2010 UX Web Summit Reflections

I was recently lucky enough to attend the 2010 UX Web Summit at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor. From Facebook, to Yahoo, to the person who literally wrote the book on card sorting, the list of speakers was a veritable who’s who of UX professionals.

The day started with a joint presentation on “the first 15 minutes”  by Daniel Burka, Director of Design for Tiny Speck, and Rob Goodlatte, from the Facebook UX team. Next up was M. Jackson Wilkinson of LinkedIn, with a presentation on the seven core principles of product strategy for UX designers.

This discussion moved into a presentation on remote user testing by Juliette Melton of Deluxify. The morning session ended with a presentation on sustainable UX by Nick Finck of Blue Flavor.

After a break for lunch, the afternoon session started off with a presentation on card sorting by Donna Spencer, who wrote the book on the subject.

Next was a joint presentation on mobile web design by Jenifer Hanen, mobile web designer and developer, and Cindy Li of Yahoo. Last, but certainly not the least, was a presentation on practical prototyping by Sidebar Creative’s Dan Rubin.

For the sake of time and space (I took nine pages of notes, single-spaced), I won’t go into detail for all of the presentations. Instead, I’ll give you three things that I found incredibly helpful:

  1. Rob Goodlatte told a short story about a user test that essentially changed the design of Facebook’s sign-up process. Watching a participant struggle in a user test brought the Facebook UX team to their “AHa!” moment. Facebook is about connecting users to people in their lives. Period. This realization lead to a significant change in the design of Facebook’s sign-up process.
  2. M. Jackson Wilkinson’s seventh core principle regarding product strategy is to “sweat the important details”. If nothing else, take one part of your product and make it seem like magic (make it so easy and useful that users won’t know how you did it). A well-designed and usable product nurtures and develops trust.
  3. Dan Rubin’s explanation of his prototyping process on a recent project brought up an important point about users and their tasks. When designing or redesigning a website, clarity must be paramount. It is more important than anything else that users are able to find a clear path to accomplish their task.Something that goes hand-in-hand with this is the implementation of Inherent Value tests. Find out what users love so that you can protect it. Don’t destroy something that works because it seems old. “Familiar” is not synonymous with “old”. Keep the things that users like. They’ll be happier and it will make less work for you in the long run.

So here they are, three of my favorite concepts. Of course, there were many many more. Every single speaker had amazing insight (and some very quotable phrases).

I look forward to another UX Web Summit in hopeful anticipation. Here’s to another fantastic Web Summit with great conversation and, hopefully, pants!

Of course, this year’s summit would not have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors. A big thank you to all of you for making this happen! Thank you,of course, to all of the speakers! Also, a big thank you to  Deborah Edwards-Onoro and Environments For Humans for making this available to those of us in Ann Arbor!