Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Future student online experiences

Future student online experiences

Sharing the work of the Prospective Student Web Content Team

UX Scotland 2023: team reflections

From 7 to 9 June 2023 five members of our team attended the annual UX Scotland conference at Dynamic Earth. In this blog post we share our highlights and takeaways.

The conference programme and some of the slides are available on the conference website. 

UX Scotland 2023 website 

Lauren, Senior Content Designer 

Why I attended UX Scotland 

I got accepted to deliver my talk ‘I don’t know what I’m doing and that’s okay: lessons learned as a manager’ at UX Scotland. I had given this talk previously at two content conferences, but this was my first opportunity presenting it to a wider design audience and second time presenting it in person. 

I had never been to UX Scotland before, so I was also keen to check it out. 

My top three sessions 

Yippee IA – Information architecture for digital designers (Chris How) 

Chris’s workshop didn’t cover anything new to me as a content designer. Information architecture techniques are already part of my content toolkit. 

But I was curious to see how Chris approached explaining IA to non-specialists, and I really liked the activities he did to get people thinking about organising information. The first task he made us to was think of the worst ways to organise a music shop, with the idea being thinking of the worst ways to organise information can help you on your way to thinking of the best ways. 

The biggest takeaway from the workshop was when Chris said to treat IA like a product and not a project. This is such a great way to look at it because IA work is something often done part of a project, but like we talk about how content is never finished, neither is your IA. Reviewing it and evolving it needs to be part of your regular content management practice. 

Chris’s workshop details and slides 

The circle of life: lessons learned from killing services (Anne Dhir) 

Anne spoke about her experiences in bringing services to an end and what you need to consider in ending services. 

My biggest takeaway from this session was that it got me thinking about my own work in our degree finder project and what happens to our current degree finders once we move to the new system.  

I know those conversations will inevitably happen at some point, and Anne’s talk has given me some food for thought about what questions I need to ask and actions I need to think about when those discussions start. 

Anne’s talk details and slides 

Mind the gap – bringing user research and content design together (Flo Vincent and Pete Watson) 

I’m obviously incredibly biased in favouring a talk done by two members of our team, but Flo and Pete’s talk on collaborating in our degree finder project was a real conference stand-out. Their presentation had such great storytelling and humour in showing the failures and successes we’ve had in collaborating to design the new undergraduate programme content type. 

This was both their first conference presentation, and they absolutely knocked it out of the park, with the audience asking lots interesting questions afterwards. Especially as Flo’s manager, I enjoyed having another proud boss moment getting to see her conference debut, following Freya’s debut at ContentEd in November. 

Flo and Pete’s talk details and slides 

Pete, UX Specialist 

Why I attended UX Scotland 

I submitted a proposal to deliver a talk at this year’s conference which was accepted – ‘Mind the gap: bringing research and content design together.’ I delivered this talk with Flo because we wanted to demonstrate to the audience how we each approached the project we worked on based on each of our disciplines – user research and content design.  

The talk was well received and generated a lot of audience questions and follow-up from interested attendees. It was great to have the opportunity to talk to other people who were experiencing some of the things we talked about in their own work.  

I have since followed up in-person with someone working out of a small design agency in Edinburgh who wanted to get advice on design problems that they encountered in their own work. It was an interesting conversation for me to have as I got the opportunity to learn from this person how they approached similar design problems to me. We were able to talk through each of our areas of work and sharing our experiences helped us both get a better understanding of different ways in which we could approach them in the future.  

My takeaways 

Wishing there were more talks of failure 

I didn’t find the conference talks particularly useful in supporting me to work through some of the issues I find myself facing in my own work. Maybe this is due to where I am in my career and the experience that I have been developing over the last year or so. I often found the talks covered things that I already knew or were just too high level or general in nature to be useful.  

I feel that the conference could be significantly improved if they focused more on speakers who shared their practices more and the things that they find challenging. We are all making mistakes and learning as we go along; there is nothing more useful than listening to someone else describe how they made theirs and how it helped them improve their own skill set. 

Questionable research confession booth (Kathryn Davies) 

One talk I did enjoy though was ‘Questionable research confession booth.’ This was a talk delivered by Kathryn Davies from Cardiff university.  

She talked about her own experiences with conducting user research and the mistakes she has made and what she has learned from them. She covered issues from recruiting from the wrong user audience to poorly written research guides and the impact that can have on the insight which is obtained.  

I enjoyed this because she was reflecting on mistakes she has made and how they have helped her become a better researcher.  

Kathryn’s talk details and slides 

Freya, Content Designer 

Why I attended UX Scotland 

I wanted to attend after reading the UX Scotland’s schedule. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn from other UX professionals working outside of higher education. There were so many talks and workshops that I wanted to go to so I knew it would be worth attending.  

The last time I attended a conference, I was a speaker and so this time I was excited to experience the conference from the perspective of a delegate. Specifically, I wanted to learn how speakers present case studies and tell stories to communicate ideas with the audience.  

My top three sessions  

A masterclass in giving a presentation from Lewis Dorigo  

During the lightning talks session, we heard from Lewis who gave his first public speaking engagement. Everyone in our team agreed this was such a fantastic presentation, especially from a first-time speaker. 

Lewis shared he was nervous before he started his talk, and this vulnerability was really refreshing to see. What I liked most about this presentation is that he took the audience on a journey. He shared his passion for the game Dungeons and Dragons and talked about how playing the role of these characters has helped him build confidence in his career. I thought this was a really great example of compelling storytelling.  

Colour contrast & accessibility: Not as black and white as it seems by Roger Attrill 

I’ve always had an interest in colour contrast. I appreciate how important the use of colour is in UX design, and elsewhere, because poor use of colour can be harmful to users, for example those who experience colour blindness.  

Roger talked us through the different guidelines we can use when ensuring colour contrast is suitable for all users: WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.1 and APAC Contrast Calculator.  

WCAG website 

APAC Contrast Calculator 

I liked how Roger used the guidelines to show how a design could meet the correct colour contract ratio, but it could still be difficult for users to read. It was interesting to see how certain colour contrasts, like white text on a light blue background, do not meet the WCAG guidelines but it does meet the APCA guidelines.  

Roger suggests we can’t simply swap one set of guidelines for another. It’s not that simple. For instance, in our organisation, we need to abide by the WCAG guidelines when we create online content. But we can use APAC Contrast Calculator to help us to ensure that colour contrast is accessible to users in other ways. For example, we could use it to check presentation slides, internal documents or when working on digital whiteboards.  

Roger’s talk details and slides 

Inclusivity by default: creating experiences for everyone by Andy Dykes and Charlotte Cooper  

Andy and Charlotte’s talk was a great case study on how they’re making Tesco Bank more inclusive for its customers.  

They started with some data from the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) on ‘drivers of vulnerability’ which covers themes in health, life events, resilience and capability. According to the research 53% of adults in the UK show one or more of these in October 2020.  

I liked how Andy and Charlotte talked through their human-centred design process in detail. Specifically, they shared what they learned from their insights and what research tools they used.  

I found the archetypes tool particularly interesting as each archetype relates to these themes of vulnerability. An archetype profile can be used to show how a person might be thinking, their mental model and the actions they take when interacting with a product or service. After this talk, I’ve been reflecting more on how we can better understand user needs if we take these universal themes into consideration.  

Andy and Charlotte’s talk details and slides 

Heike, Content Designer 

Why I attended UX Scotland 

Last year I started volunteering at Software Accumen conferences held in Edinburgh. I attended the UX Scotland 2023 conference as a member of the event team. 

My top three sessions 

7 misconceptions about accessibility – Stéphanie Krus 

Stéphanie reviewed seven misconceptions to encourage attendees to engage with and to learn about accessibility. 

It was useful to hear that accessibility does not always need to be very technical, as issues can be as simple as missing alternative text for images or broken links and is broader than making content work with screen readers. The best approach appears to be to talk to people who have experience with the barriers. Training alone is not everything. Individuals can have more than one disability, and conditions might be experienced differently by those affected.  

The biggest takeaway for me was that there is not one solution for everybody but that we should plan for different formats and channels to allow users to choose what works best for them. 

Stéphanie’s talk details and slides 

Designing a high-performing and inclusive team- Heldiney Pereira 

Heldiney’s talk touched on the intersection of his experiences as Lead Product Designer for Monzo and as Director of a Samaritans branch. He was very open and honest about personal struggles he encountered. I found the mental health aspects of his presentation very inspiring and thought-provoking 

We can all encounter mental health issues at some point in our life. Change and moving priorities can be challenging or even frustrating. It is important that we embrace our feelings and create safe spaces by empowering others, being true to the way our mind naturally works, being transparent about our thinking and approach and being kind to ourselves and others. 

Heldiney’s talk details and slides 

Level up your design maturity – Lauren Fraser 

Lauren presented a couple of concepts for determining design maturity in an organisation, including what the steps and their characteristics look like from absent design maturity to being user-driven and Jared Spool’s path from the dark ages without UX design to infused UX design.  

Lauren did a group mapping exercise with us, where we scored design maturity based on different aspects related to people, practices and platforms. The exercise helps to not only assess the design maturity in our own workplaces but also to identify areas to work on to improve the design maturity. The blank template provided with the slides could come in handy to review and improve our content design processes going forward.  

Lauren’s talk details and slides 

Read about our experiences at other events 

Attending EduCamp, an unconference for higher education 

8 takeaways from Utterly Content 2023 

ContentEd 2022: team reflections 

4 replies to “UX Scotland 2023: team reflections”

  1. Niall Bradley says:

    Great blog but maybe needs a wee edit. ” I was curious to see how Christ approached explaining IA to non-specialists”

    1. Heike McIntosh says:

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention Niall. We have now corrected this.

  2. Niall Bradley says:

    That said, I really liked his presentation.

  3. Neil Allison says:

    When you’re dealing with really big, complex information architecture problems, sometimes a bit of divine inspiration is needed! 😀

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.