UXAustralia 2012 in Review


UX Australia  Audience day one

Going to UXAustralia is more that just another conference, it’s like coming home to old friends.  It’s a time when the UX community comes together for a brief 4 days (2 days of workshops, 2 days of the main conference).

For most of the year I don’t have a lot of contact with the main stay of the UX community on the east coast of Australia. You have to remember it’s like we are a separate country over here in the west.

This means these 4 days with UX people, is my reset and recharge point for the year.  I get to talk about issues, war stories, techniques, argue over concepts and just see colleagues face to face. Feed my brain on UX goodness that sometimes can be otherwise lacking.

This is something I suspect people on the east coast take for granted.

What’s so amazing about UXAustralia is the wide range of topics and speakers that are present.  Speakers from within the UX space to those doing a UX like role under a moniker that’s a little strategic or a little more design.   After all design influences everything.

Themes and Enlightenment

Every year at UXAustralia there are themes from the community, these aren’t designed by intent, they just happen. A kind of wisdom of the crowds thing.  Reflecting on the core of what people have been thinking about over the last twelve months.

In 2011 at UXAustralia it was clearly mobile, and contextual UX.

This year it’s looking at the bigger picture, the humanity of what we do, questioning why (hat tip Bill DeRouchey) remembering that we are just human (hat tip Stephen Cox) and not prefect (hat tip Ruth Ellison) and that we really should just try are push things, innovate, disrupt and take those world changing steps (hat tip Steve Baty). But still remembering the little things, as these aspects are central to good design (hat tip Harriet Wakelam).

It was wonderful to see the attendees, who were new to UX, suddenly have that classic light bulb UX moment.  You know the awakening moment when you know you have just been shown a better way.

That moment of pure clarity occurring with these people was just magical to see.

This was especially true of the developers who thought they were across the subject. I could see them slowly discovering that they only had a few pieces of a much bigger puzzle, that was refreshing to see.

Adhoc Research

Lisa Herrod’s talk on Gatekeepers was inspirational if nothing else than to remind us that sometimes we just have to research with what we have at hand, and make do.  Lisa however took things beyond this, stressing the moral issues and the importance of community gatekeepers.    Makes me wonder, does the UX community have gatekeepers as well.

Design Space

An interesting aspect was the discussion over a number of talks on the influence of the environmental space on design, be that from using war rooms, design walls (in all their flavours) or the controlled corporate cubical city. The outcomes of these talks confirmed what I have always suspected, good design only happens when there is equal parts separation and collaboration.

Lean, Agile and UX

There were also a good number of case studies on the use of Lean, Agile and UX, showing that these approaches can live and work happy together. It seems that maybe the naysayers from some developer communities may just be misguided.

Language of Discovery

You know when you come out of a talk and your mind is just reeling from the topic you have just heard.

Well that was what the talk by Joe Lamantia was like. It was amazing his process on development of “Task Patterns” was truly inspiring.  Just looking over my sketchnote and my head is still spinning!


After all the work we do from a technical view, its all just comes down to people. After all people are the most important aspect of our work, not some UI or process.

I will be talking more about UXAustralia 2012 in the coming weeks, in the meantime a few links of more awesomeness:

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