As a first-time participant on UX Camp Brighton, I didn’t have many expectations for the event. It seemed like a decent thing to do on a Saturday and it was a chance for me to get involved more in the UX community here in the UK. From what I’ve heard, the event’s open and casual nature makes for a good environment to meet people and make new connections. I was also looking forward to holding my own session on customer journey mapping and was a bit nervous about it, as I didn’t really know anyone there and was only hoping that it was going to be received well. Thankfully, my friend Xue came along, and while the train journey started a bit early for a Saturday morning, I was looking forward to an exciting day.
It all began with the “grid-scramble”, an activity in which all session hosts had to grab a card, write the title of their session, and stick it to an empty slot on the grid, corresponding to the time and the room in which their session was to take place. Not having seen the rooms beforehand, I gambled my luck on room 4 and the last time-slot available. That was it. From there on, it all seemed to move fairly quickly. There were 5 sessions going on at any given time and they were only 20min long, offering the participants a chance to listen to 8 different speakers during the course of the day.
I started my day with an intriguing discussion on introverts and extroverts hosted by Sophie Mitchell, where we learned that there were – including me – no extroverts in the room! While it might be true that introverts make for better UX researchers, that didn’t leave me with high hopes for networking opportunities. Next on my schedule was a talk on guerilla research techniques by Christopher Myhill, and after that, it was time for Xue Yin, the friend I came with, to present her project on micro-volunteering opportunities for Chinese students. The talk that followed was perhaps the highlight of my day – Jeremy Rosenberg described 3 lessons from psychology that UX designers could learn from. Adding to that a few other excellent talks given by Clive Lavery, Rob Pearson, and Fabian Hallstein, the day was almost over, and it was time for me to prepare for my workshop session. Luckily, everything I needed was readily available, in big part due to event organiser Patrick Sansom running through rain to get the magic whiteboard I asked for (thanks Patrick!)
I was slightly worried about the time limit, as 20 minutes sounds terribly short for a decent workshop. Despite that, the journey mapping exercise that I prepared turned out just fine and everyone seemed to enjoy it. We took the train ride to Brighton as an example and I asked the participants to map their experiences through different stages of the journey. They proceeded to brainstorm ideas for an app that would address some of the issues we uncovered in the process. With proposed solutions ranging from a more seamless ticket-purchasing system to a feature allowing travellers to pre-order a cup of coffee at the station, the results were better than I could have hoped for in such a short amount of time. I have to thank all of the participants, as the outcomes were greatly facilitated by their eagerness to engage in the exercise.
The day ended with a quiz and free beer for everyone followed by a trip to the Funfair Club for those of us that were in the mood to relax and mingle a bit more. It seems that the welcoming atmosphere arranged by the organising team was powerful enough to suppress our inner introverts, and I was able to make some new acquaintances that I hope to meet again next year or on other similar events. All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I would warmly recommend it to anyone interested in spending time with like-minded UX enthusiasts.