This February, our very own Joni, Anna and Tiina had the pleasure of attending Interaction18 in Lyon, France. Their minds are still buzzing with new inspirational ideas and insights. Thus, they decided to share some of the things they learned.
Joni Juup: This year’s Interaction was an amazing conference filled with great people all around. The overall theme in a lot of the discussions and talks seemed to be about how we can be more responsible designers.
In addition to listening to these talks, I attended the Machine Learning for Interaction Designers workshop. It opened my eyes to how fast you can prototype certain types of things using machine learning.
How was your week Anna? You gave a great talk at the event!
Anna Haverinen: It was such a fantastic week! I’m still very much overwhelmed by the experience, and my head is filled with so many new ideas.
I’m fascinated by negative emotions and how they affect both the design process as well as the outcome of the actual digital product. In my talk, I tapped into the experience of applying my Ph.D. research about online memorials into work projects.
What about you Tiina, our francophile UX Designer? How was your week?
Tiina Viljakainen: Merci, ça va trés bien! In addition to getting to speak French and seeing a bit of Lyon while eating too many “pains au chocolat”, the trip was one of the best experiences of my professional life. I gained inspiration for ethical and sustainable design work, but also got some spark to think about the basic everyday tasks from a new perspective.
AH: For me, the overarching theme of the entire conference was inclusivity, how we should be more mindful about the people we are designing for, and expand our horizons by being more open for collaboration across different fields. When we collaborate and learn from different perspectives and mindsets, it enriches the way we design.
Personally, I was also surprised how much people appreciated the fact that I don’t come from a design background. As a design anthropologist, I can provide a lot of unique insight and fresh approaches. I felt the entire experience strengthened my professional identity.
JJ: After the conference, these are the main themes I have been thinking about:
- Be responsible as a designer – the tools and services we create for shaping the world are also shaping us and how we see each other.
- Be inclusive – remember that people have permanent and temporary disabilities and situations that can affect how they’re able to interact with the products we create.
- Machine learning and AI offer exciting new ways to build prototypes and digital solutions – especially the tools used in prototyping have evolved a lot.
Tiina, you attended talks that dealt with adding friction to design. Can we expect an insane amount of confirmation dialogues in your design flows from now on?
TV: Ha! I’m adding friction everywhere – our users won’t be able to get past those confirmation screens! Seriously though, I’m now much more aware of the ways friction can be used well and for the end user’s benefit.
I’ve always tried to keep minorities in mind while designing. I am also the first to admit that I’ve often failed to do so. During the event, I learned a lot more about the topic and am now more conscious of it than ever before – I feel like I have concrete tools to achieve the goal. Everyone deserves good design!
There was also a lot of talk about how designers have great power and how it should be used. Being responsible for the real-world outcome of your designs is inspiring and humbling at the same time. It was also good to be reminded of the essential designer tools: trusting the process and having the courage to fail in order to succeed.
AH: One thing about collaboration that stood out was the fact that it’s not always easy to get researchers, designers and developers work together seamlessly.
At Taiste, we have managed to fit those things together quite neatly, but I realised that this is not always the case. Team structure and how the different perspectives are communicated plays a major role in this. I will definitely write another blog post about this issue later on.
Why wouldn’t I collaborate with all of these people around the world that IxDA brought together? Not only does it make me a better designer, it is also rewarding and fun in its own right.
JJ: I haven’t attended these kinds of big events before and was really amazed by the openness of everyone there. I had great talks with people and I’m already collaborating in a bunch of interesting projects and discussions.
TV: Oh man. The core of design is communication. And in order to do great design work, you simply need to collaborate. The way I see it is: why wouldn’t I collaborate with all of these people around the world that IxDA brought together? Not only does it make me a better designer, it is also rewarding and fun in its own right.
Our favourite talks
AH: There were so many, but one of the most inspiring ones for me was “Embodied storytelling – experience reality and empathy first hand” by Yedan Qian. I believe haptic design is definitely an upcoming trend that we should pay close attention to.
JJ: After getting my technology mindset on at the ML workshop, I really enjoyed the 3D & VR related talks: Carina Ngai’s “Design better AR products with blind young adults”, Matt Schaefer’s “VR as a design tool” and Taru Muhonen’s “Introduction to creating 3D interfaces and experiences”.
TV: “Can being African make you bad at design? — Cultural bias in design” by Farai Madzima was my favourite. Farai was such a great speaker – he had us all concentrate on what he was saying – and laughing at the same time.
And the points he made were not just about design, bias and cultural differences. It was more about how in any case we as people need to find good ways to communicate, disagree and decide on things together.
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