Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

UXPA - Taboo UX

First event of the year and I nearly missed it due to trespassers on the Metropolitan line, but I got there in the end with a bit of a detour and I am really glad I did.

This UXPA event was titled Taboo UX so I had guessed it was not for the faint hearted, but to walk in a couple of minutes late to a talk about sex toys was a bit weird.

The first talk was by Matt Curry and Jesmond Allen who work for Lovehoney which is a company who sell sex toys. As I walked in Matt was telling the group how it has been proven that married couples who use sex toys are much happier and have more active sex lives than those who do not.

Matt's issue is how do you make it easy for people to find the things they will enjoy when most people do not know the difference between a vibrator and a dildo. As a beginner some of these things look pretty scary!

They used normal UX research methods like talking to users and looking at Google Analytics to help them work out what new users need.

Interestingly they found that one of the biggest barriers was people getting permission from ther partner to get one, but there is not much they can do about that.

They ended up creating two landing pages. One for new users which they would see for their first three visits and one for returning customers showing more advanced toys.

We then stopped for a break, but this was no normal break but a card sort.

The Lovehoney team had bought photos and examples of their products and wanted us to give them words or phrases for them, as they find it hard to give them titles which are not industry specific, a problem we have at Wiggle too. It was an eye opening task.

Our second speaker was Jonny Rea-Evans, talking on Design, Death and Sex (Workers).

This was a fascinating talk about how you design for positive social impact when you have no contact with the group you want to help, in this case sex workers.

Working with several charities, his team have created a secret app which sex workers can use to alert other sex workers to men in their area who might mean them harm.

It has to stay secret due to safety concerns for the women using the app.

In this case the real issues were getting these people to trust the team enough to open up and then help them test the app. After all getting this wrong could get someone killed.

His key learning was to be human when designing - it is not all about conversion.

In the Q&A session I asked ‘how do I find a company to work with who work on positive social change?’ He said ‘Don’t; try and do that where you work now’. I like that answer.

This was an eye opening event which I think might have changed a few perceptions.

What other taboos are there out there that we should be looking at? Who else would we rather not think about but who could really do with our help? These are the challenges we should really focus on.

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