User experience at Handheld Conference

Last week I (Valentino) took a day out to attend Handheld Conference at St David’s Hotel in Cardiff Bay; an event organised by Craig Lockwood with the intention of sharing knowledge within the field of web and mobile design and bringing a bit of conference action to South Wales.

A handful of talented speakers talked through a range of interesting subjects from mobile and app development, what makes a great smartphone app, content management and book publishing. The speakers were a great mix of local industry talent and members of Facebook, Microsoft and Google’s teams along with leading names in app development and each one brought a passion and humour for their subject that made the whole day a delight.

Particular stand-outs for me included a superb collection of user experiences with everyday interfaces such as ticket machines, lift controls and drinks dispensers which highlighted that a lack of focus in design can lead to poor and often confusing experiences with such services. It was one of the most hilarious talks about what could be such a mundane subject delivered intelligently and passionately by Experience Designer Aral Balkan.

This particular talk was a great highlight for design thinking and the outcome for users of services. What seems to be a lack of common sense in such services as ticket machines can easily confuse us and make us feel a bit simple when enquiring to a nearby staff member about how to buy a ticket. If the service is not a necessity then bad experience could mean we don’t return to using the service.

Another highlight for me was a talk by Microsoft’s Creative Technologist Andrew Spooner who spoke about the value of putting ideas out there, and the people who can take an idea and run with it to create something incredible.

By the end of the day we’d got through 13 informed speakers, their Q&A sessions, some tasty food, and a small bag of goodies kindly put together by the host and event sponsors. The team will definitely have our names down for next year’s event.

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