Barcamps seem to be a growing trend these days and yet there are still a few people out there who have no idea what they actually are. I was one of them until I went to UXcamp Europe this summer. A barcamp is a user-generated conference (according to Wikipedia) where any attendee can volunteer to hold a seminar or workshop. UXcamp Europe was not only my first barcamp, but also one of my first real UX events. It was such a fantastic experience that I wanted to let you know about the mysterious world of UXcamp and inspire you to come along next year. UXcamp Europe began four years ago and Pidoco has been involved every step of the way, helping ensure everyone gets the most out of an informative and innovative weekend. This being my first ever UX event, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was amazed however at how much I got out of the weekend and what an overwhelming sense of community there was.
When I arrived on the Saturday morning, the schedule had already been drawn up. I saw the noticeboard, which you can see in the image below, and realized that this conference was not like your traditional events where talks are planned out months in advance. I didn’t have a chance to look up the speakers on LinkedIn, or Google any of the topics, so I chose the seminars that sounded the most interesting. The first talk I went to was on UX blogging by the innovative German-language blog uxzentrisch. Not only was this full of useful tips on writing, but the seminar was a great opportunity to see the different ways we can look at UX and how we can show that UX is not limited to software interfaces.
After this I also attended a talk on cognitive psychology by Jan Srutek. It was great to hear an interdisciplinary talk that not only looked into the theory behind the thought processes of users, but also offered practical advice about how to guide users in right direction through design. Another great talk I went to was on “The first run” by Paul Baron and Tomonmi Sasaki. This dealt with the first steps a new user takes to sign up for a product or service. The rules I learned were to show users they will be getting something great in return for the information they provide. Another thing they advised is to make signup forms shorter, or split these steps into stages if this is not possible. This is fantastic advice for anyone who is looking to revise a signup form, or payment process on their website or app.
The last talk and my favorite had to be the closing keynote speech by Eric Reiss, a self-proclaimed UX evangelist. He used some great examples to illustrate that innovation should be used to solve problems, not create them. Here’s a picture of the Octoauto, which promised to give a smoother drive, but the price tag and the sheer size of the car meant that the inventor Reeves failed to generate interest for a single order. I love Eric’s commonsense attitude to UX, but most of all it’s fantastic to see the genuine support he has for the UX community. If you want to know more about Eric, You can follow him on Twitter, or read up about his theater and UX career on Wikipedia.
All in all, I had a fantastic weekend, a great introduction to UX and I can’t wait for my next barcamp. I wish I could go to UX Camp Hamburg, but Philipp from the Pidoco team will be there. I’m already looking forward to next year’s UXcamp Europe, which I’m sure will be bigger and better than ever. See you all there!