17 / 03 / 2021

The UX Conference


Dan Kinsella




Usually an in person event, this year’s UX conference (unsurprisingly) took place via Zoom!

Over two days, attendees heard from range of big names including Google, Uber Eats, Waitrose and Amazon as they talked through some of their most recent projects.

I was lucky enough to be one of the attendees for what was an interesting and informative two days.

Read on for a few of the speaker highlights as well as some top tips which may help with your next UX project.

Day One

Spora Health

First up was Spora Health, a US company whose mission is to help black people get the healthcare they need with a virtual app that can be used by both doctors and patients and provides an alternative to physically visiting a doctor’s office. A product which has been well received given the Covid-19 pandemic.

Take-outs and top tip: Spora Health focused on a huge amount of user testing to ensure the process and user journey was clear and easy to understand.

Their top tip: asking users to talk out loud to hear their thought process as they navigated the app.


Next up, we heard from Benjamin Hersh, Interaction designer for Google, who has previously worked for Dropbox. His talk was all around how to use UX writing to improve design.

Benjamin touched upon how everyone has an internal voice in their head. How things are written can impact how someone reads it, but using different typefaces can have an influence on this.

He referenced the Dropbox paper documents as an example of best practise. They use playful and inspiring copy, which still fits with the corporate brand voice.

Take-outs and top tip: Humanised copy can either be done really well or very, very badly. Ultimately, conversational writing has to be readable and realistic.

Top tip: read the copy out loud. What you hear is what the user will hear in their internal voice.

Rachel Ilian Simpson, UX Designer from Google, talked us through Design Sprints, a five-day process for
answering critical business questions through design, prototyping and testing ideas with customers.

Monday: Map
Tuesday: Sketch
Wednesday: Decide
Thursday: Prototype
Friday: Test

Process repeats if needed.

Rachel gave some practical methods to adopt and use for each stage of the process, which is thought to
improve efficiency but also replace the old defaults of office work with a smarter,more respectful and
more effective way of solving problems.

Take-outs and tips: Find out technical limitations and opportunities early on in the process.

Day Two 

Dice Games

Day two of Zoom talks introduced us to Nathalie Ek from the Battlefield team for Dice Games to explain how they utilise eye tracking, audio and voice over in game design.

Nathalie was keen to stress that UI is a compliment to the overall design, not a distraction. The smallest change can have an affect on the entire game experience.

Games have to be able to work without a HUD/UI so voice over and audio triggers are massively important. Some users will want to play the game with full HUD/UI and some without - but all have to get the same experience while playing.

Highlight: getting to see some good video examples of how they test their UI systems with and without UI.

Lowlight: not getting to play any video games ourselves!


Next up was Laith Wallace from Discovery+ who talked through how they design for a global D2C platform.

The focus was on data driven design. It's all about meeting the user’s needs. Laith recommends the Heart framework from Google (Happiness - Engagement - Adoption - Retention - Task success) as well

as tools such as Sigma which helps collaboration across different teams, offices and locations.

Take-out and top tip: Start with the place that directly impacts the money. It shows value in the design you're creating. If you can make more money for the company, they are more likely to invest in the design.


Duo Chloe Stephenson-Wright and Sebastian Brookhouse from Waitrose took us through how the food retailer has gone beyond A/B testing for UI design.

Their focus was on simplifying the process and making items clearer and shorter. Their approach is based on the belief that users don’t like reading too much copy on a site, as it slows them down in the process.

Take-outs and top tips: userbilityhub.com and usertesting.com are both useful sites when it comes to user testing and advice for designing with accessibility in mind.

Uber Eats

Finally, Femke Van Schoonhoevn from Uber Eats gave some insight on how to best organise your design documentation. Some benefits of which include allowing for cross functional alignment, capturing design rationale,

getting stake-holder buy in, good team ‘hygiene’ and creating next steps to work from.

Perhaps not the most exciting of subjects but a reminder that simple best practise when it comes to project organisation can be the difference in what makes or breaks a project.

On that point, I’m off to type up my notes!