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UX Brighton 2010

Earlier this week I attended Brighton’s first ever usability conference, UX Brighton. The event was described as “giving wide exposure to some of the most recent captivating and provocative ideas on User Experience from all over the UK and Europe” and it didn’t disappoint.

The day boasted an impressive ten speakers and provided a wide range of ideas, opinions and insight into what some of the best minds in the business think about User Experience.

First up was Eric Reiss, one of the most influential figures in UX and Information Architecture. Eric talked us through his Web Dogma, a list of ten ‘rules’ for user experience. As you’d expect from an ex stage director, Eric’s talk was engaging throughout, and managed to be both entertaining and informative. I found myself nodding vigorously as he went through his list and the Q&A at the end provided some interesting debate.

Following Eric was Harry Brignull who spoke about Dark Patterns – the evil tricks that designers play to make people do things online. The way Harry approached the subject made it much more interesting than just a list of the tricks people use to get more money from users. It went into important details such as why designers might do this and also made some recommendations for what the UX community could do to try and prevent these.

After a quick break we had a talk from Julian Hirst from Electronic Ink about why UX practitioners should be involved as early as possible in the process, ideally before companies have (often wrongly) identified the ‘problem’. He was followed by Dr Jon Dodd how David Ogilvy’s approach is still a winner. Despite the fact that most of Ogilvy’s theories on advertising were developed over 50 years ago a lot of the principles remain the same today.

After lunch it was Graham McAllister’s turn to take the stage with his talk on user experience in Video games. I’d seen Graham talk about this before at a previous UX Brighton event and it was good to hear him expand on this and see how his methods had developed. It was also interesting to see that despite it being a huge industry the UX side of games testing remains relatively underfunded.

Jeroen van Geel then spoke about Product Personality and its importance in user experience. He encouraged people to be ‘UX Rockstars’ and to focus on creating *meaningful* experiences for the consumer. This talk struck me as a good way of showing the difference between usability and user experience. Have a look at Jeroen's presentationthe childish washer the happy website.

Finishing off the after-lunch session was Claire Rowland from Fjord London. Her talk was around how to encourage creativity in people. It looked into motivation and how many companies are still getting the basics wrong and not getting the best out of their more creative employees.

The final session of the day was kicked off by James Page and Sabrina Mach, from remot testing company Webnographer, talking about how the user’s context affects their behaviour. This included some examples showing where ‘lab’ tests had failed but tests undertaken in the user’s home environment had shown no such problems. This is because the stress and pressure often felt by users in more traditional lab facilities may cause them to do things differently to how they normally would. Environment, they argued, plays a large part in user experience.

The headline speaker for the conference was Rory Sutherland who is Vice-Chairman at Ogilvy Group UK. The title of the talk was Clocks and Clouds and looked into too mindsets of people, Clocks who have a very ridged idea on how things should work and Clouds who are more innovative and creative in their approach. His talk was both hilarious and thought-provoking and was the perfect way to wrap up a brilliant conference.

Big congratulations to Danny Hope and all the other people involved in making UX Brighton such an incredible community. I wonder when tickets go on sale for next year’s event...

About the author

Phil Jones

Hi, I'm the Director of Innovation and Projects at Wired Sussex, I deliver our portfolio of regional creative technology projects and support our innovation hub, the FuseBox.

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