UX Scotland 2019

This year I attended UX Scotland for the first time … and it was awesome! I can’t wait to apply to speak again next year. A huge thanks to the organising team who created a great event with a fantastic programme and fantastic food (which is equally important). There really was something for everyone and it’s been one of the best events I’ve attended in a long time. Catch up on the Twitter Feed to find out what went on.

A very different experience than I usually have at academic conferences though: academic conferences don’t have jigsaws.

The completed jigsaw showing a map of the world


On the first day, myself and Mike Crabb presented work from the University of Dundee on the different user centres that allow members of local communities to form a group of expert users who can contribute to teaching and research within the University. For many of these users, becoming a part of the user centre community has personal benefits that far outweigh the benefits to the other stakeholders. We discussed how these user centres are managed and ethically protected. If anyone wants to find out more, just get in touch and I can pass you onto the gatekeeper.

I also linked up with other folks to take part in a session on “Innovation for Geeks” with Joanne and Hannah from Orange Bus. If you are looking for ideas on how to make design sessions that bit more interesting, you should chat to them about using super heroes to create new ideas!

The team worked together using character wild cards to overcome challenges. For me, this was a really interesting way of moving a team past an existing challenge and not focussing on that alone. It’s something that I’ll definitely be adding into my teaching in some way. Computing students will love it! We even got to create our own challenge cards at the end. Unfortunately the cards aren’t available to purchase yet ☹️, but I hope that they will look into it in the future.


“Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others” – this is something that we hear all the time, if you travel by plane, but have you ever considered it in the context of your mental health? Mental health and wellbeing are important and too often overlooked. This talk focussed on how to ensure that people are aware of the mental and emotional toll that participant interaction can have, particularly when working with challenging groups and on challenging topics. In particular, there must be a balance between engagement and detachment. This detachment is important because it gives people time to reflect and to build up their energy again. For more info on the talk, see this full paper.

In the afternoon, I reflected on changes made for WCAG 2.1: 17 new success criteria addressing mobile accessibility, people with low vision and people with cognitive and learning disabilities. The variety of people attending the talk was so encouraging, with attendees in the audience involved in UX design, content design, development and testing. Looking to the future for WCAG 3.0 (Silver), reading the mailing list posts, it seems that the updated success criteria could focus on tasks rather than interaction with individual elements so it will be interesting to see how this changes the way that people focus on accessibility and UX.

The POUR acronym from the WCAG session


On the final day, I took part in my first ever Lean Coffee on hiring and retaining UX teams. It’s a method that I will definitely be using in the future, as I facilitate discussions and as. a way to structure meetings with my own research team. Everyone has a voice in deciding the agenda, which is a great way to share the responsibility and reflect the desires of the group. There was lots to discuss on the topic, and I followed up on this with different people around the topic of interviewing, and how that relates to the different types of companies that people work in – maturity, culture. etc. I just can’t believe the variety that exists within the industry: from a 30 minute face-to-face to a four hour epic.

Finally, the conference ended with a very appropriate Keynote entitled Ends: Why it is critical we balance the bias consumer lifecycle by Joe MacLeod. Thinking about off-boarding has been very insightful. His book is available “everywhere”.

The book cover of “Ends” by Joe MacLeod

I was tempted to buy the book on kindle for only £4, but then how do I off-board from the book? If I pay £12 for a paperback, I can off-board by passing it on and giving someone else the benefits. Thank goodness for Amazon prime.