On Friday 21st July 2019, I attended Collaborate Bristol – A UX and design conference. This is the second time I’ve attended this conference and, like last year, I learnt a great deal from it. I am normally so focused on software testing, it is easy to forget the importance of the user experience. I definitely encourage others to research alternative subject areas that may offer a different outlook to your main interests.

I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on the front cover of the program – in a photo taken of the audience last year, you can just see me on the second row.

In total there were 8 talks on varying topics. In this blog post, I am going to start by writing what I learnt from the first 2 talks – by Onkardeep Singh and Juliana Martinhago

Being passionate, not precious, about your work
Onkardeep Singh MBE

Passion – intense desire or enthusiasm for something
Precious – something that is of great value that must not be wasted.

This first talk explored the workings of the mind. As someone who has always struggled to understand the basic concepts of psychology, I fear this talk may have gone a little over my head. However, it was still an interesting talk and I’m going to do my best to provide my own interpretation.

During this talk, Onkardeep asked the audience a couple of questions:

  • Thoughts and feelings com before an action – true or false
  • Humans are unique because we are in control of our thoughts and actions – true or false

The responses to these questions were mixed. The truth is there is no concrete answer. It is quite common for someone to consciously think before they act, however there often comes a time where that same person might run on autopilot. Sometimes we have control over our actions, but not always – mistakes can happen.

Our actions may be better explained by what is most important to us. If we detach ourselves then our actions aren’t affected as much by our thoughts. When we see something as precious, we see it as being of great value. If we see something as valuable, then we are more likely to have strong thoughts and feelings about it. These thoughts and feelings can affect the way we act. By distancing ourselves from something, not seeing it as precious, we are less likely to have that strong reaction.

We need to be passionate about our work, and have that intense desire for things to go well. But we should avoid being precious about it, so that we don’t react too negatively when things go wrong.

Building great products and successful teams
Juliana Martinhago

Juliana is a product designer at Monzo – a banking app which I’ve never used and knew very little about until this talk.

Monzo was presented being a bank that aims to make banking easier, removing the normal frustration associated with traditional banks. This is achieved by having a strong focus on improving the user experience.

At Monzo, the teams are made up of ‘squads’ – small teams with a shared goal. They are formed around outcomes instead of features. This seems like a good idea as the feature may fail to achieve the desired outcome. Focusing on a outcome means that alternative ideas can be explored.

I can’t remember if the Spotify model was mentioned or if its used at Monzo, however I do know that this also uses ‘squads’.

They start each stand-up by asking the question: What is the most impactful thing we can do today to achieve X? This allows a backlog of ideas to be developed that could be used to achieve what ever X is (the outcome).

One feature available in Monzo is the ‘labs’. This is used to test new features. The user is able to switch on or off specific features which are still in development. Customers are aware that there the feature is still a working progress, but are given the opportunity to test it out early and provide early feedback.

The entire model used at Monzo is aimed at providing something meaningful for the customer, which provides a banking app with a vastly improved user experience.

I will continue publishing my write ups of the Collaborate Conference talks over the next couple of weeks. Next up will be ‘Falling between the cracks’ by Jon Fisher and ‘Web 3.0’ by Georgia Rakusen.