Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023
Tuesday, July 11th, 2023
Thursday, June 15th, 2023
Wednesday, May 17th, 2023
Talks and workshops at UX London 2023
Back in November of last year I announced that UX London would be returning in 2023 and that I’d be curating the line-up again. That’s where I’ve been putting a lot of my energy over the last six months.
The line-up is complete. If I step back and try to evaluate it objectively, I’ve gotta say …hot damn, that’s a fine roster of speakers!
Imran Afzal, Vimla Appadoo, Daniel Burka, Trine Falbe, Vitaly Friedman, Mansi Gupta, Stephen Hay, Asia Hoe, Amy Hupe, Paul Robert Lloyd, Stacey Mendez, Ignacia Orellana, Stefanie Posavec, Hannah Smith, and David Dylan Thomas.
Take a look at the complete schedule—a terrific mix of thought-provoking talks and practical hands-on workshops.
On day one, you’ve got these talks:
- Designing your design process,
- Thinking differently about digital sustainability,
- Let’s choose empathy,
- The lies we tell ourselves about design systems, and
- What if people weren’t the product? Building a web that loves humanity.
Then on day two:
- The necessity and practice of women-centric design,
- Time team: Documenting decisions and marking milestones,
- User experience beyond screens,
- Can designers save lives? Not by themselves, and
- Ghosts in the machine: AI, design, and ethics.
And that’s just the talks! You’ve also got these four excellent workshops on both days:
- Practical, ethical design,
- Designing for complex UIs,
- Strategies for creating and evolving design systems, and
- Dataviz sketching session.
That’s a lot of great stuff packed into two days!
In case you haven’t guessed, I am very excited about this year’s UX London. I would love to see you there.
As an appreciation for you putting up with my child-like excitement, I’d like to share a discount code with you. You can get 20%—that’s one fifth!—off the ticket price using the code CLEARLEFT20.
But note that the standard ticket pricing ends on Friday, May 26th so use that code in the next week to get the most bang for your buck. After that, there’ll only be last-chance tickets, which cost more.
Looking forward to seeing you at Tobacco Dock on June 22nd and 23rd!
Thursday, May 11th, 2023
Thursday, May 4th, 2023
I did an episode of the Clearleft podcast on innovation a while back:
Everyone wants to be innovative …but no one wants to take risks.
The word innovation is often bandied about in an unquestioned positive way. But if we acknowledge that innovation is—by definition—risky, then the exhortations sound less positive.
“We provide innovative solutions for businesses!” becomes “We provide risky solutions for businesses!”
I was reminded of this when I saw the website for the Podcast Standards Project. The original text on the website described the project as:
…a grassroots coalition working to establish modern, open standards, to enable innovation in the podcast industry.
I pushed back on that wording (partly because I’ve seen the word “innovation” used as a smoke screen for user-hostile practices like tracking and surveillance). The wording has since changed to:
…a grassroots coalition dedicated to creating standards and practices that improve the open podcasting ecosystem for both listeners and creators.
That’s better. It’s more precise.
Am I nitpicking? Only if you think that “innovation” and “improvement” are synonyms. I don’t think they are.
Innovation implies change. Improvement implies positive change.
Not all change is positive. Not all innovation is positive.
Innovation goes hand in hand with disruption. Again, disruption involves change. But not necessarily positive change.
Think about the antonyms of change and disruption: stasis and stability. Those words don’t sound very exciting, but in some arenas they’re exactly what you should be aiming for; arenas like infrastructure or standards.
Not to get all pace layers-y here, but it seems to me that every endeavour has a sweet spot for innovation. For some projects, too little innovation is bad. For others, too much innovation is worse.
The trick is knowing which kind of project you’re working on.
(As a side note, I think some people use the word innovation to describe the generative, divergent phase of a design project: “how might we come up with innovative new approaches?” But we already have a word to describe the practice of generating novel and interesting ideas. That word isn’t innovation. It’s creativity.)
Tuesday, March 28th, 2023
Design transformation on the Clearleft podcast
Boom! The Clearleft podcast is back!
I’ve got to be honest, this episode is a little inside baseball. It’s a bit navel-gazey and soul-searching as I pick apart the messaging emblazoned on the Clearleft website:
The design transformation consultancy.
Whereas most of the previous episodes of the podcast would be of interest to our peers—fellow designers—this one feels like it might of more interest to potential clients. But I hope it’s not too sales-y.
You’ll hear from Danish designer Maja Raunbak, and American in Amsterdam Nick Thiel as well as Clearleft’s own Chris Pearce. And I’ve sampled a talk from the Leading Design archives by Stuart Frisby.
The episode clocks in at a brisk eighteen and a half minutes. Have a listen.
While you’re at it, take this opportunity to subscribe to the Clearleft podcast on Overcast, Spotify, Apple, Google or by using a good ol’-fashioned RSS feed. That way the next episodes in the season will magically appear in your podcatching software of choice.
But I’m not making any promises about when that will be. Previously, I released new episodes in a season on a weekly basis. This time I’m going to release each episode whenever it’s ready. That might mean there’ll be a week or two between episodes. Or there might be a month or so between episodes.
I realise that this unpredictable release cycle is the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do, but it’s actually the most sensible way for me to make sure the podcast actually gets out. I was getting a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of having six episodes ready to launch over a six week period. What with curating UX London and other activities, it would’ve been too much for me to do.
So rather than delay this season any longer, I’m going to drop each episode whenever it’s done. Chaos! Anarchy! Dogs and cats living together!
Monday, March 27th, 2023
More speakers for UX London 2023
I’d like to play it cool when I announce the latest speakers for UX London 2023, like I could be all nonchalant and say, “oh yeah, did I not mention these people are also speaking…?”
But I wouldn’t be able to keep up that façade for longer than a second. The truth is I am excited to the point of skittish gigglyness about this line-up.
Look, I’ll let you explore these speakers for yourself while I try to remain calm and simply enumerate the latest additions…
- Ignacia Orellana, Service design and research consultant,
- Stefanie Posavec, Designer, artist and author, and
- David Dylan Thomas, Author, speaker, filmmaker.
The line-up is almost complete now! Just one more speaker to announce.
I highly recommend you get your UX London ticket if you haven’t already. You won’t want to miss this!
Friday, March 10th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Wednesday, January 11th, 2023
Sunday, December 4th, 2022
Tweaking navigation labelling
I’ve always liked the idea that your website can be your API. Like, you’ve already got URLs to identify resources, so why not make that URL structure predictable and those resources parsable?
That’s why the (read-only) API for The Session doesn’t live at a separate subdomain. It uses the same URL structure as the regular site, but you can request the resources in an alternative format: JSON, XML, RSS.
This works out pretty well, mostly because I put a lot of thought into the URL structure of the site. I’m something of a URL fetishist, but I think that taking a URL-first approach to information architecture can be a good exercise.
Most of the resources on The Session involve nouns like tunes, events, discussions, and so on. There’s a consistent and predictable structure to the URLs for those sections:
And then an idividual item can be found at:
That’s all nice and predictable and the naming of the URLs matches what you’d expect to find:
Tunes, events, discussions, sessions. Those are all fine. But there’s one section of the site that has this root URL:
When I was coming up with the URL structure twenty years ago, it was clear what you’d find there: track listings for albums of music. No one would’ve expected to find actual recordings of music available to listen to on-demand. The bandwidth constraints and technical limitations of the time made that clear.
Two decades on, the situation has changed. Now someone new to the site might well expect to hit a link called “recordings” and expect to hear actual recordings of music.
So I should probably change the label on the link. I don’t think “albums” is quite right—what even is an album any more? The word “discography” is probably the most appropriate label.
Here’s my dilemma: if I update the label, should I also update the URL structure?
Right now, the section of the site with
/tunes URLs is labelled “tunes”. The section of the site with
/events URLs is labelled “events”. Currently the section of the site with
/recordings URLs is labelled “recordings”, but may soon be labelled “discography”.
If you click on “tunes”, you end up at
/tunes. But if you click on “discography”, you end up at
Is that okay? Am I the only one that would be bothered by that?
I could update the URLs to match the labelling (with redirects for the old URLs, of course), but I’m not so keen on this URL structure:
It doesn’t seem as tidy as:
But if I don’t update the URLs to match the label, then I’m just going to have to live with the mismatch.
I’m just thinking out loud here. I think I should definitely update the label. I just won’t make any decision on changing URLs for a while yet.
Thursday, November 24th, 2022
Sunday, October 30th, 2022
Monday, October 10th, 2022
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022
Wednesday, July 13th, 2022
Tuesday, June 14th, 2022
Sunday, June 12th, 2022
Tuesday, May 24th, 2022
The complete line-up for UX London
The line-up for UX London is now complete!
Two thematically-linked talks have been added to day one. Emma Parnell will be talking about the work she did with NHS Digital on the booking service for Covid-19 vaccinations. Videha Sharma—an NHS surgeon!—will be talking about co-designing and prototyping in healthcare.
There’s a bunch of new additions to day three. Amir Ansari will be talking about design systems in an enterprise setting and there’ll be two different workshops on design systems from John Bevan and Julia Belling.
But don’t worry; if design systems aren’t your jam, you’ve got options. Also on day three, Alastair Somerville will be getting tactile in his workshop on sensory UX. And Trenton Moss will be sharing his mind-control tricks in his workshop, “How to sell in your work to anyone.”
And don’t forget, you get quite a discount when you buy five or more tickets at a time so bring the whole team. UX London should be your off-site.