Published on 11 Nov 2022.
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Speaking at PUSH UX in Munich

Last week was the tenth anniversary PUSH Conference in Munich, and I was fortunate enough to be invited along as one of 15 speakers.

This year, over 650 UX professionals came together for two days of talks, workshops and interactive exhibitions. The event was an absolute blast: Christian, Philipp and the other organisers did an incredible job. Everything was perfect, right down to the plentiful amounts of cake to celebrate PUSH’s 10 year birthday.

My talk was called “Do UX Believe in Magic?” and looked at how the tools of a magician, such as misdirection, storytelling and delight, can influence how user experience designers craft great digital products. It’s a talk I’ve given a few times, but never in front of such a large audience.

I was in amazing company, with speakers from Google, Bumble, Twitter, Multiverse and more. As well as speaking, I attended the talks and learnt a ton about UX. Here are some of my key takeaways from the other talks:

  1. Stop designing for users(!)

Thorsten Jonas gave a passionate talk on Sustainable UX, and his hottest take was that, as designers, we should stop designing for users, and consider non-user ‘personas’ too (the climate, the planet, and other systems that have a stake in what we design). He showed how to do this at each step of the product development process. In his words: designing for humans should become designing for humanity!

  1. Evaluate your products using a woman-centric framework

Mansi Gupta is the founder of a design firm called Unconform, which trains organisations in how to design with a women-centric lens. She outlined how to move from designing products that were simply offensive (like the ‘pinky glove’) or impartial (‘one size fits men’) to products that were holistic, and solved root causes of problems affecting women.

Plug for Mansi: she’s running a live remote course on how to design women-centric products in December; you can sign up here:

  1. Lean on the research

Jason Barrons gave a great talk where he dissected our obsession with dark mode. He dug into academic research papers from across the fields of psychology, neruoscience and HCI to challenged some widely-help assumptions. More than just showing that ‘dark mode reduces eye strain’ is untrue, he emphasised the importance of designing from first principles.

  1. Care about your team as humans, not just employees

Paola Mariselli gave an incredible talk looking at how to go from being a good manager to a great manager. She outlined ten steps, which included advice on feedback, resource planning 1-to-1s, psychological safety and career growth. My favourite point was this: treat each person not just as someone you’re managing, but as a human with their own dimensions.

  1. Starting over can be good

The final talk was by Sarmishta Pantham, who taught us about the power of staying a beginner. Her story showed how starting over regularly can be therapeutic, reflective and explorative, and that we’re never ‘just’ beginners.

Speaking in front of nearly 700 people felt daunting at first, but the team at PUSH were so supportive. I was lucky enough to meet some incredible people, both at the conference and in the days after while exploring Munich.

Photo of me on stage speaking at PUSH UX

Photo credit Saloni — thanks!

PUSH was definitely one of the best conferences I’ve been to — if you get the chance to go next year, I’d highly recommend it.

A personal note — at the start of the year, I’d set one of my personal ‘big hairy audacious goals’ to become a conference speaker. I’ve been teaching Figma classes and doing guest speaker slots at coding bootcamps, but this was my first big conference. It’s wild to see that goal slowly coming true. Excited and humbled!

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