Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

The BAD Conference

This year I signed up for User Research London 2020, but due to coronavirus it was postponed to next year. So when I found out about The Behavioural and Design (BAD) Conference I jumped at the chance to attend.

It basically meant a day sitting on the sofa with my dog watching fascinating talks about psychology, human behaviour and design. What could be better?

I am really interested in psychology and how it can affect the way people react to our designs, but I am quite new to the subject and my knowledge is based mostly on what I have read in books or blogs. So it was really great to spend a day listening to some experts talk on the subject.

There were too many talks to go onto everything here but these are my main takeaways.

First speaker Joe Leech started us off by suggesting that we should be skeptical of all research until we have done a bit of research on the research. He said it was unwise to start a new business or project based on one research study which has not been duplicated.

Next speaker, Nick Fine gave a really good talk breaking down what a good hypothesis is and how to test it. It was so nice to have someone go right back to the basics and not assume any knowledge.

Alexander Muir spoke on humanitarian design and the psychology of ‘seva’. This was all about how you deal with doing research with people who might live in extreme poverty or with extreme pain and get as much as possible from the research without harming yourself.

David Evans spoke to us from North America where it was 4.20am!! He spoke about the ethical maturity of companies and how we need to go from relationships with customers which are just about how many eyeballs saw a thing, to looking at the life value of the customer and how we can design for the whole person.

Elizabeth Churchill from Google gave a nice talk looking at how Material Design has changed and been shaped over the years.

And Susan Weinschenk finished the day talking about ‘5 things you need to know about people’ which included:

  • Confidence triggers decisions,
  • Mental models about tech are set at puberty,
  • We die without high quality social interactions,
  • People work harder, longer and better in teams and
  • Rewards are not very effective for long term change.

There were many other talks and a great panel session, along with opportunities to talk to the speakers and network with other participants at breaks throughout the day.

There were a few technical issues, but even when on site it is easy to have tech issues and mostly it was pretty smoothly. I had a great day and learnt so much. I am kind of glad that User Research London got postponed, otherwise I do not think I would have managed to attend BAD conference too.

Thanks to everyone who spoke and worked so hard to make it work as a virtual event.

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