Speaking at UX conferences & events

We’ve previously spoken about Nomensa’s involvement with UX Discuss. Since that post it’s continued to grow both online and within Nomensa with intriguing topics such as ‘The ethics of User Experience’ and ‘Getting the best out of user interviews’ generating lively discussions. As coordinators of several events, the topic ‘UX talking – speaking at conferences & events’ caught our eye. 

Figure 1: Tweet from the @uxdiscuss twitter account announcing the topic for that week

Planning a successful UX event is no mean feat. At Nomensa, it began as a gradual step into the world of conferences, dipping our toe in the pool and locally coordinating global events such as World IA Day (WIAD) and World Usability Day. Today we are now running our own events in both London and Bristol as well as still supporting and volunteering on great initiatives such as WIAD. 

It began as a simple idea which then developed into a clear vision to bring together leading figures in the UX industry to a platform where they could connect with a range of audiences for an event filled with knowledge sharing, collaboration and peer-to-peer networking. 

Over time this vision came to fruition and we’ve put together some brilliant events, meaning the next goal was to continue coordinating conferences and workshops at a consistently high standard. 

We’ve managed to achieve this with our event, Collaborate Bristol which has been running for three years as an independent event in celebration of World Usability Day. Plans for Collaborate 2015 are currently underway and we’re also planning for the next edition of our London based conference, Interact London after its successful debut last year. 

Figure 2: Images from Interact London 2014 

As always, we’re striving to build on the success of our previous events and make each one better than the last. One sure way to do this is by maintaining our connection with the UX community which is easily done with social media and the help of weekly Twitter chat, UX Discuss

Similar to UX events, Twitter chats are a brilliant platform for knowledge sharing and networking within the digital community. Both mediums enable discussions between a wide range of people in the UX, Design and IA industry inclusive of freelancers, project professionals, practitioners, key experts and even those who just have an interest in UX, design and IA and want a deeper insight.  

For that reason, this week’s UX Discuss topic in particular made our ears perk up as it was a great way to find out what people expect from these types of events. 

Yes, our post event surveys provide us with some great insights on how our conferences are received but we’re always keen to be a part of a bigger conversation with the chance of getting different opinions than we may have expected. 

The chat was a lively one propelled by three questions, one of which asked what the most and least favourite aspects of UX conference is. A popular response was the inclusion of real world examples in talks highlighting the effect and impact of UX in a company.

It was also interesting to see that when discussing the best things about conferences, most people spoke of the conference experience citing things such as seeing sketch notes, meeting other delegates, coming away from a conference feeling inspired and finding new resources. 

Figure 3: Tweet from the #UXDiscuss  twitter conversation in response to the question of a favourite aspect of UX related talks 

This doesn’t come as a surprise as peer to peer sharing and networking opportunities are always identified as one of the top reasons people attend Nomensa’s conferences. Plus, it’s easy to see why when these conferences are filled with like-minded people, who are keen to chat and exchange thoughts on the theories and concepts raised in the talks. 

Figure 4: Charles Martin’s tweet from Collaborate Bristol 2014 

It was agreed that although talks based on the speakers own experiences are welcome, no one enjoys talks which revolve around the speaker and their accomplishments, to the point that it comes off as bragging and the content strays away from the concepts and processes.  

Another important aspect of a conference is of course, the speaker line up which tends to be made up of notable industry leaders. Although the speakers are influential figures, delegates attend conferences not just to hear them speak but for a chance to interact with them, especially to discuss topics or theories mentioned in their talk. It was interesting that feeling able to engage with the speakers came up as an important element at a conference. 

It wasn’t surprising as this is something we think about when putting together our speaker line ups, but it definitely made us feel lucky that our previous speakers have been so friendly and eager to converse with delegates throughout the events. 

Figure 5: Speaker Nick Finck’s tweet from Collaborate Bristol 2014 

For us, the Twitter chat was a brilliant way to tune into what people are looking for in a conference. It’s also pretty cool that social media gives us a chance to virtually meet once a week and explore these topics online but of course, we still love to get together for a  face-to-face discussion every now and then, so hopefully we’ll bump into you at our next event!