Who is taking over the UX world? (notes from STC conference)

13 May 2005 - 12:43pm
9 years ago
3 replies
495 reads
Lada Gorlenko
2004

This week, I attended the 52nd STC (Society for Technical
Communication) conference. It's a major event with close to 1,000 of
attendees and up to 25 sessions running in parallel (multiple by 3
days by 3-4 session slots per day). In other words, it's big, well
established and influential in its world.

What totally surprised me is that both opening and closing keynote
speakers chose absolutely the same theme: User Experience Design. I am
not that familiar with the STC world, but the surprising choice didn't
seem to be coincidental. Below are brief notes and my reflections.

Opening session: Patrick Whitney, Director of the Institute of Design
at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

Notes:
1. Core competency of Design:
- Understanding users in the context of business value;
- Linking user values to economic values;
- Analysing patterns of use and applying them to design of new products.
2. From design of form to design of function to design of UX.
3. Half of the presentation was devoted to ethnographic research as the
basis of good design.
4. Tech. communicators have a big role to play in all this.

Closing session: William Gribbons, Director of Human Factors Program
at Bentley College, Mass.

Notes:
1. The greatest challenge faced by many companies is product
differentiation, and the UX model stands as the greatest opportunity
for such differentiation.
2. UX reflects the pinnacle of UCD and is a logical extension of what
many in the field of tech. communication have been doing for years.
3. UX comprises market segmentation, value proposition, human
behaviour, experience as brand, etc.
4. UX is the future, but is currently an orphan with no single parent
discipline. No one seems to be skilled or bold enough to say "it's
mine", so go tech. communicators and grab UX, while it is still up
for grab. [This is where learning to keep stiff upper lip comes in
handy, folks :-)]

There are conferences to which we go to learn, and there are
conferences to which we go (or should do so) to teach. This is one of
the latter kind. Agree, it may seem to be off our track. With the
exception of a few advanced sessions on information design tools (note
that they call it "info design" not "info architecture"), the rest of
what was relevant to me was very basic. But oh boy, these guys are
eager to learn about UX, usability, and design, just come and teach
them! Many wear UX-type hats, often with patchy understanding of what
UX means and requires. And they will be taking on these roles more and
more in the future, because the progression seems to be natural and is
highly encouraged within their field.

These are highly skilled and pretty open-minded people with a passion
for personal and professional growth. To me, they seem to be ideal
candidates for the role of "design communicators", which we discussed
some time ago. Many of them also work in corporate communications and
thus have hidden influence on corporate cultures and languages.

I left the conference feeling that we shall do something about it.
Would encourage you to think of STC as a place where we can go to
educate and make friends with those who are willing to help us in
spreading (and wording) our big message. Call for papers for the next
year's conference will be issued in about 6-7 weeks. If you think it's
worth a thought, we may consider joining efforts and come up with a
series of targeted UX/Design education sessions.

There were presenters that will be known to many on this list, such as
Whitney Quesenbery, Caroline Jarrett, Ginny Redish (both Whitney and
Ginny are STC fellows), but I failed to spot any single
distinguishable and consistent theme that would hold most talks in the
"Usability and Information Design" stem together.

What do you reckon? If anyone is interested, let's talk.

Lada

Comments

13 May 2005 - 2:26pm
Tadej Maligoj
2004

Hi, Lada,

nice to hear from you again! Was enjoying the big party, hah? ... ;+)

I used to be a member of this society, but found it boresome quite
soon. Whittney and Ginny is traveling around the globe and visit every
chapter meeting for a ticket and a room, teaching folks about
scrolling issues and post-it prototyping. But that's stil highlights
of UX in the STC. If someone wants to retire and make easy money, STC
will be a willing audience to listen.

Tadej

BTW: There was a guy came from NNg usability week. He got knowledge I
read in ten-years-old book about. Sometimes I feel like a rocket
scientist here ... ;+)

On 5/13/05, Lada Gorlenko <lada at acm.org> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> This week, I attended the 52nd STC (Society for Technical
> Communication) conference. It's a major event with close to 1,000 of
> attendees and up to 25 sessions running in parallel (multiple by 3
> days by 3-4 session slots per day). In other words, it's big, well
> established and influential in its world.
>
> What totally surprised me is that both opening and closing keynote
> speakers chose absolutely the same theme: User Experience Design. I am
> not that familiar with the STC world, but the surprising choice didn't
> seem to be coincidental. Below are brief notes and my reflections.
>
> Opening session: Patrick Whitney, Director of the Institute of Design
> at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
>
> Notes:
> 1. Core competency of Design:
> - Understanding users in the context of business value;
> - Linking user values to economic values;
> - Analysing patterns of use and applying them to design of new products.
> 2. From design of form to design of function to design of UX.
> 3. Half of the presentation was devoted to ethnographic research as the
> basis of good design.
> 4. Tech. communicators have a big role to play in all this.
>
> Closing session: William Gribbons, Director of Human Factors Program
> at Bentley College, Mass.
>
> Notes:
> 1. The greatest challenge faced by many companies is product
> differentiation, and the UX model stands as the greatest opportunity
> for such differentiation.
> 2. UX reflects the pinnacle of UCD and is a logical extension of what
> many in the field of tech. communication have been doing for years.
> 3. UX comprises market segmentation, value proposition, human
> behaviour, experience as brand, etc.
> 4. UX is the future, but is currently an orphan with no single parent
> discipline. No one seems to be skilled or bold enough to say "it's
> mine", so go tech. communicators and grab UX, while it is still up
> for grab. [This is where learning to keep stiff upper lip comes in
> handy, folks :-)]
>
> There are conferences to which we go to learn, and there are
> conferences to which we go (or should do so) to teach. This is one of
> the latter kind. Agree, it may seem to be off our track. With the
> exception of a few advanced sessions on information design tools (note
> that they call it "info design" not "info architecture"), the rest of
> what was relevant to me was very basic. But oh boy, these guys are
> eager to learn about UX, usability, and design, just come and teach
> them! Many wear UX-type hats, often with patchy understanding of what
> UX means and requires. And they will be taking on these roles more and
> more in the future, because the progression seems to be natural and is
> highly encouraged within their field.
>
> These are highly skilled and pretty open-minded people with a passion
> for personal and professional growth. To me, they seem to be ideal
> candidates for the role of "design communicators", which we discussed
> some time ago. Many of them also work in corporate communications and
> thus have hidden influence on corporate cultures and languages.
>
> I left the conference feeling that we shall do something about it.
> Would encourage you to think of STC as a place where we can go to
> educate and make friends with those who are willing to help us in
> spreading (and wording) our big message. Call for papers for the next
> year's conference will be issued in about 6-7 weeks. If you think it's
> worth a thought, we may consider joining efforts and come up with a
> series of targeted UX/Design education sessions.
>
> There were presenters that will be known to many on this list, such as
> Whitney Quesenbery, Caroline Jarrett, Ginny Redish (both Whitney and
> Ginny are STC fellows), but I failed to spot any single
> distinguishable and consistent theme that would hold most talks in the
> "Usability and Information Design" stem together.
>
> What do you reckon? If anyone is interested, let's talk.
>
> Lada
>
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--
_______________________________
Tadej Maligoj, Information Architect
e1: tadej.maligoj at gmail.com
e2: studio at maligoj.com
m: 031 306 986
w: www.maligoj.com

13 May 2005 - 11:11pm
Navneet Nair
2004

>
> > These are highly skilled and pretty open-minded people with a passion
> > for personal and professional growth. To me, they seem to be ideal
> > candidates for the role of "design communicators", which we discussed
> > some time ago. Many of them also work in corporate communications and
> > thus have hidden influence on corporate cultures and languages.
>

In my company, Technical Communication and Training have become an integral
part of the UX team, which in turn is a part of Product Management. In my
experience, they do want to learn and the merger of the Tech.Comm. team with
UX was not resented.

I had an opportunity to conduct an interaction design workshop for the local
STC chapter here in Mumbai, and it was really well appreciated. Also after
sensitizing the team to UX and usability issues, they were even able to spot
usability issues while coming out with the user documentation...

In fact the documentation phase can also be looked up as a phase where
interface improvements may be carried out based on evaluation by the
technical communicator (if they are already sensitized to user needs...)

Cheers
Navneet

----------------------------------------------------
Navneet Nair
Interaction Architect
onClipEvent: form follows function();
----------------------------------------------------
Website: http://www.onclipevent.com
Blog: http://www.onclipevent.com/enterframe/

22 May 2005 - 5:36pm
Michael Albers
2005

Yep, the STC call for papers will be out shortly and are due in
August. I'll post it when it finally comes out. Conference is in Las
Vegas next May.

[putting on Usability and Information Design Stem Managers's hat]
It's hard to have a consistent theme across sessions because of the way the
papers get reviewed and scheduled. However, if anyone is interested, I'm
more than willing to work with you to try and make it a reality. It would
be interesting to have some higher level sessions. I agree that too
sessions many are basic. I really want a strong mix of levels.

Basic details are that proposals are due in August and then I have a
scheduling meeting in October. All sessions and presenters get assigned
then. So I have to know if a there is a block of presenters/sessions that
would need to be scheduled. There are, of course, other scheduling issues
like 22 or so parallel sessions with six? stems and various room
sizes....so each stem only gets a few rooms per session and UID is
typically a high submission stem.

Mike Albers

>> I left the conference feeling that we shall do something about it.
> Would encourage you to think of STC as a place where we can go to
> educate and make friends with those who are willing to help us in
> spreading (and wording) our big message. Call for papers for the next
> year's conference will be issued in about 6-7 weeks. If you think it's
> worth a thought, we may consider joining efforts and come up with a
> series of targeted UX/Design education sessions.
>
> There were presenters that will be known to many on this list, such as
> Whitney Quesenbery, Caroline Jarrett, Ginny Redish (both Whitney and
> Ginny are STC fellows), but I failed to spot any single
> distinguishable and consistent theme that would hold most talks in the
> "Usability and Information Design" stem together.

-------------------------------
Dr. Michael J. Albers
Professional Writing Program
Department of English
University of Memphis
Memphis TN 38152

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