July 26, 2019 Reporting on UXPA2019

Sayaka Kameyama
UX Researcher

From June 24 – 27, I attended the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. This event is an international UX conference held every year, attended by roughly 650 UX professionals from 17 countries.

During the conference, sessions on the theme of UX were held throughout each day in various locations throughout the venue.

There were many opportunities (breakfast, lunch, the reception party, etc.) provided to network with fellow UX specialists. I was able to exchange opinions on UX through lively discussion.

I attended all 17 sessions and gave a presentation of my own. Here I'll share some of the most memorable presentations.

Thinking about the behavior of the New generation

Digital natives, mostly born in the 2000s, who've used the Internet from the time they were born like it's always existed are called Generation Z. One particularly interesting presentation detailed the results of testing with Generation Z users in the US.

These users are constantly connected to the Internet via their mobile devices, and cleverly use different social media channels depending on the situation.

  • Instagram is their main tool. They have 2 or more accounts, dividing use between personal accounts (used for close friends and family) and official accounts (to grow their following for outward appearances)
  • They use Twitter for personal life updates, Facebook as a tool to keep in touch with their parents, and Snapchat for necessary communication among friends, such as confirming homework assignments and the logistics of meeting up.
  • They use suggested content on Instagram to fulfill their search needs, so they don't use search engines (they avoid/dislike Google)
  • They decide roughly where they want to travel using Instagram, and use Pinterest to collect real-time information about happenings in their current location that they use to aid in their decision making process.
  • They use social media apps to collect information, and mainly make payments via smartphone (A generation that asks what a purchase button or login/password is)

And so on.

Learning about the behavioral characteristics of the youngest generation made me wonder if the personas and user scenarios I use now are really accurate. This session made me feel the necessity of discussing a web strategy that keeps up with the dizzying change of digital behavior.

Making UX design a reality

“UX design” can be hard to make a reality even if the importance of “UX” is understood (this was also the theme of my presentation).

There was a session that detailed the efforts of problem solving using UX design.

Websites and apps are released through the joint effort of project managers and engineers. However, this often means that conversations start and end with business or technological points of view, leading to design changes that don't fix users' problems. Efforts are made to understand the user through UX research, but research results don't get used since they don't always mesh well with business and technological perspectives. As a result, UX design isn't achieved. The presenter introduced HCD agile methodology, which mixes human-centered design (HCD) and agile development, to help with this problem.

It's said that UX design is realized by balancing the mix of business, technology, and users. In order to achieve this ideal, project managers, engineers, and UX researchers – the core members of the team – should be involved in all processes. The presenter suggested that a new style of agile methodology, in which the core members understand each other and share knowledge among themselves from the start to the end of the project as they move forward, is necessary.

This was an eye-opening session that made me question what actions I should take as a UX researcher in future endeavors apart from understanding that a “user-first” attitude is not enough to make UX a reality.

Closing remarks

The program outline for UXPA2019 can be found on our UX Blog (in Japanese).

I plan to share what I learned in other sessions as well as my own presentation content in UX Blog posts in the near future, so if you're interested, please take a look.

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