This post was contributed by guest author Josie Scott. Josie is a User Experience Design Researcher at Synchrony Financial who attended last month’s User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) 2015 conference.
I was ecstatic to attend UXPA 2015, held June 22 through 25 at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, in beautiful Coronado, California. I needed to catch up on digital accessibility and, with luck, see a few friends. The conference did not disappoint.
The conference theme this year was “Simplicity” but after attending, my personal theme recalls Scott Bakula’s character, Dr. Sam Beckett, from the old TV show “Quantum Leap.” Every episode, Dr. Beckett would find himself in a new situation, and he would repeat the same phrase: “Oh, boy!”
I realized as I attended these sessions that we are looking at another quantum leap in user experience. Oh, boy!
Rajesh Kalidindi, Design Researcher and Accessibility Lead at Microsoft, was slated to lead an accessibility workshop. It was canceled, so I charmed Rajesh into giving me a one-on-one. Throughout the conference, sessions on accessibility and other topics grabbed our attention.
Here are some key insights from them:
- Last year was a banner year for the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) consent agreements with consumer-facing digital properties. In many cases, the DoJ required them to prove that they were more than merely compliant with a given set of guidelines. The DoJ required them to prove that real persons with disabilities could actually use their products, via usability testing. Some agreeements covered mobile platforms as well as desktop. This is expected to become a trend.
- Rumor has it that Section 508, the Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is being rewritten to meet and mirror the more platform-independent Web Content Accessibility 2.0 guidelines. (Section 508 Refresh News)
- The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 set out levels for successful conformance for accessibility. The most recent and highest level is AAA, though most sites are working toward AA level presently. For some sites, AA compliance is proving a high bar to meet. However, many of the AAA guidelines relate to universal usability. A well-designed digital property that uses user-friendly design principles won’t have as far to go to meet these criteria. It isn’t clear when AAA will be recommended, as some of the guidelines are difficult to implement.
- The trend toward hyper-personalization is upon us. Every digital property will soon aim content tailored for each user, or at least members of specific groups. The implication for data-driven analysis is huge. Even if you are a passionate qualitative UX/Design researcher, it is time to turn an eye toward testing and observation with bigger data sets. Data analysts will need to help us craft our segments, and we will need to pivot quickly on content-based A/B tests, to ensure the right information is provided to the right customer.
- “Content strategist” will also become a critical role, as all of this tailored content will require a shepherd to keep them from going astray.
- Wearables are here, Dick Tracy fans! Make sure you’re ready to design for them, research with them and understand how they work in your user’s world.
- This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient was Chauncey Wilson. Chauncey Wilson is a User Experience Architect at Autodesk, Inc., and Adjunct Lecturer in the Human Factors and Information Design Program at Bentley University. Chauncey has spent over 30 years as a leading usability pro, manager, lab director, and mentor. Michiganders may salute him for two reasons: 1) he was a key advisor in the development of TechSmith’s Morae, and 2) he architected the Michigan State University Usability and Accessibility Lab in East Lansing–one of the best facilities I’ve ever seen.
- The term “Slide Snapping” was coined by author Steve Krug to name what we live tweeters do, snapping photos of presenter slides, and posting them on Twitter. (My feed is @josies and tweets from UXPA 2015 use the hashtag #uxpa2015.)
- UXPA remains one of the best, most generous and supportive groups for professionals. I did indeed see some old friends, had a roomful of folks turn around in my direction at the mention of Morae for remote research, and I met some awesome new friends as well. It’s a privilege to work with these colleagues.
- The location of the conference, Loews Coronado Bay Resort, near San Diego, was lovely, with great food and great access to beaches and water facilities. Really, for me, this was a great event. Next year: Seattle.
Photos from UXPA 2015
Sunset from Silver Strand Beach, just outside of Loews Coronado Bay Resort
Loews Coronado Bay Resort