UX Scotland is a Scotland-based but internationally-focused conference that brings together UX designers, service experience designers, and other interested ‘digital’ folk.
That broad audience meant an interesting mix of talks and workshops that crossed over between design, experience and utility.
The conference highlights for me were:
How to create a user-centered ‘digital ecosystem’ across devices. Soren Engelbrecht
Soren gave an insightful talk on creating a digital ecosystem at Maersk.
He’s put a lot of thought into device usage – it’s really not the case that *all* features and functions should be available on *all* devices.
His ‘Device Matrix’ framework makes clear what we, perhaps, intuitively know to be true: the smaller the screen, the simpler the task we’re trying to complete.
This being so, Soren implemented a ‘Mobile Where it Matters’ approach. Identifying key tasks to complete on mobile devices, and making it easy by design to complete these tasks.
Soren then gave an outline of Maersk’s ‘Suite of apps’, making the general point that apps need to perform a specific task, but that you can also go too far and expect people to download dozens of apps to implement a workflow (thanks Microsoft!).
Bridging the 3000-mile gap between the users and you. Sarah Morgan
Sarah spoke about the challenges of being based in Edinburgh while the vast majority of FanDuel’s users are in the US.
If the fundamental principle of good UX design is extensive user feedback, how can that distance be overcome?
First, internal stakeholders needed to be engaged. Sarah focused on ‘bribing’ people to turn up so that they could see for themselves the benefit of a testing programme.
One example was screen recording. The UX team recorded user experiences with the FanDuel app and made the results open and accessible.
The premise was that these design debriefs would keep internal stakeholders interested; they could see the insights generated and the direct impact on app development.
However, making an insights database is hard. What is an insight? How should the database be structured? These are clear challenges, as ‘interrogating’ the UX testing database isn’t top of an engineer’s to-do list. (There are no easy answers!).
Finally, Sarah introduced FanDuel’s diary study, which captured user habits over a longer period of time. It helped the team understand how people *really* used the app, which led to immediate design changes and a $20m boost in revenue. Huge win!
A New Information Architecture for NHS.UK. Sophie Dennis
Sophie spoke about a daunting challenge her team faced: Coming up with an information architecture suitable for the NHS website, which gets 50m visits a month.
The information needs to be presented in a way that makes sense given the mental model of the *patient* – the primary user of the website – rather than clinicians.
In practice, that meant that page structure was designed to allow patients to quickly evaluate whether they needed emergency care. For example, the ‘chest pain’ page provides emergency information at the top. The ‘stomach ache’ page provides more diagnostic information first.
The guiding principle of the new information architecture was that people shouldn’t need to understand the healthcare system to get the information they needed. The hard work should be done by the UX design.
Simplification of user journeys was paramount. Sophie and her team identified the top user queries and reorganised the site navigation to prioritise these information-seeking journeys.
The end result will be an easier to use website that, ultimately, will save lives. Not many UX projects can claim that!