November 10, 2023 UX Masterclass 2023 Zaragoza: Participation Report

UX Researcher
Ayumu Takeuchi

The UX Masterclass is an annual international conference organized by the UXalliance*, a global grouping of UX agencies based across 32 countries. Mitsue-Links, as the Japanese representative, joined the UXalliance in 2007 and, since then, we have presented at the UX Masterclass several times.

In cooperation with Torresburriel Estudio, this year's UX Masterclass was held in Zaragoza, Spain.

The theme of this year's event was “how leaders can design change in a complex world,” and both myself and Honoka, a colleague and fellow UX researcher, presented at the event. Our talk was titled “How leaders can better grasp future generations: A UX research perspective”.

A graphic recording of How leaders can better grasp future generations: A UX research perspective

The definition of leader can be interpreted in many ways. In a broad sense, this would include presidents/prime ministers, corporate executives, as well as popular YouTubers and other SNS influencers. For our presentation, we defined “Leaders” as service/product providers and then discussed how to better grasp the attitudes and values of both new and future generations - such as Z and alpha.

It is standard practice for both service providers and product makers go through the process of understanding and then creating for their target users. However, when targeting new generations with different outlooks and values from those of the “Leader”, the “Leader” often attempts to comprehend the generation by applying a “mold” that has been fostered based on their own experiences. However, frequently, this “mold” fails to capture the ideas and values such cohorts and can lead to incorrect and imperfect insights. To avoid such misunderstandings, we recommended employing UX research methods to capture users “as they are”, rather than seeking to place them into predetermined segments or categories.

As an example of how such “Leaders” can be misled we based examples on the theme of “emoi” – an informal Japanese term used by young people. The word, which has roots in the English-language word “emotional,” has a number of nuanced meanings that include “nostalgic, sorrowful, tasteful, impressive, captivating, and, emotional”. Our presentation received a great response – this was partly due to the interest in the word “emoi”. Furthermore, there were comments from fellow UX researchers who too shared similar notions about using molds to frame generations as well as the risks of “stereotypical” views.

The UX Masterclass stage
A Masterclass presentation

Below is an overview of speakers/presentations from other national representatives:

  • Lindsey DeWitt Prat and Bob Schumacher - from Bold Insight (USA) – “The Future of AI in UX: Insights from the Global Frontline.” Their talk provided insights into how UX researchers are turning to, and effectively using, generative AI.
  • Chin Chin Burkolter - from SomiaCX (Singapore, Indonesia) - “Complexity to Clarity: Navigating the Journey to Inclusive Digital Finance.” This talk focused on structural problems that prevent farmers from utilizing financial services and recommendations on how to resolve them.
  • Jan Panhoff - from Uintent (Germany) – “How quantitative and qualitative aspects can be included in benchmark evaluations, using an automobile survey as a case study”.
  • Helga Stegmann – from Mantaray (with offices in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa) – “Celebrating Differences, Igniting Change: The Power of Cultural Design in Solving our Biggest Challenges.” Her talk gave with an overview of African population trends, economy, and languages, as well as an overview of the current UI trends in smartphone transactions and financial services.

Participating in this Masterclass was very informative – it allowed me to better grasp the present circumstances and status within various countries as well as providing insights into overseas research approaches.

After the event formally closed, there were ample opportunities for researchers from different countries to speak. This proved a very meaningful opportunity for the exchanging of various opinions, informal advice giving and education, and contributed to achieving breakthrough ideas for better results. Going forward, through the continued exchange of opinions between such researchers, we’d like to further enhance our know-how and understanding of UX activities in various countries. Thank you for reading.

  • * The UXalliance was established in 2005 by leading UX companies from France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. As of October 2023, the alliance has 32 member countries. In addition to holding an annual UX Masterclass, the alliance is developing a collaborative framework through monthly knowledge-sharing events, implementing measures that facilitate collaboration on global UX surveys between countries, as well as performing activities to safeguard research quality.

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