So the third UX Bristol has come and gone last Friday in a blur of workshops, thought pieces and cheesy cider goodness. For those of you who don’t know, UX Bristol is the premier South West UX conference organised by the Bristol Usability Group. It is a not-for-profit event whose funds are used to feed back into the local UX community to help pay for initiatives and guest speaker talks throughout the year. This year was unusual as it was the first time I wasn’t speaking so I was able to approach the day with an open mind, unencumbered by the fear of peer-to-peer presentation. Feeling relaxed and ready to learn I waltzed into the MShed, grabbed a coffee and checked out the line-up.
The conference has always had a quality and diverse range of speakers but this year it really seemed to have pushed the boundaries. In the first two morning sessions alone I could have attended content strategy for cyclists, positive psychology (everyone came out smiling from that one) or had a giant group game of rock, paper, scissors. My personal highlight though was saved for the final round of hands on workshops where Sophie Dennis (@sophiedennis) presented her excellent talk on “Getting UX Done”. Sophie discussed the use of the Kano model to move away from thinking about Minimal Viable Products (MVP) and start thinking about Minimal Viable Experiences (MVE). Her slides are on Slideshare and I recommend them to anyone who has been working in Lean UX / Agile teams and the issues that you often encounter. The afternoon of UX Bristol 2013 had a different format that revolved around a series of short talks interspersed with regular breaks to consume more scones, cheese and cider (I should point out that no cider was consumed before 15:45 and all UX practitioners were very well behaved until 17:01). At this point I should tip my hat to the organisers for the inspired move to split the afternoon into short invited speaker slots. It meant that a much wider range of content could be covered compared to the usual conference topics. We had everything from the impact of digital on the design of car interfaces through to the future of UX, neuroasthetics and officially “the worst lightning talk in history”. From the afternoon talks (of which there were about 9 or 10), a couple of standouts were Oli Shaw’s (@olishaw) excellent “Launching Probes and Trojan Mice” as well as the fantastic, internet of things, “Hello Lamppost” from Clare Reddington (@clarered). The day concluded as all UX Bristol’s do with drinks on the sun drenched balcony (and more cheese). It is a testament to UX Bristol that despite only going three years; I have come to view it as a “must have” highlight of the conference calendar. It is an opportunity not just to meet and greet but to ask the questions in UX that we often don’t get to do at other conferences. Its ethos of hands on learning coupled with diversifying disciplines and topics means there is always something for everyone. If you are looking for a practical, challenging and different conference to spend your training budgets on next year then you could do a lot worse than turn your head west to the vibrant UX scene of Brunel country rather than the big smoke of London. Our cider is better too. Check out the Eventifier page.