UXSpain 2017: 2 Days Of UX & CX

UX Design | 26th May 2017

It was Hi INTERACTIVE's  second year of collaboration with UXSpain. This year it took place in Gijón, a beautiful city in Asturias, known for its awesome cider and cheese. The event had around 400 participants, with the most diverse speakers, for those who missed the event we will try to report as much as we can.

To kick off the first day of UXSpain they presented us with Claire Rowland one of the brilliant authors of “Designing Connected Products- UX for the Consumer Internet of Things”.

Claire is a IoT (internet of things) specialist, her work mostly revolves around connected homes, and her presentation focused on the need of user experience in the IoT, informing us that by 2020 it is estimated that we will have around 33 billion devices connected to the internet.

Giving brilliant examples of devices that still have to improve in order to have consistency, such as lamps and temperature monitors, she explains the need all users have of immediate feedback, and similar interfaces on connected devices. She touches a big threat, the intermittent connectivity, in other words, the time it takes for devices to synchronise. Stating that for instance, devices for health purposes can't fail, giving as an example a device that measures heart rate and oxygen levels in babies. In order to work around this issue she advises us to be truthful and transparent with our users. Just tell them the device is still “thinking” and let them know when it is “done” so that the user knows what is happening instead of pretending it is already functioning.

UX Spain 2017 event
UxSpain 2017 Event

She focuses on the facets of these products, suggesting that the inter-usability and the conceptual model (the way the user perceives the product/system) should be our main focus when designing for IoT. We should create similar interfaces, even if they differ in aspect, their main functions should be named equally in order to avoid confusion, keeping in mind that key actions should be on both devices, but those apps should provide more control and features offloaded, so that we don't break the experience, but rather we enhance it.

She offered two books that sadly we did not win.

Anna Vilalta, Co-founder of myABCKit, followed her after the coffee break with the theme “Diseñar para la incertidumbre” (Design for uncertainty).

Anna told her experience in the creation of myABCKit, and all the uncertainties around it. For us the sum of her talk was clear, metrics and research helped to develop a product users want, and team work done as a team achieves the dream.

The second non Spanish speaker was Ian Collingwood, who was Program Director at Startupbootcamp IoT & DataTech and co-founded Pollen, with “Indie Products: Lessons from the Music Industry for the Maker Revolution”.

Ian drove a parallelism between the old vinyl music industry and nowadays to show us how easy and accessible it is to be creative, and how he can succeed if we really love what we do.

After Ian appeared Itziar Pobes Gamarra, from We Question Our Project, with “No digital: cómo diseñar servicios cara a cara” (Not digital: how to design services face to face).

Itziar talked about the differences when “the interface is the person” presenting her latest project, explaining the constraints and joys of working with users, and how this process can change their minds and uncover clear needs. She explains that first of all, we should understand the service itself, and then work along with users to come up with the solution. She also reinforces that we should have a clear purpose when we involve the user, but that without a doubt we will reach a greater solution.

After a morning break the talks continued, this time with Óscar Méndez Soto presenting “AI (Artificial Intelligence), the next revolution for UX and CX”.

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Méndez Soto is the CEO and Co-founder of Paradigma Digital and Straitio as well as the founder of Bid Data Spain Conference. The talk was centred in two main ideas that we are in a client era and that the machine era is starting. He makes a clear statement, that in order to create better Customer Experiences it takes more than beautiful UI. We need data intelligence, integration with artificial intelligence and clearly a new mindset. Adding that the world is not changing it has already changed. As an example he showed how companies without any physical assets gain millions, companies like Uber, AirBnB, Spotify and Netflix.

I think one of the biggest fears about AI is if it will surpass us soon, and eventually we will all be killed or controlled by it. Méndez Soto clarifies this issue, he compares the human brain to a processor, assuring us that we still need to understand the human brain connections much better in order for such scenario to come true. But he also makes clear that in the next twenty years this area will develop as much as it has developed until now. To prove his point he showed how the prices in technology have changed abruptly in few years, taking Drones as an example, their cost per unit was around $100K in 2007 and only six years later their cost drop to $700. The same with 3D Printers, sensors, smartphones and so on.

To make his point on how data without scientific approach is nothing but noise he presented six data graphs. The first Graph had a population of one million and in the last 500 million, it was beautiful how the pattern became so clear. So for the ones who still have doubts I think his talk showed pretty well that “Big Data / Data Centric = Customer Centric”.

Soto, O. M. (n.d.). [AI2X Artificial Intelligence Improved eXperience]

To close the morning UXSpain choose the brilliant Beatriz Belmonte, Service Design Director at Fjord Madrid with “Sistemas y ficciones” (Systems and fictions).

We really enjoyed her presentation and invited her to contribute to our blog, so I will try to not spoil that for you. Anyways I have to leave you with her Dieter Rams updated sentences. For those who do not know Dieter Rams, he is one of the greatest designers alive, he was an industrial designer at Braun and the father of the ten great principles that every designer should follow. Beatriz took those ten principles with a 2017 digital designer mindset:

“Good design is innovative disruptive.
Good design makes a product useful addicting.
Good design is aesthetic A/B testing.
Good design makes a product understandable collect data.
Good design is unobtrusive notifications.
Good design is honest agreeing to the terms & conditions.
Good design is long lasting temporary.
Good design is through, down to the last detail a prototype.
Good design is environmentally friendly a chatbot?
Good design is as little design as possible pleasing your shareholders.”

After lunch the stage was taken by Martín Álvarez-Espinar from W3c, with “La Web ha crecido y ya es mayor de edad ¿Ahora qué?”. (The Web has grown and is of legal age. What now?)

To be honest this was one of the talks I was really waiting for, as it's my belief that W3c developed standards and tools to create good experiences. Unfortunately most companies do not follow these standards or have any concerns with accessibility issues. It was great to have Espinar explaining for such a crowd the evolution W3c had along these years and that we should all aim for an open and universal web.

Next was Javier Vélez, leader of technological development for front channel architecture at BBVA talked about “Un Mundo Orientado a Componentes” (A World Oriented to Components).

Vélez presented how internet interaction used to be and how it is today. Explaining that web nowadays is completely oriented to actions, most of them emergency actions. That it is a communication media able to provide social interaction and feedback from clients. Unquestionably it has a multichannel access, for all of these reasons we need a homogenous and continuous experience and the only way to achieve it is with a set of well structured components.

Ironically before the coffee break, after discussing at lunch the state of nature and society with my trip companion Daniel Vicente, Sergio Estella enters with “UX for Impact! Data and design in everyday life”.

Sergio has co-founded Vizzuality, a Spanish data visualisation firm, and has clearly made his point at UXSpain 2017. There is so much Data, finally someone develops something to slap faces!

Wanna watch earth? The ground, the water, the fires? Go to globalforestwatch.org you can see an interactive map with all sorts of data or search by country. At least try the “tree cover” and the “tree cover loss” filters on the map! I was thankful for that moment, UX designers thinking about earth. As he said “Actuar e Impactar” (Act and impact).

The end of the day arrived with Nacho Gil who brought serious questions with plenty of humour in his talk “Estudie informática por correspondencia. Una profesión con futuro” (Study computer science by correspondence. A profession with a future). Gil discussed his concern about UX from the study to the practice of UX. Applauded continuously.

The second day started with Brendan Kearns, Product designer at Invison , with “Giving in doesn't mean giving up”. Brendan opened the conversation with a simple line “Purism kills innovation”.

It was funny to understand that in a moment of weakness all of us had said the sentence “ the client doesn't get it”. Brendan basically mentions all the aspects that make us dive into frustration. For starters the fact that many of us are not working alongside the client, attending meetings that would make us understand the scope of projects, or being involved from the beginning of the project. That sometimes we are instructed to design something without the liberty to actually “design”, as well as the discrepancy on payments between UX designers and Front-end developers. I think we all felt this in several projects, his advice may seem very basic but the truth is that we forget these things quite frequently, we are the ones that have to show value in our work, as he said “marry your metrics”, and fight for independence. It's awesome to work in a company that gives you these things, I have the luck to belong to a company that gives me plenty of freedom, but for those who do not, take his advice and fight!

During the morning there were five more talks, Júlia Ivorra with “Investigación de usuarios en la BBC, un caso práctico con impacto” (User research at the BBC, a case study with impact). Rosa Lopp with “Aproximación crítica al diseño de interfaz” (Critical Approach to Interface Design) who reminds us that interfaces have other purposes beyond their main functions such as creating emotions, and that they make part of a cultural context but above all, they can shape that context. Ana Ormaechea with “Diario de Cuba: Cómo distribuir contenido si cierran tu web” (Diario de Cuba: How to distribute content if you close your website). Laura Garcia-Barrio with “De Silicon Valley para el mundo: diseño de producto para el mercado global” ,(From Silicon Valley to the World: Product Design for the Global Market) and Luis Arnal, co-founder of INSITUM on “Falacias, sesgos y engaños, las nuevas herramientas del diseñador” (Fallacies, biases and deceptions, the new tools of the designer) who alert us that how we design is how things live, we are the ones creating interactions. Below is a picture of his presentation that says it all.

Interactions Framework model

In the afternoon Mario Martín (@hydrosound) Senior Graphic Designer, Creative and UI/UX Expert at Accenture explored a huge topic in his talk “Al servicio del Mal” ( in the service of evil) the Dark Patterns issue.

“Dark Patterns are tricks used in websites and apps that make you buy or sign up for things that you didn't mean to.”                                     


We are surrounded by this Dark Patterns, and most users do not even notice them, but it is our job as Good UX/UI designers to avoid building such traps for our users. Mario gave us numerous examples such as windows 10 update design, where we can not seem to find a way to avoid such update. The forced subscription of HBO, that by the way is the same in Netflix, where the user has 30 day free trial but has to insert credit card info. Ryanair's misleading buttons and so on.

He explains the issue in a very simple way, a good UI cares about the user even if it does not bring as much money as wished, dark patterns trick users, legally, for the sake of their company profit.

As difficult as it may seem a UI designer has to stand between these two borders.

Mario encourages us to report theses issues when we notice them as well as to be actively against them by conducting our profession properly and by writing about it.

Leaving us with a famous sentence known by many as a Uncle Ben (Spider Man) line but that actually comes from Franklin D. Roosevelt “With great power comes great responsibility.”

So lets think and act accordingly, the world is in need of super heroes!

Followed Wences Sanz, Senior Design Fellow at Everis, with “Buscando la imperfección” (searching for imperfection). Alerting us for the excessive minimalism and the quantity of similar websites that are now in the web, creating no emotion and leaving us no memory of them at all.

Just before the break was Danny Saltaren's turn, he is a Product Designer and Co-founder of Mendesaltaren. Choose to open his talk with “lo importante es molar” which could be translated to “The important thing is to like”.

Saltaren talked about his path as a designer and belief in the importance of a design system approach. To think about the overall requirements to develop a product, from marketing to design to the final development, expressing the need of documentation and metrics to be successful.

Leaving us with tools to help the process like React Toolbox, a compilation of components with google material design specifications, whose website is being redesigned by Saltaren.

After coffee and to finish UXSpain 2017 was Maria Alonso Raposo, Scientific / Technical project officer at European Commission with “Yo, Driverless Car. Reinventando la experiencia de conducción” (Me, Driverless Car. Reinventing the Driving Experience).

As I imagine you are already tired of reading, so I leave you with her talk. (Please use headphones. Video is in spanish.)

We hope you enjoyed this post and wait for you in the next UXSpain!

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