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Saying Goodbye to SXSW 2022

Sadly, SXSW 2022 is coming to an end this Sunday, and so the UX Connections team has returned back to London and Gothenburg from sunny Austin! During our incredible trip, we gained considerable knowledge, both industry-wise and skill-wise. So, we thought we would share with you just a few standout lessons from the talks we attended at the conference. We hope you will enjoy reading them as much as we did learning them!

Exhibition UX agency

Making memory your mission 

From “Forgettable, That’s What You Are (Until Now)”

One of the most interesting talks we attended was led by Dr Carmen Simon, and it was based on how to make your content more memorable to your audience. She explained how people are more forgettable than they are memorable, and that most fall into bad habits that breeds this ‘forget-ability’ within themselves and their content. She took just one hour to explain these habits, and why they are so ineffective when it comes to information recall, all backed up by scientific research. 

For example, one bad habit she mentioned was ‘the abuse of abstracts’ – using too many complex, unfamiliar ideas that your audience cannot immediately understand. However, if you can balance the abstract with concrete definitions, this can make your point more understandable, in terms already known to them. Building mental pictures with concrete elements can allow your audience to climb this ‘mental ladder’, which then allows them to move on to the abstract elements. You can help someone else’s brain see something new, by including something already learnt and processed. In the UX industry, it can be easy to use terms known by us, but not everyone. This talk was extremely useful in allowing us to understand how we can make more digestible, memorable content. 

Global Trends 2022

From “10 Non-Obvious Megatrends Shaping 2022 and Beyond”

Another impressive talk we attended was from Rohit Bhargava, the founder of The Non-Obvious Company, about the non-obvious trends shaping 2022. We knew it would be a great talk as soon as we saw the ginormous queue outside the venue, and we were right! During the hour sessions, we learnt from Rohit the way to spot trends when others miss them. He called it “the haystack method”, which requires people to read content that does not target them, since in order to see and forecast the upcoming trends, we must be willing to listen and step out of our world, our self-created comfort zone. 

There are different buzzwords springing out every day but we heard from Rohit 10 trends to watch out for 2022. As suggested these trends are non-obvious, so you might have noticed certain elements but never pointed them out or put them all together. Some trends we found interesting include ‘revivalism’, which reveals that people are nostalgic and affectionate with things in the past, and ‘flux commerce’, which indicates businesses have more potential than they thought to branch out or cross over. The talk prompted us to pay more attention to things around us and start considering how to capitalise on those trends!

Austin UX

Designing with inclusivity 

From “Equity by Design: Inclusive UX Research Practices”

This talk about inclusive UX research was definitely a favourite among our designers. Led by Molly Bloom, Inclusive Researcher at Cisco, Erica Ellis, Inclusive Design Lead at Uber, Nanako Era, Lead user researcher at AirBnB and Liza Meckler, Head of Research Operations at AirBnB, they dove deep into how to, practically, start incorporating inclusivity into UX designs.

During the talk we learned that without proactively working for inclusivity, UX research and design often exclude certain groups of people and can lead to discrimination, oppression and limitations. This is why it is so important to be aware of which groups of people you actually design for. A few tips they gave us was to actively start thinking about inclusion and challenge ones assumptions. You could ask yourselves for example: Which groups is this designed for? or Which groups are being excluded? Moreover, working with underrepresented groups to make sure to get the different perspectives, as well as recruit participants from these groups that otherwise would have been excluded is key to inclusive research practices. To learn more, read the practical guide published by these amazing women!


Making content emotional

From “Why Content Drives Customer Experience Innovation”

As a UX agency, we are interested in everything about experience. Therefore, the talk from Maria Genovese is definitely on this list. She approached the topic of experience from the angle of content. She emphasises that instead of product or service, content is the first contact many customers have with brands, and it is essential to make content emotional because emotions lead to engagement, as they create memories. Although the channels through which we communicate might change, the aim to spark emotional connection hasn’t changed. 

Being UX consultants, we completely agreed when she said ‘think of your content as a human experience’ – we know that every step of a user journey is important, even when it comes to our own clients, and our content must reflect that. We appreciated how much importance she put on understanding your audience, and how content is usually the first point of contact for a business and consumer. Her overall point of putting the audience, or the user, in a central position is echoed throughout our practices, and it was so insightful to see how this can be brought forward into the marketing process.  

Design for the future

From “Designing the future of everything”

Being a UX agency means that we have to stay curious and innovative to understand how design and user experience changes through time and what it can look like in the future. This is exactly the reason we decided to attend this talk, led by Mardis Bagley and Phnam Bagley from Nonfiction Design. Nonfiction design is an award winning agency with the goal to “turn science fiction into reality”, sounds interesting right?

Mardis and Phnam discussed how they look into the future and what would be needed to reach being healthier and live better lives. They focused on the big challenges we face and how they use design to try and solve these problems. One especially interesting example they presented was the ‘Trio wearable’, a bracelet that supports people with essential tremors by using electro stimulation adapted to each person’s needs. This helps people with essential tremors being able to do the tasks that previously were not an issue. This talk really proved to us that the future is closer than we think and as UX designers we can be a part of that!

Being in the industry where ever-changing technologies are key, us at UX Connections are fully aware of the value of keeping up to date with the constant innovation of the world, and the importance of learning. Attending events like SXSW is one of the many ways we learn as a team. So, although we are bidding farewell to SXSW 2022, this is not the end of our path to knowledge, and we will continue to share as we keep learning. See you at the next conference!

Ariel Hsu, Elin Forsslund and Maisie Carroll, Writer

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