UX Scotland 2023: my highlights

Kat Husbands
5 min readJun 18

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Another cracker of a conference 👌

Conference venue Dynamic Earth, resplendent below Salisbury Crags

I bloody love UX Scotland. What could beat 3 full days catching up with my local tribe, getting to know friendly UXers from all over the world, enjoying talks, workshops, yummy food and free massages, all in the gorgeous setting of Holyrood Park? It’s brilliant.

As in 2018 and 2019, I came home with my hands full of new tools, head full of ideas, and heart full of joy 🥰 Here are my scribbles on the stand-out moments. Each heading links to the programme listing for that session where you can find slide decks, resources and more info on the speakers.

New tools

Two sessions showed me the way forward on things I’d been struggling with lately.

Building & using a UX research prioritisation framework

🏆 The most actionable

At Emily Nicholsons hands-on workshop we got to try 2 different ways to prioritise incoming research requests. I’m currently supporting designers across 4 workstreams with completely separate user groups, so I can see these frameworks being useful in the near future!

Jobs to be done: turning insights in action

🏆 The biggest a-ha moment

My product team is looking to adopt the JTBD approach. None of us had tried it before and we were getting bogged down in job types and statement formats and weightings and semantics — I really couldn’t see where to focus. Thanks to Nicola Dunlop’s talk cutting right through that confusion, we’re now zeroing in on desired outcomes and powering ahead.

An overwhelmingly complex Jobs To Be Done canvas template, with nice clear hand-drawn circles highlighting ‘Core Functional Job’ and ‘Desired Outcomes’
The clouds parted for me on slide 32 🌞

Inspiring ideas

How to design the interfaces of the future with hands & gesture

🏆 The most brain-tingling

I’m a big fan of my virtual reality headset, especially games where I can ditch the controllers and just act naturally, so Matt Corrall’s talk on hand-tracking tech and touchless haptics really lit up my brain. And ooh the videos: so hypnotic…

This technology goes way beyond gaming and simulations, for example as a safer and cheaper way to train people to handle dangerous situations: with visceral immersion and easy resets, they can build up the emotional resilience and muscle memory they’ll need, without putting themselves in danger.

It was great to hear about the open design principles Matt’s company is developing for the field. I look forward to seeing these grow over the next few years.

5 ways to teach users what they can do in VR

A geography of time

🏆 The most thought provoking

While I try my best to be inclusive, I do tend to focus mainly on physical, neurological and socio-economic differences. Alberta Soranzo reminded me there’s a whole other layer of cultural differences — in particular the ways people from different cultures perceive time — and provided some really helpful spectrums and further reading.

A chart comparing Italian, US, UK and Japanese culture on various scales such as ‘leading’, with US being  the most egalitarian and Japan the most hierarchical; and ‘scheduling’, with Japan’s perception of time being the most linear and Italy the most flexible

Heart-warmers

I’ve mentioned the deep tribal joy I get from this conference, and I often credit my career and sanity to the support I’ve found in communities of practice. These have included workplace-based ones like Scottish Web Folk, IWMW and the UCD communities in government, and more informal ones like the UX Glasgow meet-up, which I love so much I became a co-host!

Three sessions at UX Scotland celebrated communities and offered invaluable ways to launch, grow and sustain them.

Community Power: How communities of practice can make your work and working life better

🏆 The most encouraging

Kara Kane’s opening keynote beautifully explained the value of formalised communities in the workplace. My main takeaway was that the only way to make them really successful is to make it someone’s job to nurture them.

This whole Twitter thread is fab, go read 👀

Building communities of practice

🏆 The chattiest

My UX Glasgow co-host Neil Scott and I enjoyed breaking out the stickies, sharpies, dots and shop bell to run this Lean Coffee discussion session. Fired up by the keynote, our lively participants brought along loads of great topic suggestions, questions and experience to share, and were a joy to facilitate 🙏

Interaction design (community) in Scottish Government

🏆 The most uplifting

Anusree Raju and Fraser Smith shared the story of this thriving community of which I was an ‘ally’ member for a while. I loved hearing about how it started and grew, and what they’ll be up to next.

Lightning talks

🏆 The most fun

BRAVO to everyone who made their public speaking debuts at this session: there were a lot of cold sweats at the start, but a lot more big grins at the end! I especially look forward to hearing more from Anna Chojnacka and Lewis Dorigo.

Still to see…

As always, there were some difficult choices to be made between simultaneous sessions, and between soldiering on or having a rest. Here are the ones I most regret missing.

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Kat Husbands

User researcher, content wrangler, UX Glasgow co-host, fishkeeper, AFOL