UX Masterclass 2021: the contribution of Torresburriel Estudio
The UX Masterclass 2021, by far the biggest UX event of the year, took place in October. And we couldn’t be happier to have been there, in the front row, for its 17th edition.
We take this opportunity to thank Usaria, host of this world-class event, created by the UXalliance, of which we are proud members since March 2018.
We know that many readers of our blog were not able to participate, but we do not want to leave you out of this amazing opportunity for those professionals, consultants and researchers in design, innovation or technology interested in exploring the responsibility they have regarding ethics, accessibility, sustainability and inclusivity to serve and respond to consumers who are increasingly aware and sensitive to urgent global challenges.
This post is dedicated to you.
The event had a very full agenda, 3 days of almost 20 hours of conferences, round tables, exclusive workshops and networking spaces with experts from all over the world.
We were present during the three days:
- Day 1: October 14. Ethics, accessibility and inclusion.
- Day 2: October 15. Sustainability, circular, social and gender design.
- Day 3: October 16. ResearchOps special day.
Each day there was a representative from Torresburriel Estudio.
Day 1: “UX Training as a Conversion Engine in Emerging Contexts”, with Daniel Torres Burriel
Let’s start with Daniel, who talked about “UX training as a conversion driver in emerging contexts”.
Daniel’s presentation was set up in 5 blocks, starting with the history of User Experience: from 4,000 BC, when the Feng Shui concept already existed, to the present day. We reach the 20th century, passing through Walt Disney (did you know that Disney was obsessed with creating magical, immersive user experiences?) and up to the first iPhone. In this sense, in 1995, Donald Norman stands out as a pioneer who gave his name to UX design.
Daniel, who has been in the professional field for 20 years, also explained how the world has changed radically since he first came into contact with the discipline.
He shared the benefits of training people in UX (find out more about UX Learn), explaining that learning UX is much more than acquiring design skills. It is learning research; ideation (hypothesizing how to solve the problem); prototyping; testing.
Daniel emphasized the importance of educating in communication and other soft skills such as assertiveness or resilience, because not everything depends on technical or hard skills. Learning to work in a team is also crucial, in order to know how to communicate with different profiles.
There was also a reference to the pandemic and teleworking, which is here to stay. In Torresburriel Estudio we continue to work remotely, because we have assumed that we are destined to work with technology and in permanent development, and that implies a need for adaptation that is required in any person.
A part of the speech was also dedicated to UX professionals: as a recruiter and entrepreneur, Daniel has been noticing for a long time that it is a fact that companies need UX professionals and that it is important to distinguish years of experience and years of work.
Daniel also dedicated part of his presentation to case studies, providing his vision on the current situation and many recommendations for creating a case study to support a portfolio. We are immersed in the “case study generation”, where Medium is predominant, and this is a sign that our industry is more active than ever, but it is undeniable that this trend makes it difficult to distinguish one portfolio from another and CVs tend to be delivered in template format, without differentiation. How can someone differentiate themselves when applying for a position if the case studies of other candidates look exactly the same at first glance?
There are several reasons to reject the template-only methodology: from the undermining of critical thinking to the obsession with process and the inability to improvise.
To conclude, what Daniel always says, and something that we at the Studio have always believed: “Forget what you know and start all over again”.
Day 2: panel on “Design Education’s Responsibility to Sustainability” with Cinta Vergés
We were also present on the second day, in a group panel with the participation of Cinta Vergés, our Training Assistant at UX Learn, the training academy of Torresburriel Estudio.
The central theme was the responsibility of design education with sustainability. The participants contributed many very interesting ideas and Cinta emphasized that it is necessary to stop and think about in what form and how we are educating.
The reflection of Cinta was the same as all of our Training team: we are listening to the students and what they are asking us for are soft skills; sustainability; and we also need to focus on reducing inequality.
The pandemic has shown us that there are different ways of doing things. Remote education, which we thought was going to constrain us, has come to stay and to show that there are many alternatives beyond face-to-face classes.
There has also been self-criticism, because as educators we have adapted to a very reactive mentality regarding sustainability. We are having trouble being proactive as companies that educate and anticipate needs, as people dedicated to design. We must look beyond and not only at the needs of now.
To close our participation in the panel, we proposed that we need to rethink training in how, where and in what we train.
- How: our advice to students is to look for training that ensures that they apply guarantees, i.e.: trainers must transmit skills that are useful to develop a job and at the same time be able to continue training. It is also important for students to be open-minded about what companies, the market and end users are looking for.
- Where: covid-19 has given us an opportunity for more difficult contexts. All we need is a laptop and an internet connection. Without forgetting that this has a positive influence on the care of the environment.
- What: not to think “what do I want to teach”, but “what characteristics do I want my students to have after the training”. And from there, think about how to develop the content.
Day 3: “Ethics in User Research” with Alfonso Romay
Finally, this is the recap of the intervention of our COO, Alfonso Romay Carracedo, which took place during the third day.
The talk was very interesting (in English), and addressed ethical considerations in user research.
In the global scenario in which we consistently move, organizations do UX Research on a regular basis, and this is very positive, as it means that it already has a preponderant role. However, if the research is not done in a professional manner, ethical problems may arise. Remember that although the data is anonymous, it does not mean that people are not affected by the use we make of it.
The role of the researcher has also changed. We have more and more power and therefore we have to execute it responsibly. We need to develop rigorous, quality, precise, honest and transparent research, as best as possible, that allows us to discover benefits not only for the company but also for society.
However, we are facing a cultural conflict, because we want speed in the results, and this often leads to doing things in any way and crossing lines that we should not.
It is very difficult to give a universal definition of “ethical research”, since in each culture it is different. We can, however, stick to Nielsen’s definition, which, although it provides a frame of reference, does not give us the keys to concrete practices.
We have to put the focus on practice, remembering some very important aspects:
- vulnerable users: their participation in research processes is justified only if the ultimate goal is to improve their lives;
- users are people: let’s not treat users as “test objects” during the research process, they are still people;
- sensitive topics: let’s make sure as researchers that we have the resources to support users;
- do not generate false expectations;
- let us prepare ourselves for the management of the interpretations of the findings: if we do not know how to interpret the data, we will have wasted the valuable time of many people;
- do not mishandle the information: we must always ensure that we treat the data accurately and anonymously.
To conclude Alfonso reaffirmed something that we at Torresburriel Estudio are very aware of: it is necessary to establish a code of conduct. How? In the short term, by creating a starter kit. In the medium term, by establishing our own code of conduct, seeing what other organizations are doing and standardizing mentoring programs for researchers.
And never forget something very important: we must also take care of our researchers, because we will not be able to understand others without first taking care of ourselves.
This is our report for those professionals who would have liked to be there but could not. We hope to see you at the next UX Masterclass with more topics to talk about, always from the bottom of our hearts.
This article is a translation of the following one published on our corporate website: