First time attending the UXLibs conference and it was, quite simply, phenomenal! I've heard so much about the previous conferences (everyone seems to come away completed exhausted and inspired) but I've never been able to attend myself until this summer. Turns out, it really is exhausting and inspiring...and so much more.
We've been busy doing UX activities at York for the last two years and have written various blog posts about our work. We've tried a range of techniques including love-break up letters, cognitive mapping and semi-structured interviews, but what struck me at the conference was how much more there is to learn and put into practice. People came to the conference with lots of new ideas and their experiences of what works (and sometimes what doesn't work, which is always interesting to hear too). The conference is hugely international, with the Scandinavians leading the way on a lot of UX innovation, and it was fascinating to learn more about the reach of UX in libraries across the globe.
There were some key take-home messages:
- The importance of being able to articulate what UX actually is in a succinct and meaningful way to get engagement from your institution: rich and deeper knowledge of user experience (Andy Priestner).
- UX works well when you get everyone involved, not just one or two individuals in an organisation. How can we democratise UX and truly empower teams?
- We need to understand that the services we offer in our libraries reflect our core values. When we build things, we want them to be expressions of US, of our values. Our expertise, our service ethic and our values remain our greatest strength.
- Ethical design matters hugely: how will the objects that you design affect your users? When we create products and services, we need to really care about who is actually going to be using those products and services.
- Never make assumptions about how your customers use your services!
And some things that we would definitely like to consider taking forward at York:
- UX meets information literacy: getting students to use capture technology to record themselves using the library catalogue to find resources for a specific assignment. They don't use the catalogue in the way that you expect them to - at all!
- Idea originally from Manchester: "If students did libraries..." what changes would they make to improve the library experience?
- Visitor and resident mapping exercise to understand use of, and engagement with, digital tools.
- Design Think: how can we introduce new design thinking methodologies into our planning processes and practices?
- Creating effective personas that take the data about our users, humanise it and communicate patterns of behaviour to other people, while still reflecting the complexity of users.
So, there is a lot to think about and trial out over the coming year, and I'm really excited about the ongoing opportunities that UX presents to really understand and improve the user experience for all our users at York.
For my part, I gave a presentation about the Understanding Academics project that we have been doing over the past eighteen months, focussing on how we managed all the data associated with such a large-scale project. We're nearing the end of that project and will be posting our final conclusions and next steps shortly. It's just one of many, many UX projects taking place globally and I'm grateful to UXLibs for bringing some of these together and allowing us all to learn from each other. Here's to UXLibs IV...