Last Thursday, Euan and I attended Create Leicester’s first ever full day event at the Curve theatre in Leicester. Billed as a day of ‘insights to inspire digital creators’ and boasting a cracking line up of individuals from the digital design industry, we were excited to see what nuggets of wisdom the day would have to offer.
Having settled into our seats with a pastry and coffee, and after a forage through our gift bags the day kicked off with the first talk from Ben Holliday. Ben works as the Chief Design Officer for FutureGov, who ‘use design, technology and organisation development approaches to create public services fit for the 21st century.’ Ben’s talk, titled ’A Design State of Mind’ talked about how the way we think about the design process can reflect the outcomes created. He spoke about the key thought processes to cultivate as designers - such as openness to new ideas and keeping the user experience central to the design process. A key take away was to try and leave assumptions by the wayside and rather than asking 'How can we prove we're right?' we should ask 'How might we be wrong about this?'. Ben pulled in lots of cultural references to illustrate his points, making the talk feel well paced and entertaining. A great jumping off point for the rest of the day!
Next up to speak was UX Consultant at Sparckhq, Helen Joy. Her talk was wittily called ‘Who’s design is it anyway’ and elaborated on the ideas of the prior talk by highlighting the need to target our designs at the actual user from an informed position not the user as we assume them to be. Describing real life examples where she and her team had found ideas disproved by site visits or user research, Helen explained how we need to create designs that worked for users who may well be a lot more digitally illiterate then us digital designers - and even not to make assumptions about the environment in which they are interacting with our products.
Emma Parnell , was the last speaker before lunch. Service Design Lead at AddactionUK. Emma’s talk focused on her experiences of changing her role in order to give vital design knowledge and expertise to the charity sector and was called ‘Making a Change’. She honestly expressed the challenges faced by the charity sector and the impact that the change had had on her both professionally and mentally. It was very impressive to see someone overcome her own anxieties in order to put across the need for more design expertise in this vital sector clearly and in a heartfelt way. It was clear from her talk and delivery, how seriously Emma took her role and how strongly she felt that this area needed greater support. A very interesting and raw talk to mull over whilst munching on our sandwiches and pasta salad.