On November 9, we hosted our seventh World Usability Day Leipzig. Under this year's motto "Collaboration & Cooperation", our top-class speakers spoke in seven keynotes and two workshops about topics that move them and the UX world. We have collected this knowledge and will present a compact summary in a two-part series..
The UX-competent organisation
Dominique Winter (Produktwerker) kicked things off with his keynote "The UX-competent organization". He focused primarily on how an organization can succeed in improving its UX competence and thus create positive user experiences. In his research, Dominique spoke to managers with relevant UX experience and identified five fields of action: Perception, Individual, Processes, Culture and Resources. These fields of action do not act independently of each other, but form a reciprocal system.
But before improvements can be made, the status quo of the organization must first be established. Dominique recommended using the UEQ-S to measure this. It is a short version of the UEQ+ to determine pragmatic and hedonic quality. If an organization knows where it stands, it can think about improving. Evaluation takes place in three phases: Planning, implementation and utilization. In order to bring about sustainable change, it is always necessary to evaluate one's own decisions and results. However, the process is far from complete after the utilization phase and is in a constant feedback loop. As a tip for improving organizational UX competence, Dominique suggested not only to conduct internal workshops with representative members, but also to look at how others have done it.
Change takes a lot of time and remains a challenge. According to Dominique, if an organization wants to improve its UX competence, development at all levels is the best way to achieve this. A UX pilot project that demonstrates the use of UX methodology through its implementation is suitable for convincing promoters and sponsors.
UX strategy: establishing UX sustainably in the company - three top tips for more user involvement
Many companies think: everyone is doing UX, we want to do it too. But how can a sustainable UX strategy be established in a company? In their presentation, Christin Hermann and Michelle Greisner (Userlutions) identified user involvement as the decisive factor and provided us with three top tips for increasing it.
Their first tip was all about communication. Since UX and product teams speak different languages, a solid knowledge of UX methodology alone is not enough to establish UX in the company. It takes a lot of social skills to get the necessary budget and support for change. Employees from the UX team must therefore also speak the language of the product teams. To do this, Michelle and Christin recommended conducting user research with the stakeholders. Many things, such as needs, limitations and processes, are already apparent in day-to-day work, and it is usually sufficient to evaluate and iterate them.
The next tip Christin and Michelle gave us was "Showing Up". To create awareness for UX in the company, it is important to take part in various meetings and gatherings (Teamday, Daily, etc.) The key is to bring something to the table to convince the other teams. Crisp one-pagers or highlight videos in which real people act are particularly suitable for this. It is also advisable to create a portfolio or a method kit in the language of the users. For the other teams, it is also particularly relevant to know how much time and budget the project will take.
The last tip they had for us was about KPIs. In order to anchor UX sustainably throughout the company, it is particularly important to know the general corporate goals and to look at them from a UX perspective. Everyone involved must realize that UX also contributes to and influences these corporate goals. It is also helpful to track internal UX KPIs (e.g. regular testing of designs, evaluations of tools or the calculation of ROI for a specific feature).
UX and scrum in harmony
Florian Holzhäuser (IT Sonix) gave us revealing insights into his experience when it comes to the interaction between UX and Scrum. To illustrate this, he brought along four scenarios that present UX designers with different challenges in their work with development teams and how these can be addressed.
In the first scenario, there is hardly any budget available and the project has little user interaction. In addition to the low budget, unclear expectations and possible applications pose a particular problem here. This can be remedied by UX designers taking on the role of "preacher". For UX designers, this project is primarily about creating an awareness of user-centered work, e.g. by training product owners and teams or providing input on concepts, research and design.
Scenario two is similar, but also has the difficulty of a high workload in addition to the low budget. UX designers in such projects are often under time pressure and have to invest many hours in communication. The balancing act between coordination and actual work often leads to tension. According to Florian, anyone who finds themselves in such a project must become a "mentor". This role often requires experienced UX designers as well as regular collaboration with the product owner and the use of tools.
The third scenario offers sufficient budget and also has no dependencies. Transparency is particularly important here, as is integration into the sprint rhythm. Collaboration with the users must be planned in order to be able to use predefined timeslots. Due to the lack of dependencies, the connection with the rest of the UXD team can be lost. In order to be successful as a UX designer in projects of this kind, Florian recommends taking on the role of "doer". You become an integral part of the development team and the sprint events, make UX tasks visible in the development backlog and establish a UX review in the spirit of DoD.
In the final scenario, the project has sufficient budget but is dependent on other projects. Due to the increasing product complexity, this project poses the greatest challenge. The dependencies on other products or services increase the communication effort and curtail decision-making ability. If you want to successfully push through UX issues here, you have to try to be present across the entire company. Florian has established the term "daywalker" for this role. The daywalker moves easily between the areas of UX and software development. He works closely with software architects, uses synergies and generally implements a design system.
Oops! ... accidentally made new work
One buzzword in particular is currently on everyone's lips, not least due to advancing digitalization. We are talking about New Work. In his presentation, Benjamin Rogg (New Work Institute) not only cleared up any confusion about the diverse definition of the term, but also provided a few practical examples of integrating New Work.
In Benjamin's view, New Work is above all psychological empowerment. Consequently, all factors that increase this are New Work measures. These include: Competence, meaningfulness, self-determination and influence. These have a direct impact on job satisfaction, commitment, the desire to change jobs and stress. KPIs help to recognize which measures influence which effect.
Not all of the upheavals brought about by digitalization necessarily have a positive impact on working conditions. In order to successfully establish New Work, it is important to look at the situation in detail.
One of Benjamin’s examples to promote New Work in the workplace is the DIN standard: Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs). This contains many proven findings that improve the working conditions of individual employees. Even small measures such as error messages that explain why something is not working can achieve a lot. This standard should always be kept in mind during the design process and Benjamin therefore recommends that companies conduct entire ergonomics sprints or workshops. In the best-case scenario, requirements can be derived from these, which can later be found in backlog stories or even acceptance criteria.
In conclusion, Benjamin gave us the following thoughts to take away with us. The term New Work may change, but the quest for a more humane working life based on scientific findings will remain. It is important to ensure that digitalization does not lead to the dehumanization of work. The design of software plays a central role here - because good usability not only promotes user-friendliness, but also psychological empowerment and thus New Work principles.
Workshop - a thousand tools & nobody notices anything?
The first workshop in the morning, entitled "A thousand tools & nobody notices?", attracted many interested participants. In addition to many advantages, the digitalized world of work unfortunately also brings many stress factors with it.
Heide Hüttner (ExtraZwei) began by emphasizing that digital stress is now part of many people's everyday lives. The simultaneous use of several digital tools in particular leads to a constantly perceived background noise, which in turn triggers gradual stress reactions. In the work context, the consequences ultimately lie in constant availability, a high flood of information and a large number of interruptions. As a result, employees are not only significantly less productive, but are also increasingly exposed to psychological stress due to shorter recovery times.
According to Heide Hüttner, we are all familiar with sudden messenger pop-ups, an overflowing inbox or team meetings that almost merge into one another. The participants also reported similar situations in their respective workplaces. Against this backdrop, Heide Hüttner went on to explain that it is important to move towards self-determined media use. She then provided the participants with specific strategies.
For example, it can be helpful to prioritize tasks through targeted email management, deactivate messenger notifications during busy periods and use digital tools more consciously and reduce them if necessary. Communicating fixed availability times with other employees and clearly defining break times and rest periods can also have a positive effect on stress management.
After these interesting and enlightening perspectives, our second part is no less exciting. It deals with the presentations and the workshop from the afternoon. In addition to the cultural requirements for AI, it will also deal with soccer-playing robots, a "dancing" cup and the emerging discipline of UX writing.