Last week, the Futureheads UX team had the pleasure of attending UX London, the UK’s largest annual conference dedicated to user experience.

It’s difficult to pick out highlights from such an excellent event, but without further ado, here’s just a couple of the things that really stuck with me.

With great power, comes great responsibility

Erika Hall gave an inspiring talk about the disconnect between users and systems. She did a great of explaining the need for designers to consider the broader impact of their work on the environment, as well as immediate users.

Joe Macleod, who also recently spoke at our Leaders In Change event, shared his research on the value of ending things in the right way with your customers– and the hazards of getting this wrong.

These are complex issues without obvious answers. But, while there are certainly challenges ahead, it did cause me to reflect on how far UX has come. When I started out, many UXers were struggling to get a ‘seat at the table’ and make an impact. Eight years on, and the conversation has changed to focus on how to wield influence in the right way.

Human and machines

There was also a lot of discussion around Ai. Josh Clark talked about how machine learning has the power to unlock designers’ value and time, which can help to create new insights, patterns and connections.

Ai brings a new experience for many users, and new challenges to solve for many in digital, so I thought Emily Sappington’s talk about creating an MVI (Minimum Viable Intelligence) was a really useful approach.

Similarly, Sarah Doody led a great session on anticipatory design, talking about the huge potential, but also the potential problems that could arise from applying Ai in the wrong way.

Ai is a brave new world for everyone, but as long as the industry keeps sharing ideas, practices – and perhaps more importantly than anything else, their mistakes – Ai may well be able to empower the UX industry to even greater heights.

Getting ahead

Perhaps I’m biased, but it was great to see so many sessions focused on UX as a career, as well as the practice of UX.

For example, Jane Austin gave a great talk on how to progress within an in-house environment – full of great tips, wherever you are in your career.

UX as a discipline is reasonably mature now. This has brought with it a raft of specialisms which can all be a bit mystifying at times. So it was great to hear from Sarah Richards on the role of content design, and from Molly Nix on the value of being a generalist too.

As always, UX London was a calendar highlight for me. Andy, Alis and the rest of the Clearleft team have absolutely smashed it again, bringing together a great line up of speakers and workshops (and the food trucks weren’t bad either).

If you’d like to chat about the event, being a UX practitioner, or the practice of UX, I’m all ears. Come and say hello at chris@wearefutureheads.co.uk.

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