With 2017 over, it’s time to reflect on a year of memorable, impactful, and joyful events hosted by two of San Diego’s largest user experience organizations: San Diego Experience Design (SDXD) and UX Speakeasy.
For the unacquainted, each month, SDXD and UX Speakeasy organize enriching, high quality events for San Diego’s vibrant design community. A typical evening involves industry professionals sharing insights through talks; hands-on learning in the form of engaging activities; and connecting with a variety of interesting people over delicious food and drink.
At this year’s swanky holiday party, hosted at the beautiful and historic Lafayette Hotel, I applied my craft as a UX Researcher to better understand people’s’ favorite events and ask what keeps them coming back. After hours of continuous chatting, here are the results:
Jared Spool on UX of Security [UX Speakeasy | August]
This educational and entertaining talk at Qualcomm’s Q Auditorium featured UX expert Jared Spool. He highlighted how to design for security without frustration, handling security elegantly, and breaking down Amazon’s multi-state security model.
Numerous community members highlighted this event as their favorite. Julie Morgan praised the “smart insights, take home points, accessibility, and venue.” While Gianna Gallo enjoyed hearing about “biometrics versus passcodes, and the overall complexity regarding the UX of security.”
Bi-National CX for Startups [SDXD | July]
Members met with founders of startups based in San Diego and Tijuana to explore opportunities to improve the bi-national usage of their products. This involved guerilla user research on the trolley from downtown San Diego to the border, then active prototyping and solution development at MINDHub, an incubator in Tijuana. This fun and memorable trip stood out in many people’s minds:
“It was exciting to execute guerrilla research on the trolley with participants for real products, then apply those learnings to improve the user experience.” — Antonio Khazdozian
“There’s always been a close link between San Diego and Tijuana. This fostered a bond with our colleagues across the border.” — Rich Melcher
Career Paths [UX Speakeasy | October]
Several of the most common questions asked at our meetups involve breaking into UX from a different field, finding a job, and career progression. The Career Paths event brought together UX professionals at all levels, hiring managers, and recruiters to answer these questions. It was one of this year’s favorite events for the informative talks and networking opportunities.
“When I began working with UX in San Diego, I didn’t know anyone. This event created an opportunity for those starting out to connect with others and to learn. It was a form of paying forward a favor and providing an opportunity that I never had.” — Chad Martin
Battling the Darkside, Dark UX [SDXD | October]
Business and marketing goals can lead companies down the dark side of human-centered design. Hosted at Sandbox, an event space in East Village, attendees explored attributes of Dark UX and examined relevant examples of designs meant to trick users. Afterwards, a workshop pitted light against dark in hypothetical design scenarios linked to business goals.
Attendees praised the unique topic and atmosphere. Rahul Ramath stated that he enjoyed “seeing the dark side of design discussed while wearing masks, all within a unique venue.” Madhuri stated it was interesting to see the contrast of human-centric research in academia, which focuses on ethics and integrity, versus industry, where business goals are essential.
UXing the Conversation [SDXD | May]
In the field of UX, the ability to communicate the value of our work holds high importance. However, the individuals we work alongside have unique perspectives and differing values. This workshop grouped attendees into teams to create empathy maps that help better define the behaviors and needs of our stakeholders, then suss out means of leveraging these insights to better advocate for UX.
“The event was very helpful in empathizing and understanding our stakeholders — beyond just their behaviors — by thinking about their thoughts and values.” — Sergio Leon Lau
When asked “what keeps you coming back” to our events, three themes emerged: the people, the learning, and the fun.
A huge thank you to the SDXD and UX Speakeasy organizers and attendees of this year’s events, as well as to those who participated in the interviews for this article.
We’re looking forward to seeing your faces, both familiar and new, for another outstanding year 2018!
All of 2017’s events:
SDXD 2017 Events
June: Effective Conversations
September: User-Centered Design in Virtual Experiences
December: UX Holiday Party
UX Speakeasy 2017 Events
February: Valentine’s Design Family Feud
August: Jared Spool on UX of Security
October: UX Career Paths
November: UX in the Boardroom
December: Holiday Party
James is a San Diego based User Experience Researcher passionate about understanding users to craft memorable, impactful experiences.