You might be wondering “What is UX camp and were you really camping, like nature camping?” The answer would be yes. Two of the Genuine UX team shared a rustic cabins on a beautiful lake in Maine with about 30 other UXers, strategists, designers, developers, and designavelopers. The event was organized by uxeast.org as a weekend of creative thinking, collaboration & exploration. This is what we learned.
1. Clean air and good conversation is inspiring.
The camp had a small amount of attendees so we got to know and talk to everyone. We enjoyed discussing trends and how other UXers approached solving problems. Being out in nature and talking about UX and why we love it re-charged our creative batteries.
2. Its ok to say “I don’t know.”
There was a lot of talk about the best way to run a team project, agile vs. waterfall. The focus was on making progress and aligning team members. We discussed how there is a lot of pressure for the UX team to know the right answer but that it is ok to say “I don’t know” and rely on your team to collaborate to find the best solution.
3. Check your assumptions and adapt best practices and “rules” to meet your project needs.
One of the talks from UX camp was from Jackson Wilkinson and it centered around “Breaking the Rules like a Pro.” There are tons of articles and best practices on the web UXers today. Jackson discussed how we need to look at data and best practices and customized this information to our users’ needs and our project’s business goals. When we are adaptive as UXers we are able to keep our main objectives at the forefront. For more information on this talk you can read the blog post “One Thing to Keep in Mind: Not Users. YOUR Users” by Jess Chow.
4. It is important to understand culture/nationality considerations that impact our users.
Maria Matveeva gave an interesting talk about using color to inform UX decision making. Internationalization is not just about supporting site content in different languages. Identifying the cultural meaning for colors and icons is an important part of creating a site that meets user needs and goals. Having a clear understanding of users will help to have a successful site experience.
5. Creativity happens outside our comfort zones.
We enjoyed the workshop lead by Roz Duffy and Jennifer Brook. In the workshop everyone partnered up and was given a topic to create a hypothesis for a wearable product solution. We practiced our research skills by doing “user interviews.” We then went on a nature walk to brainstorm and problem-solve, using found materials to make a wearable prototypes. Taking a hike around the beautiful lake in Maine allowed us to come up with creative solutions. There were no wrong answers and ideas started flowing organically. Taking some time away from our desks and encouraging an environment of freedom of expression is something we are definitely going to try to do more.
UX camp was a really fun event where we were inspired by everyone’s passion for UX design. We definitely earned our UX camp merit badges and we plan to go back next year.