MUXL Conference 2017 Summary

This past Friday, November 10th, MUXL was proud to present its third edition of the annual Mobile UX London Conference. This year’s event welcomed over 200 attendees to the distinguished De Vere West One venue in Oxford Circus for a day of compelling presentations, hands-on workshops and opportunities for strengthening the community of UX experts in the UK and beyond.

Our host Jiri Jerabek, Principal Interaction Designer at Intuit, kicked off the event by setting the tone for an exciting day ahead and introducing the keynote speakers, Bamba & Sukhada Jog, our special guests from the Airbnb’s HQ in Silicon Valley. Their exploration of the advantages and challenges their team encountered throughout the development of the mobile app for hosts using the holiday rental platform made their talk “Designing for the alleyway: Addressing the Discomfort of Travel” one of the immediate highlights of MUXL2017.

Following a short break for coffee, Stratis Valachis from Aviva, Shelbian Fung from Google and Hollie Lubbock from Fjord zeroed in on AI & Chatbots, one of the hot topics in the tech industry, and UX’s responsibility to help it enhance human-to-human interaction instead of disrupting it. Shelbian focused mainly on the particular case study of Google Allo and how chatbots should be seamlessly integrated into the habits that already define the chat medium. Both Stratis and Hollie offered practical ways of making this happen using the power of conversational interfaces through the use of various types of language (i.e text, voice, gestures) to simplify commands and making design decisions using user data.

Continuing the discussion on using datasets to inform the architecture and design of mobile UX, Lucy McCulloch from Education First, Jan Srutek from Trainline and Vikki Paterson from IBM’s Watson IoT took the stage to share how they manage to optimize this process within their respective organizations. Jan’s experience of using data to build the Trainline mobile app to help people find a seat on the train, had him pairing data scientists with designers to make sure their app was usable, scalable and useful in different contexts. In Lucy’s case, launching EF English Live, also entailed crossing linguistic boundaries and combining quantitative as well as qualitative insight into a diverse set of users to make optimal product design decisions. At Watson, Vikki makес use of IBM’s resources to design for the IoT ecosystem with the help of her team. Using data collected from the spectrum of individual habits, needs, and the way we use our devices, her work has the potential to impact the way we approach many aspects of daily life in the future.

Following a delicious and social lunch break at the De Vere restaurant, Christophe Mallet, Savraj Matharu and Lara Hanlon from IBM Design Thinking carried us forward into an afternoon that had us all considering the role of the UX designer as storyteller. With examples of virtual and augmented reality experiments, Christophe and Savraj told us more about how we can design for a truly holistic experience using VR and AR. The prospect of intensely affecting human behavior using these transformative technologies gives a lot of power to designers and the brands for which they work. Lara pointed out that Design Thinking principles could come in handy when 100+ year old tech companies (in her case) venture to design complex systems with many moving parts for users who are no longer just spectators.

As a supplement to the talks in the main space, huddle workshops on similar topics as were already part of the agenda, such as chatbots, conversational UI and inclusive design took place in parallel in the surrounding rooms. This allowed attendees to float in and out of any talks that interested them and sign up for the workshops for a deeper dive into a certain topic. In effect, tailoring the program of the event to their particular interests.

To top off the fruitful day, a series of 5 minute lightning talks before our closing speaker, gave community newcomers a stage to introduce their projects and share findings from their own endeavours in UX.

In closing, Julian Caraulani, Senior UX Designer at Samsung UK, unpacked his position that, when it comes to the excitement around IoT, there is much talk and little movement to justify it. Julian claims that the emerging economy of smart objects gives designers the opportunity to unlock latent behaviour and create a seamless experience by extracting value from connected everything. He warns against paralysis by analysis and shares some winning (and some not so winning) strategies he has observed firsthand during this work at Orange and, more recently, Samsung.

In addition to insight into the trends in modern mobile UX, some lucky attendees also left the venue with prizes from our sponsors.

When the MUXL Conference came to a close with some final remarks from our host, Jiri and the founder of MUXL, Naveed Ratansi, everyone gravitated towards the common areas to grab a drink and mingle with other attendees. In the crowd, we saw some familiar faces, some newcomers, speakers and attendees hashing out their opinions on the future of their industry and meaningful connections being forged. It was a truly electric atmosphere that carried on even after the event had concluded, into the evening.

In case you missed this year’s event, we will be carrying on the MUXL tradition again next year, growing the conference by taking our experience of what it means to run a truly successful event for our industry ever forward.

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