Takeaways from LTUX London Lightning Talks

A few sweet gems from a great local event

I am standing and waiting for one of my favourite UX events which runs every year, here in London. The room is buzzing with friendly, excited chatter, and we’re seated in a bright common area of Moo’s swanky offices in Farringdon. It’s the Ladies that UX Lightning Talks Night.

Each lady has five minutes to introduce themselves, and win over the audience speaking about any topic they choose. Instead of a restricting speakers to a topical focus, LTUX structures the night around gaining experience in speaking to an audience. And what a friendly audience it is.

I ask a speaker if she’s excited. “I’m literally going to shit myself!” she exclaims, “I didn’t think it would be this many people.” I wish her luck and try to reassure her, “I’m sure it will be fine. It’s a very friendly audience!” It’s the truth. The audience that awaits the speakers is littered with smiles.

Sophie Exintaris talks about making a content inventory and prototyping iteratively not only helped her do UX, but it helped her design a great handbag and a few other life hacks. Like her, Jessica Lovegood, talks about how UX thinking is her way of having human empathy in ALL parts of her life. She urges the audience, “Let’s have a positive effect on people in our life, just as we do in our work — do user research in your friendships.”

Misha Patel walks through her research findings surrounding technology usage in exercise environment and how it either helps people distract themselves from the pain or it helps them focus in on the exactness of their reps.

At various moments I question how I can expand my methods and approach as a UXer. Rachel Jones discusses how we as UX designers are trained to find patterns of human behaviour that we can predict and design for; however, humans aren’t linear! And not every solution needs to be assigned a linear path. I wonder, “How can I facilitate the ‘human’ way my users live by allowing for the ‘non-linear’?” Rosie Isbell, of WolfOllins, causes me to rethink my go-to methods for collaboration: “Do I need to involve more artists, dancers or game designers in design studios?!”

Rosie, working the crowd

Some other inspiring topics include chatbots, de-politicised research methods, and “localisation around the world in 300 seconds”.

Elvia Vasconcelos — dazzles with the cutest sketch-note mobile phones with legs:

Designing conversational interfaces and chatbots involve slightly different process — where language, logic and content are a LOT more important in mapping interactions. Her team found that fast, dynamic, simple and helpful responses kept users most engaged.

A UX researcher, Suki, spoke about de-politicising user insights within businesses who are less accustomed to basing decisions off of users. One method she used was holding 30-min debrief sessions to build consensus among observers. She admitted it was a time-consuming, but rewardingly democratic way to make sense of raw feedback.

Elizabeth Chesters’ talk, “Localisation around the world in 300 seconds,” gives a whirlwind tour of designing for specific needs. Some thoughts include: how in the US you might need to design for the “treat yo’self” individualist in 6 time-zones, how designs are flipped horizontally in Egypt, and in India, forms are different because it’s really common to not have a surname.

UX performance consultant Sophie Freiermuth speaks all about career planning and trajectory in the field of UX. She works coaching teams, and she has a lot to say about making sense of UX roles. She encourages mid-level UX ladies to build “peaks of performance” in areas like “usability” or “research”. As more seasoned designers, one might specialise in a certain area, like “mobile”, “kiosk design” or “designing for voice.” She urges the young, eager audience to “pace yourself, and be curious as a junior”, but then to push yourself for more specific roles at more senior levels.

Over drinks and pizza, participants and audience members exchange comments and compliments, talking excitedly about getting each other hired. Topics tonight vary widely, but all talks being short and sweet, the energy of the room never dips for more than a moment. The best part about the night is that all thing shared are both practical and immediately applicable. I love this event, and hearing these intelligent ladies speak, and can’t wait for next year!

Upcoming events

We will celebrate Ladies that UX 3rd birthday and International Women’s Day screening of LTUX and Expose UX film with a panel of women in tech. #beboldforchange

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About Meg

Meg Porter is a London-based Lead UX Designer and mama. Check out more of her work on Medium.

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