By John Jung
The streets curve in Sheffield in a way they never curve in Chicago, and the entire time I was there I was very aware of how I go about wayfinding and how I orient myself in an unfamiliar space. I think it's a good frame of mind for a UX conference. Considering the theme of this year's UXLibs conference, inclusivity, I was also often struck by small interactions, like how I wait in line for something like a cup of coffee. Since the conference draws attendees from many countries there were lots of opportunities to compare perspectives. A lot of us were travelers.
The social aspect of the conference was more important to me than normal since I was giving a workshop and would miss the workshops given by others. Bryony Ramsden gave a workshop on coding and analyzing quantitative data. Eva Jirjahlke’s workshop was about framing problems—making sure you’re solving “the right problem”, and rapidly prototyping solutions. Carl Barrow introduced diary studies and cognitive maps as a way to understand users as they interact with physical and digital aspects of libraries. And Shelley Gullikson talked about useful friction in UX design and user research. My own workshop was on speculative and critical design.
Keynote presentations were thought-provoking, and they stuck with me: Sara Lerén, Design Director at In Use, talked about inclusivity from a cognitive perspective. Christian Lauersen from the Royal Danish Library talked about the challenges of creating an inclusive workplace and an inclusive space for patrons. Dr. Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Literature at York St. John University, talked about inclusivity and race, and Dr. Kit Heyam, a transgender awareness trainer, gave a presentation to help conference attendees build awareness around trans issues.
I can highly recommend next year’s conference, which was just announced via Twitter (@UXLibs), to any UX practitioners in libraries. For a recap of this year’s conference in the presenters' own words (which will inevitably include things that I missed) the User Experience in Libraries 2018 Yearbook will be published later this year, and it will include write-ups of all of these presentations and more. Please consider ordering a copy.