas in web analytics and one frequent misconception. If you have ever questioned what a "bounce rate" really is, how to best segment visitors into different groups, or how to access the specific queries your users are searching for within your site, this talk is for you.

Do you know what modifications can be made to analytics platforms to return even more user data? Have you ever integrated user surveys with analytics to match responses with on-site actions? There are often more layers of information within web analytics platforms than most people realize, and that information can be combined with details from user testing, surveys, and interviews to get a rich picture of who your customers are and how they really interact with your product. If you know what to look for and how to use your data, information from web analytics can be a great complement to UX work.

Read Erin Jo's biography.

2:30 pm - 2:50 pm The Mystical Power of Descriptive Statistics Wendy Stengel

Does your analysis seem a bit lightweight at first glance? Do other UXers' charts and graphs kick sand in your deliverable's face?

Don't be afraid of numbers! You— yes, you!— can quantify anything!

You'll learn how to start getting real numbers out of your qualitative research, and get over the fear that you can't "do the science stuff". Plenty of rapid-fire real-world examples, including:

  • Content audits!
  • Web analytics!
  • Bargain wines!
  • Gendered social interaction in science fiction television shows!, really!

Read Wendy's biography.

2:50 pm - 3:10 pm Fast-Track Content Strategy with Mental Models Eric Wiley & Vince Frantz

Mental Models are like steroids for the UX process. They create a rich context and rationale for both near-term and future features and content while aligning them with your user's goals, philosophies and motivations. A research driven mental model can give you a timeless, solid framework for moving forward with confidence on content strategy, information architecture and user experience decisions.

When the time and/or money aren't available for a full-scale mental model process, (or when you simply want to sneak it in) you can still create a rich mental model that will provide a solid foundation for features, content strategy and general marketing strategy.

We'll present the fast-track version of Indi Young's Mental Model methodology for use when there isn't time or budget to do user interviews and/or a massive content audit. Originating from real-world examples, this 20 minute run-through of key steps and tools will give viewers all the tactics, selling points and confidence necessary to start introducing the mental model approach to smaller scale web apps and marcom sites.

Who will benefit: Anyone responsible for, involved in, or interested in the overall user experience, design strategy, content strategy or information architecture of a project.

Read Eric's biography.

Read Vince's biography.

3:10 pm - 3:30 pm Creativity Through Play Kimberly Callery

How can we engage more people in the user experience process? How can we get team members excited and engaged? How can we push the diversity of ideas created?

Using games, with a diverse group of individuals, will help to open people's minds, facilitate fun, and most importantly, encourage creativity. Agreements, discussions, and debates are encouraged and fostered in an open and inviting environment. This type of environment speeds up the idea generation and evaluation process. Focusing on great activities for the idea generation process, digs up opportunities and ideas that exist within the people you work with. This set-up allows for divergent thinking to occur, that eventually builds into convergent thinking which leads to rapid iterative prototyping and testing.

We will look at ways to plan, run, and execute brainstorming sessions in a manner that is set up for fun and function. We will review ways to use games to help cultivate an atmosphere that generates ideas and prototypes. Through images, samples, and stories, we will see how games can be put to use to produce tangible results. I have taken my experience in game design, teaching, and user experience, and applied it to the people, which is at the core of creating great ideas and products!

The purpose of this talk is to show how cultivating a highly diverse group of people, with fun and games, can create productive meetings and innovative brainstorming. Design, Development, and Management members will benefit from learning new opportunities to add to their creative process.

Read Kimberly's biography.

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm Track 2 Q&A  
4:00 pm - 4:30 pm Break  
4:30 pm - 5:45 pm Keynote Marc Rettig

Design for Life

The term "user experience" is part of a historical series: controls, usability, interface, interaction, user experience... Each term in this series labels an era of work and conversation, through which we've all been learning how to create bridges between people and systems, and between people through systems. At each step, we've realized our scope is too narrow: to do good work, to create in ways that are more likely to be helpful than harmful, to create wonderful stuff, we have to include more context, broader spans of time, and see through more points of view. And each of these stages involves letting go of control -- accepting the messy realities of life and learning to work inside its uncertainties rather than trying to control them.

This talk will be a report from a personal exploration of what it might be like to continue the series. I'm interested to know whether there could be a practice of creating healthy human societies, and what that practice might look like. I don't have the answer yet, but the exploration is already influencing my work and suggesting new frameworks. I'll take us on a flyover of some of the ideas, projects and people that have been inspiring me over the past two years. These are mostly from outside the world of UX. Some are from the streets, some are from design studios, some are from the pens of poets. Together they provide clues about how our skills, methods, and personal abilities can have greater positive impact on life.

Read Marc's biography.

5:45 pm - 6:00 pm Closing Remarks  
Saturday Social Event

After a day at the conference, head over to Huntington Park to grab some snacks and chat with other conference attendees!

Huntington Park is roughly a 10 minute walk away from the AEP building, where you just spent all day. Either follow the mob of people after the closing remarks, find a local to lead the way, or use the included map to navigate to the social event.

Once you head over your trek will be rewarded with hors d’œuvres, good company, and a stocked bar. Although we would love to be able to buy you a round, it just wasn't in the cards this year.

Huntington Park - 5 blocks from AEP
330 Huntington Park Lane

Map to Huntington Park
Sunday, April 10
7:45 am - 09:00 am Continental Breakfast  
9:00 am - 9:15 am Welcome & Intro  
9:15 am - 10:30 am Keynote Dan Willis

All You Really Need To Know About Users You Learned in High School (More or Less)

User research? A fad!

Personas? Like I don't know enough real people and have to make some up.

Usability? Hey, if that shopping cart was good enough for Amazon, I'm sure it'll work just fine for us. Not everything requires user testing, okay? We learned plenty long before we read any of those fancy books or paid for conferences just to have late-night drunken conversations about taxonomies.

In this presentation, we will revisit key lessons we learned back in the halcyon days of our early lives and trace the shocking relevance of what we already know to the 21st century's biggest user experience challenges.

Read Dan's biography.

10:30 am - 11:00 am Break  
Morning Workshop 11:00 am - 12:50 pm
11:00 am - 12:50 pm MacGyver Prototyping John Wayne Hill
Chris Basham
Wes Michaels

You have a new project with a client who is being difficult. You have a tight deadline, limited resources, materials, money and manpower. After your usual processes and methods, you're still not satisfied with the results.

Current concept generation practices are time consuming, resource hungry and costly for companies trying to run "lean" in today's economy. Ideas are tested using best case scenarios with predictable outcomes in hope of proving the concept's validity.

Innovation comes from fresh perspectives and generative methodologies and processes. MacGyver prototyping addresses these issues to help lay the groundwork towards innovation. Suited for practitioners of interaction and experience design, MacGyver prototyping is efficient, cost effective and allows for lightning fast testing, ideating and iteration.

Combining the best parts of brainstorming, group activities, quick-and-dirty prototyping and bodystorming, participants in this workshop will be lead through the methodology of MacGyver prototyping in small groups. Group discussion and Q & A will follow the activity facilitated by the session leaders.

What you'll learn:

  • Devise scenarios accounting for unpredictability
  • Utilize available resources to prototype artifacts and environments
  • Examine how assumptions effect outcomes
  • Judge plausibility of potential design solutions
  • Collaborate to create best-of-breed concept

* Methodology inspired by the resourcefulness of MacGyver in the 1985 TV series.

Read John's biography.

Read Chris' biography.

Read Wes' biography.

Track 1 11:00 am - 12:50 pm
11:00 am - 11:20 am Agile's Secret Step: Discovery Lis Hubert

Have you ever wanted to know the true secret to starting or enhancing an agile design and development shop? How about knowing what makes agile truly successful? After all you've tried all the steps, listened to all the process talks and still something is off.

Well, look no further because in this talk we unveil the secret step to agile... our good friend the Discovery phase. By going through a discovery phase that helps you unearth the problem you are trying to solve, and then scoping that problem out into basic features of your site, product or service, you can be rest assured that your agile shop is moving in the right direction. We'll no longer have to listen to complaints about the designer slowing things down, and we'll no longer have to argue about the proper state of the end product.

By defining all of that upfront, and adjusting it where necessary, we can leave the agile part of things to do what it does best, work quickly and efficiently to decrease risk, time to market, as well as increase customer feedback based design enhancements and overall savings.

This talk is for anyone that is looking to start or improve an agile work environment that is plagued by failures. The speaker will look to the audience for examples of past failures in order to highlight how having done a proper discovery phase would have set them on the right path for successfully working in an agile world.

Read Lis' biography.

11:20 am - 11:40 am Influencing Business Using a Wall of Knowledge Heidi Munc

Large corporations today typically understand that a user experience practice is necessary to obtain insights about users needs, wants and desires. But what is the best way to communicate those insights in order to influence the project direction?

Learn how Nationwide uses their Wall of Knowledge to illustrate current design problems, the problem's impact to the user, and suggest possible solutions in a way that influences the way business teams think about the project.

The process of creating a Wall of Knowledge invites discussion, getting stakeholders to come together and move around a physical space. It organizes large amounts of data in an easily digestible way, and encourages business partners to approach the problem from a different perspective.

Creating a Wall of Knowledge invites collaboration and debate. The end result is a communally created story, agreed upon by all of the stakeholders, that clearly illustrates the project's next steps.

Read Heidi's biography.

11:40 am - 12:00 pm Taming the Nine-Headed Stakeholder Monster Geoff Alday

As User Experience Designers, we carry a heavy burden. We know that ultimately, everything a user sees, interacts with, and experiences is our responsibility. But to get to the seamless, easy-to-use end result that we want, we have to navigate some tricky waters, including the Nine-Headed Stakeholder Monster. It *thinks* it knows just what the user wants. It can be hard to handle and sometimes just downright dangerous. The good news is that we can tame it using a few key techniques. In this talk, I'll share concepts and real-world examples that have helped me effectively collaborate with this unique monster, create better products and, yes, even enjoy the ride.

The origin and mythology of the Nine-Headed Stakeholder Monster

It's important to know not only who you're designing for but also who you're designing with. Each head represents an archetype you'll encounter during your design process— everyone from development to executives to all of those other people who share their opinions along the way.

How to speak monster

You'll find out how to ask questions and challenge ideas without getting bit. You'll see what to do when you make the wrong design decision (hey, it happens). And you'll even find out what to do when they say, "Make it pretty, mortal!"

Why monsters can't resist prototypes

You'll find out why prototypes are more effective at communicating your design than requirement documents and wireframes.

User Experience Design is hard but rewarding work. In the end, it's really about making someone's life easier so they can go home happy. If you do that right, chances are good you'll go home happy, too (and won't have to worry about that monster under your bed).

Read Geoff's biography.

12:00 pm - 12:20 pm Winning Big in UX: Changing the Problem-Solving Culture in Organizations Jay Morgan

The inertia of improper approaches to problem-solving in corporate culture keeps a lot of success out of reach. The skills we UX practitioners bring to work can help them see and solve the problems that haunt them (and us). We can help them to get over the fear of those monsters lurking in the closet, and to succeed in spite of this inertia.

UX fights for relevance, funding, attention, and a seat at the table. Small victories add up over time, but UX teams still get a small piece of the strategic pie. Our practice has more to offer than wireframes, prototypes, and understanding users. UX is poised to solve hard problems that hold back organizations. Solving those problems is the kind of victory we know we can achieve.

This presentation covers how we can apply our skills for understanding motivation, visualizing information, and communicating through design to win big. We can get to the heart of project- and organization-related problems in ways that our colleagues and executives hunger for, but don't know how to achieve.

The presentation will show examples of applying UX skills to win big in ways that earn attention, respect, trust, and money to support the work we do. I will discuss the attitudes and approaches we can take to win; and, how practicing those can convert others to share those approaches and attitudes.

If you want to advance Design and UX to realize its full potential in your organization, this presentation give you fuel for the fire. Living up to our potential is more than having ideas and ideals, it's about applying the skills we use every day to advance our position within organizations. It's about how we can bring success within reach by helping others solve the big problems.

Read Jay's biography.

12:20 pm - 12:50 pm Track 1 Q&A  
Track 2 11:00 am - 12:50 pm
11:00 am - 11:20 am UX with Bill Hicks Ian Fenn

Born in Valdosta, Georgia, William Melvin "Bill" Hicks was a stand-up comedian, philosopher and a satirist. Widely recognised as one of the world’s greatest stand-up comedians, his premature death aged 32 in 1994 left a legacy that continues to this day.

In this entertaining lightning talk, former comedy producer Ian Fenn will demonstrate what UX designers can learn from Bill’s approach, beginning with his much-revered honesty.

The talk will unite UX professionals in laughter but also encourage them to look to other creative and skilled disciplines for inspiration. At its heart, the talk will impart key guiding principles that should serve them well throughout their work.

Parental guidance is advised.

11:20 am - 11:40 am Beyond Frustration: Three Levels of Happy Design Dana Chisnell

Designers looking for ideas for turning up the notch on their designs. IAs who think that "products" and "solutions" as labels don't capture the conversation they want to have with users. User researchers and usability specialists who want to make a design something more than baseline usable. If you identify with any of these, this session is for you.

Design is about stimulus and response. We make things to elicit reaction. Often, UX is about spurring people to act: search, select, buy. But what if the response the team wanted to create was emotional? What if there was a specific, positive emotion attached to a technology experience? How might that affect engagement?

There's a vast difference between making a design that doesn't suck and creating one that people will love to use. While at one time it was enough to make something that was usable, learnable, or findable, we are pretty good at that now. We call that UCD. Where do we go next? Experience design. Designs could be much more: delightful or gratifying. They could help people find purpose and belonging.

In this session, I'll present a framework and a language for thinking about and talking about taking designs to the next level with examples of how how some designs are building in emotional, linguistic, and psychological cues - and making sweet, fun, engaging, connected experiences.

It's a talk, so I intend to do just that for most of the time. I'll leave a few minutes at the end for Q&A. I'll supply a Twitter hashtag where people can chat on the backchannel (but I am NOT intending) to pay attention to the twitstream during the talk.

Read Dana's biography.

11:40 am - 12:00 pm Reputation Modeling to Build Smarter Objects Bryce Glass

Once you start to consider reputation as part of an interactive system, it can impact— in ways both large and small— the ways you'll design those systems. In this presentation, Bryce Glass, co-author of "Building Web Reputation Systems" will present, and then dissect, a specific and useful definition for reputation: Reputation is Information used to make a Value Judgement about a Person or Thing.

And expand on some of these core concepts, specifically:

  • What kinds of value judgments can reputation enable?
  • What kinds of things make for good reputable objects?
  • What kinds of information best embodies reputation? And how can we instrument our applications and sites to best capture it?

In addition, Bryce will will unveil a new concept map for reputation systems that attempts to provide a visual narrative of many of the concepts from his book.

Read Bryce's biography.

12:00 pm - 12:20 pm Defining the User Experience of Emotion and Content Jason Wishard


We as user experience practitioners are faced daily with helping users to not only get to the content they want, but recall and share that content with others.


Explain the differences and similarities between different recollection and sharing models and how they impact the user experience of content.


Content used to be about the user going and "getting it", now we rely more and more on content that we can retrieve over and over and content that is not only sent to us based upon what we tell a system to send to us, but what our friends, family and colleagues recommend to us.


  • Why we use "Liking", "Favoriting", "Starring" and "Bookmarking"
  • What the difference are between these different models and the perception they carry
  • How these different models impact what a user will do with your content

Read Jason's biography.

12:20 pm - 12:50 pm Track 2 Q&A  
Lunch 12:50 pm - 2:10 pm
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Working Lunch Session
Every UX Person Needs a Portfolio
Abby Covert

"No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof." - Henry David Thoreau

As the market for user experience work continues to grow, every differentiator will count towards getting the job. Gone are the days of being able to talk over your future employer's head by just showing the latest deliverable you are working on.

Welcome instead to a world where your work is finally being measured not by what you say it was, but by what it really was.

In this workshop the reasons for creating a portfolio will be reviewed, but the focus will be on how to think through and execute the creation of a great user experience portfolio.

Topics include:

  • How to build a framework and storyline
  • How to decide format and distribution
  • How to avoid being exhaustive while showing depth
  • How to get around "what you are allowed to show"

Read Abby's biography.

Afternoon Workshop 2:10 pm - 4:00 pm
2:10 pm - 4:10 pm Practical Accessibility Chris Merkel

The design and development communities do want to plan and build accessibility features into products, yet most departments don't have a big lab, and rarely have direct familiarity with the major access devices and software used by the disabled. Even with the best intentions, companies' products might be merely accessible, but are not practically usable.

This workshop will expand participants' knowledge outside of the "industry standard" checklists, and bring real understanding of this large pool of users. Videos of real disabled users will be shown, in addition to in-person and hands-on demonstrations of a screen reader and a braille printer, details of current and upcoming federal and legal regulations, and overviews of recent legal battles in courts. For each example, practical tips and exercises will be run through to show problems disabled users face in these situations, with practical usability solutions for them.

With a hands-on exercise using a screen reader, the audience will have an experience of using common websites with only a keyboard and no visuals. After the workshop, participants will have a more thorough, hands-on empathy of how the disabled use an operating system and navigate websites, and will be better prepared to re-think their design approach for this large audience and its challenges.

Read Chris' biography.

Track 1 2:10 pm - 4:00 pm
2:10 pm - 2:30 pm "This Product Sucks!" A Sampler of Product Design Issues Darren Kall

Yes, the title of the talk is a real customer quotation Darren experienced first hand.

Products that suck steal money from customers' pockets, waste the time of users' lives, raise users' blood pressure, and inspire customers to doubt the designer's intelligence. Through a mix of embarrassing examples, Darren appeals to the audience to never again design a product that sucks.

The principles of why these products went wrong can apply to any product, industry, or technology, not just the Internet products that most of us work on. So, purposefully, none of the examples in the talk are apps or websites. Darren shares the product issue, the root cause, and what could have been done to prevent these products from sucking.

The examples will make you cringe, laugh, and shake your head. If you've ever designed a product that sucks, please sit up front so if Darren picks on your product he can point you out to the audience.

Read Darren's biography.

2:30 pm - 2:50 pm The Nature of Information Architecture Dan Klyn

Invented by a brick-and-mortar architect in Philadelphia in the 70s and then re-invented by librarians in the Midwest in the 90s, most people who're designing or responsible for the delivery of internet user experience are familiar with "information architecture" as a turn of phrase, or as a job title or project phase. But what IS information architecture? For those who call themselves information architects and perhaps more importantly for those who don't, what is the essence of IA? Why not just call it UX?

In this talk, Dan Klyn posits that even while we're not going to define the damn thing, we can look at the development of the idea of IA over time and see strong affinities and unbroken continuities in an among the past, present and leading-edge expressions of this thing called IA. Bonus: after identifying the nature of IA, you can know whether or not a particular piece of IA work is good or not.

Read Dan's biography.

2:50 pm - 3:10 pm Thinking with Your Hands Karl Fast

Your hands are more important than you think. In UX, we tend to view the hands as a way of expressing intentions: press a button; move the cursor; make some gesture. But research on how people use their hands has established a deep and complex relationship between our hands and our minds. In short, our hands help us think.

What does this mean for designing the next-generation of digital objects? Touch surfaces are now common, and the near-future will bring a swarm of new interactive technologies that are deeply dependent on our hands. To design for these technologies, we need an enhanced understanding of how we interact with the world around us.

In this presentation, I will explore current research on how people use their hands and what this means for the future of UX design. I will place special emphasis on three topics. First, the notion of the embodied mind, which argues that the boundary of our mind extends beyond the skull. Second, what we know about how people use their hands to interact with digital information, especially multitouch surfaces. Third, emerging concepts and principles for guiding the design of interactive digital objects that depend on the hands.

Read Karl's biography.

3:10 pm - 3:30 pm Destroying the Box: Experience Design Inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright Joe Sokohl

"When we said we wanted a house at Bear Creek," client Lillian Kaufmann said to Frank Lloyd Wright, "we didn't imagine you would build it ON the creek!"

To which Wright replied, "In time you'd grow tired of the sight of creek...but you'll never grow tired of the sound."

And he was right. Fallingwater stands as the most recognized house in architecture. yet it's not just a was a home. The Kaufmanns' loved it.

Similarly, owners of other Wright-designed buildings may have struggled with the architect, the implementation may have had flaws, the builders and other constructors may have gone behind Wright's back to fix perceived design flaws... but they all loved the buildings. The architect's vision remains inspiration to this day.

This presentation looks at three Wright landmarks— Fallingwater in Ohiopyle, the Pope-Leighy house in Alexandria, and Taliesin West in Phoenix— and the experience architecture inspiration they hold for experience designers.

I also believe that, through Wright's examples, we can learn elements that take our approaches to experience architecture to newly useful and inspiring levels for our clients and the users of our work.

During this presentation, we'll take a look at pictures and principles from these three sites. We will explore analogs to our practice through these elements:

  • Context: How does the site selection integrate with user needs and desires?
  • Clients: What do Wright's relationships with his clients teach us? Where did he innovate, and where did he fail?
  • Connection: How does the architect connect the lives of the clients with the results of the design? Expect an interactive, question-and-answer format. And lots of pictures.

Read Joe's biography.

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm Track 1 Q&A  
Track 2 2:10 pm - 4:00 pm
2:10 pm - 3:05 pm Discussion Panel:
Mobile UX is a Business Decision
Bill Litfin

Mobile User Experience Is A Business Decision: A panel discussion on the expanding role of mobile experience design within brands and enterprise.

Join a group of business and brand leaders as we discuss the role of experience design and quickening convergence to mobile. We'll discuss the role and background of User Experience as part of business success, understand the challenges that each are hoping to solve through the convergence happening at mobile, and get a sense of vision for the future when it comes to "portable experience design".

If you've ever wanted to know how and why some businesses and brands zig when you think they should have zagged, this is the panel for you. Our panelists bring experience ranging from Fortune 500 heft to cherished retail brands with expertise ranging from digital design to business strategy, so bring your questions, too— we'll end the panel with a lively Q&A.

Read Bill's biography.

3:05 pm - 4:00 pm Discussion Panel:
Leading a Successful UX Project
Derren Hermann & Christina York

This presentation is for any user experience specialists that has ever been put in the position of leading a UX effort. You will receive valuable tips and tricks on how to lead successful projects in a variety of settings and situations.

Areas covered will include:

  • How to get off to a good start
  • Creating a plan that works
  • Assembling a good team
  • Knowing who to keep happy and why
  • Managing the work and timelines
  • How to handle twists and turns in the project
  • Why communication is king

The presentation will also seek to dispel some common myths around this role.

So if you've been thinking that this is something that they didn't teach you in school and you haven't been able to find the manual on this....then this presentation is for you.

Read Derren's biography.

4:00 pm - 4:30 pm Break  
4:30 pm - 5:45 pm Keynote Jesse James Garrett

Whether you design websites or shopping malls, hospitals or mobile phones, you're designing for people, and people want to be engaged by the products and services in their lives. But human engagement comes in many different forms, and traditional design practices don't say much about creating engagement.

As design evolves toward delivering integrated experiences across media, designers need ways to understand modes of engagement and mechanisms for creating it. In this presentation, Jesse James Garrett looks at ways the designers of all kinds of products and services can maximize the human engagement of their work.

Read Jesse's biography.

5:45 pm - 6:00 pm Closing Remarks