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About the user experience community in the Toledo region.

UX Tips Toledo region conference, April 24

I am organizing another Rosenfeld Summit virtual conference in the Toledo area. After doing a survey of local folks early in 2013 and finding that "virtual training" was the top need, I organized the 31 UX Tips virtual conference in May of 2013. I have also encouraged others to host Rosenfeld virtual events in the area. It is a good way to get the local community together, enjoy top-notch speakers, at a very low cost.

I still need sponsors for the April 24 event. Let me know if you are interested, or if you want to recommend a company for me to contact.

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UX Community Survey Results, Part 1

Back in March, I published a survey to get insights into what people in the Toledo region needed to help them create better user experiences. We have gotten 43 replies, so it seems like a good time to start analyzing the results and sharing them. This write-up will just cover the "needs" part: "ideas" results will come later. Just the data, no interpretation yet.

Before we start: who replied? I let people answer anonymously, and purposely did not ask "demographic" questions, preferring instead to keep the survey short. But here are some generic job titles of people who left their name and/or told me they answered:

  • Executives: CEO, President, Vice President, CIO
  • UX Practitioners: Web designer/developer, Usability analyst, Creative director, Interactive designer, UX designer
  • Other practitioners: Communications, Software developer, Application developer
  • Academia: Student, Instructor

Needs

We can rank each need by the number of times it was selected, out of 43, to get a sense of what people think are the most important answers to "What do you need to improve the user experience (UX) of the things you create?".

#Need
30Insights into innovative UI & interaction designs
29Knowledge of advanced UX techniques
27Case studies showing how others do UX
27Practice doing UX
25Training and formal education on how to do basic UX methods
19A UX "tribe" to hang out with, get support from
15More commitment from my clients to pay me for UX work
13Better tools for doing UX work
12Awareness and understanding of UX by others within my company
8UX talent to hire

Comments about the needs

A summary of what people typed in, edited and grouped.

What I need....

  • Inspiration and aspiration for my team
  • Real-world use cases and empirical data
  • User interface design guidelines and best practices
  • Good UX (for my app), without paying too much
  • UX value to business
  • More of ALL of this

How I want to address these needs....

  • Tell war stories with other veterans of UI
  • See UX teams in action
  • Network with people who need my services
  • Compare my practices to the work of others
  • Bounce idea off of others
  • Learn by doing

That is all for part 1. The "ideas" will be more complicated, and perhaps more interesting.

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Survey about UX Needs & Possible Ideas

If you are in the Toledo region and a practicing user experience professional, I want to hear from you. What do you need to do your job better?

If you are a business leader in the Toledo region who realizes the UX of your products & services is crucial to your business success, I want to hear from you. What does your company need?

If you are a student (at UT, BGSU, elsewhere around here) or someone who lives here and just wants to get started in UX, I want to hear from you. How would you like to begin your professional journey?

I created a survey to help compile information about needs and reactions to possible ideas for addressing those needs. It should only take 3 minutes to fill it out: I kept it pretty short.

Below are the important elements of the survey (for anyone who wants to peek ahead).

I have contacted many folks by email and already gotten a good response. More people are welcome to give their input: thus this post and related tweets, etc.

At some point, I will compile the data and share with the community (exactly when depends on how busy I am: this is fun but not the top thing on my to-do list). I will post something here and schedule a session at Seed Coworking, where we can discuss the results as a group. I would also like to get people to break into smaller teams to tackle specific needs or solutions.

Thanks in advance for your responses! If you want to be sure to catch the results, leave your email address at the end of the survey. And/or follow @UXToledoRegion.


We are collecting information about User Experience needs for the Toledo Region. We would also like your reaction to ideas to address these needs. Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey. It will help us plan local UX community activities. Thanks in advance!

NEEDS

What do you need to improve the user experience (UX) of the things you create? The things you are creating might be web sites, software products, paper brochures, smartphone apps, hardware, healthcare services, events. And more.

  • Practice doing UX
  • Awareness and understanding of UX by others within my company
  • Better tools for doing UX work
  • Insights into innovative UI & interaction designs
  • Knowledge of advanced UX techniques
  • More commitment from my clients to pay me for UX work
  • Training and formal education on how to do basic UX methods
  • A UX "tribe" to hang out with, get support from
  • Case studies showing how others do UX
  • UX talent to hire

IDEAS

What can we do to address your UX needs? Below are some of the ideas that have been suggested for the Toledo Region.

Scale: Bad idea | Good idea | Great idea, will help | Awesome idea, will pay $

  • Plan road trips to UX events in Detroit, Columbus and other nearby cities
  • Launch a UX book club
  • Set up a site where we can show off our UX capabilities
  • Schedule UX reviews so we can talk about UX and help improve local products and services
  • Collaborate with AIGA Toledo
  • Set up an online area for discussions (e.g., Google group)
  • Arrange online webinars and virtual training
  • Create hands-on training of UX methods
  • Rejuvenate Refresh Toledo
  • Create a marketplace for UX work (where clients and agencies can meet)
  • Organize a local conference about UX
  • Set up a mentoring program for students and others new to UX
  • Evangelize UX to local business leaders
  • Build a directory of UX people/companies in the region
  • Establish a local chapter of a professional organization (like IxDA or UXPA)
  • Create a Meetup group, schedule meetups
  • Add more UX events to the Toledo Web Professionals program
  • Set up an exchange program with other cities (to help us get up to speed faster)
  • Compile a list of classes to take (e.g., BGSU CS 3240)
  • Suggest the best national UX conferences to travel to
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Toledo Region UXPA Member Lunch

After helping the tech and startup community form in the Toledo region the last few years (see my summary of 2012 activity), it is time to focus on the user experience community.

In 2012, we attended a UX webinar as a group, did some card sorting, made sure designers participated in Startup Weekend Toledo. AIGA Toledo continued to serve professionals with a graphical design focus in innovative ways.

As a next step to kick off 2013, I am helping organize a local UXPA Member Lunch.

  • Join us for a lunch gathering of User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) members in the Toledo region. We are meeting at Dyers Family Restaurant, 200 Campbell Hill Road, Bowling Green, OH 43402, from 11:30am - 2pm on Wednesday, January 16, 2013.
  • People interested in meeting user experience professionals in the area and learning more about user experience & UXPA are welcome as well.
  • Everyone buys their own lunch as we meet each other and talk about user experience.
  • UXPA supports people who research, design, and evaluate the user experience of products and services. Current UXPA members can discuss how to get the most out of membership. Non-members can learn about UXPA and see if they want to join. See usabilityprofessionals.org for more information.
  • If this lunch generates enough interest, we will talk about forming an informal local group to help advance the UX community in the Toledo region.
  • RSVP if you are planning to join us, to make sure we have enough seats at the lunch table. Leave a comment below or email me at keith2013 at instone dot org.

At this point, there are only 4 people who are UXPA members in the Toledo region, with half of them living south of BG and half in the Toledo metro area (thus why we are meeting in the middle). But I know there are more people interested in UX and several design agencies that employ UX people. So I am hoping we can start to grow a larger community of user experience professionals in the region.

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Midwest UX, May 31

I am at the Midwest UX conference.

I am just hanging out today. Tomorrow I will be the emcee in the Gallery Theatre. (It is hard to find, so if you are going to a session there, be sure to follow the signs to the 2nd floor and then the additional signs to the theatre.) If you are here and want to find me, your best bet is to come to the theatre.

Here are the sessions in the theatre that I will be attending: (links to slide decks added as they are posted)

A great set of sessions! You can follow along with these sessions, and the rest of the conference, with the Twitter hashtag MWUX12. And since I cannot make it on Saturday, I will be following Day 2 virtually myself.

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Save $100 on Midwest UX conference registration

I am going to the 2012 Midwest UX conference (May 31 - June 2) in Columbus and I'd like others from the Toledo region to join me.

Last year was the first year for Midwest UX, and it was a great conference, with content rivaling events that are much farther away. If you are interested in user experience and in the Toledo region, I highly recommend you go to Midwest UX (and/or Internet User Experience, in Ann Arbor, slated for July 16-18 - follow @internetUX for info).

To encourage people from the region to attend, I am running a little contest. The winner gets $100 off their Midwest UX registration. To enter, send me an email (to midwestux at instone dot org) with why you think you should win, in 100 words or less. I will pick my favorite on April 15th and send you a promotional code so you can go off and register and save $100. $350 is already a bargain: $250 is a steal.

There is only 1 thing I ask of the winner: write up a summary of your experience at the conference on Saturday, June 2. I will be missing that day (my daughter's high school graduation is then). Post your summary publicly (anywhere you want) so that I can see some of what I missed, and others can benefit from my $100 contribution. You can write up more than just what you learned on Saturday, of course.

Contest only open to people who live in the Toledo region (loosely defined) and have not already registered for Midwest UX. You cannot use it for workshop registration, only a regular conference pass.

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Midwest UX presentations and recaps

Midwest UX was 3 weeks ago. I am still trying to review the presentations and the reports about the conference. My list....

Summaries, recaps and other things about the conference

Slides and presentation material

Let me know if I missed something.

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Midwest UX Conference

I will be at the Midwest User Experience conference on the weekend of April 9th (in downtown Columbus, Ohio). It is great to have another conference nearby that I can participate in without having to get on a plane. (Or miss any work - that sounds like a bug, not a feature.)

In just a few short months, the awesome team of mostly IxDA Columbus and COUPA volunteers have done an amazing job of getting fantastic keynotes, along with a great mix of local and "international" speakers for the rest of the program. I am helping them out, glad that I can contribute in my small way.

It is already sold out. Sorry if I sent you email in the past, got you excited about it, but you were not quick enough to get in. If you are attending from the Toledo region (or passing thru on your way from Ann Arbor, perhaps) then contact me to see if we can arrange a car pool.

If you are lucky enough to have a ticket, be sure to list yourself at Lanyard and/or Facebook so others know you are coming and you can connect with them.

There are still ways your company can be a Sponsor. So please consider that - it will be worth it.

I may organize a group excursion to the final Blue Jackets regular season home game (Saturday, April 9, 7pm). If you are interested in hanging out with your user experience colleagues at an NHL game, contact me.

Finally, if you really like the concept of a top-notch user experience conference here in this part of the world, I am interested in proposing Toledo as a future host city. Lots to figure out, but let me know if you want to try to make that happen.

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"Why We Buy, Why We Brand" summary

I attended "Why we buy, why we brand: a historical look at our relationship with brands" by Debbie Millman last night. Another great AIGA Toledo event. Glad I went, informative and inspirational talk, good to get out of the house and see some colleagues, good to be on the University of Toledo campus, and a great turn out on a Friday night.

Debbie is an "icon" in the design community, pun intended, with her books and radio show/podcast, and AIGA leadership. And of course, her work. Things we see every day, like a font for candy and wildly popular orange juice labels.

It was great to have her in town, as part of the Detroit/Toledo Design Re-View competition.

This talk (sometimes labeled the reverse, "Why we brand, why we buy") has been given before in Richmond, Harrisburg, Hartford, Providence, Baltimore, and Milwaukee, to list only a few. Alaska is a future stop. What a road show!

Here are the 2 best recaps of other versions of this talk (and then I do not have to repeat the details here):

You can also buy a Designcast of this talk from Print.

Now, my thoughts.

I think I was the only one tweeting the talk. I did not do many, but a few things jumped at me as Debbie was talking:

  • Big brain bang 50k years ago considered cultural universals. Making and marking things.
  • The brain likes to solve puzzles, creates different neural pathways when figuring out a logo
  • most popular brands now are those services that connect people. Brands as connectors, we are part of the pack

Debbie offered a free book to anyone in the audience who could name the first trademark. I knew it, since I was Googling things and drafting this blog entry while she was talking. I decided to stay quiet and see if anyone else knew it. Sorta feels like cheating when you use Google to win prizes.

The biggest chuckle from the crowd may have been when she showed the Evolution picture.

The history part was enjoyable. I actually enjoyed the "pre-history" - before 1875 - more.

I know that she had some quotes about the iPod, but she did not have any Apple-fan-girl stuff that I recall. That was a refreshing change.

She was honest that her presentation was kinda light on the "science" stuff - even saying that past audiences have told her that was the most boring part when she went more in depth on it. But that was the most interesting part to me. As such, I'd have to say her talk was more about the HOW WE BRAND and less on the WHY. It was still good, but it would have been better for me with more of the science and fewer examples. I realize I was not a typical audience member, tho. I will still have to rely on the Brain Lady as my source of helping me understand why people behave the way we do. (Sad that I will miss her next visit to the area, February 24, hosted by Michigan CHI.)

I think a few times she said "people buy the brand" which irks me sometimes. I feel like people buy products and services, influenced by the brand. And the brand influences them based on the sum of the experiences they have had with those products, services and the company overall. Something to debate over drinks.

As is often the case, I do not think of good questions until I am driving home. One would have been about "place branding". Her examples were almost all products, a few services, but I did not recall any branding examples centered on geographic areas. She touched on this in her pre-history (how flags have evolved to represent nations) but not later. It would be nice to find place branding examples and try to fit them into her 5 waves. I guess my question would have been if she has tried this and if not, does she think that place branding even fits into the waves. Some might say that place branding is "behind the times" of product branding, not as mature. I dunno. Place branding for the Toledo region is actively underway, so it would have been good to try to connect those dots.

Another good question might have been about the future. When does Wave 6 start and what will it be about? I like to put speakers on the spot and make them predict the future sometimes.

So, net, it was a good talk, glad I went, I hope others enjoy it too.

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Internet User Experience conference, July 26-28

I am doing some prep for this year's Internet User Experience conference. (6th year? This "regional" conference has stood the test of time and only gets better.) I plan on being there Monday-Wednesday, July 26-28. Exactly which sessions I will attend, when I arrive/drive home, and which sessions I skip to do some IBM work while I am there is TBD, but there are 2 things I am doing for sure (panels that I am on):

The research-practice interaction panel is good because it is forcing me to go back to the CHI and IAS work from this spring, and add in newer things like Don Norman's interactions article (that just arrived in paper form).

I will also try hard to get to these sessions:

The content strategy and agile UX sessions look good. I do not know a lot about eye-tracking, so I might hit one of those sessions. Many other sessions are interesting, but it will depend on my work schedule, or if I am in the middle of a good conversation in the hallway, etc. (One more: UPA's Usability Body of Knowledge (BoK) project, if I can stay that late on Wednesday.)

I hope you can make it to the conference as well! If you are a user experience professional in the Toledo/Detroit/Ann Arbor area, there is no excuse for missing this great event.

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