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Books Community UX

Back to the books

Always good to get a new UX Belfast lineup secured.

It’s getting close to 10 years since I took over the bookclub that Design By Front established as a regular fixture in the Belfast design calendar.

I remember well the great evenings with a small bunch of design friends, all needing out over the book selection that month. It was a smaller affair then.

Since that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to welcome many of my professional heroes to Belfast (virtually, of course). The pinnacle had to be hosting Susan Weinschenk last year, with over 100 attendees. It has never been about the numbers, always about the content.

I try to be timely with the theme of each meetup. It’s a particular thrill to have Christian along right when his book is being published – and much-needed it is, too.

Emma is such a great leader in the local tech community, I’m really delighted to finally have the topic for her to appear at UXB.

Hopefully the last online-only event. We’ll see.

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Community

A model for self-reflection

I was fortunate to speak this week at the latest event from Ladies that UX Belfast, ‘The Winding Road to Design’.

My theme was growth through self-awareness, which featured a model for self-reflection adapted from the ‘Making-of’ model by Mikael Krogerus & Roman Tschappeler To reflect on any given situation (a project, an objective), think about:

  • What strengths did you bring? What qualities or experience did you draw on?
  • What support did you have? Was a particular person(s) involved? Particular resources?
  • What resistance did you meet? What challenges or obstacles were put in front of you?
  • How did you grow or develop? Was it incremental, or substantial?
  • For successful situations: what can you reproduce to achieve a similar result next time? What patterns do you see in successes you have had?
  • For unsuccessful situations: what factors need to change in order to achieve a different outcome? What have you been lacking, and how can you introduce what is needed?

Thank you to Ladies That UX Belfast for inviting me to speak, to all who attended and listened, and to co-speakers Anna Murray and Conaill Hyndman

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Books Community Teaching UX

UX Belfast, October 2021

Organising meet-ups has become a tricky business of late. After being all online for over 18 months, some are starting to get back to ‘in real life’ (IRL) events.

Not so UX Belfast! Still online-only, and hybrid events still feel a couple of months away. The generosity and knowledge of guests continue to be a joy, however.

How to design for everyone‘ saw New York-based designer, educator, and author Reginé Gilbert join us to talk and take questions on her accessibility work. As ever, our book club past meant that a book set the evening’s theme This time round it was Regine’´s ‘Inclusive Design for a Digital World‘.

My former Fathom_ colleague, and friend Marie-therese McCann then gave us an outline of work to bring focus to accessibility as an element of her role at ESO.

Reginé nominated America On Tech as our charity for this meetup. A donation was made to thank Reginé and MT for their time.

I had hoped this might be the last remote-only meetup before looking to a hybrid model going forward. Time will tell. Planning for 2022 events begins now. I’ll stay flexible on format and see how things stand early in the New Year.

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Community UX

UX Belfast, February 2021

Lockdown has added some new dynamics to meetups, not least converting local groups into potentially global events. I saw this first-hand, hosting UX Belfast this week, as attendees signed in from across Europe, North America, and UAE. 

This shouldn’t have been a surprise given our guest author was Susan Weinschenk, speaking to us from Wisconsin. Susan pioneered the incorporation of behavioral psychology as an element of user experience work and features high on my list of design industry heroes.

Our second guest, Tommy McClean (from much closer to home) delivered an insightful talk on the ethics and impact of products that thrive on attention and engagement. Frequently through design-driven habits.

I continue to be amazed at the generosity of guests, giving their time to pass on hard-won experience and wisdom to new generations of designers. This meetup certainly delivered on all those fronts.

An added bonus was speaking with one of the original founders of the UX Bookclub Belfast meetup, Jamie Neely of Monotype.

A donation to Susan’s nominated charity, the International Rescue Committee, was made in place of an honorarium. 

Lots to take away for those who attended – or indeed hosted!

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Community

‘She Rocks!’ Awards 2019

Last week I was stunned to receive a nomination in the Women Who Code Belfast ‘She Rocks!’ awards.

The Honorary Changemaker award was introduced this year “to recognise men who have actively committed to the advancement, sponsorship or championing the progress of women in tech. We rise by lifting others, and allies are a vital component in our mission to inspire women to excel in technology careers.”

I appreciate that these awards focus on recognising positive human qualities in and around the tech, making it all the more of an honour to be included. I hope that the decisions and actions across my career have been worthy of the nomination. And it’s a reminder to keep trying to be a better ally.