Making a difference: ideas from UX New Zealand 2022

5 min read Kay Seatter-Dunbar

Making a difference through UX was a shared passion among an impressive line-up of 7 researchers, strategists, and designers from the global UX community at this year’s 100% virtual 3-day UX New Zealand conference.

We introduce them, highlight what they had to say, and share their full video presentations.

1. From bombs to bots: the evolving landscape of frontline research

These days Darya Pilram, Senior Researcher at Twitter, spends her days trying to understand the motivation and techniques of groups who ‘hire’ technology to spread harmful narratives.  The desert of Mogadishu and the urban conflicts of South Africa are just some of the unlikely places she’s leveraged the power of frontline research to create change.

“I realized the only way to influence change was by bringing folks along with me – and so I did.  I bought them right into the field with me.”

2. Beautifully accessible: why embracing inclusive design shouldn’t hold back your creativity

Experience Designer Beth McPhail refuses to buy into the mindset that ‘accessibility is a creativity killer’. She challenges her peers to view accessibility as an opportunity to grow creatively while making technology more inclusive.

“Accessibility is making it possible for someone to attend the party…and lose themselves in the music.”

3. Innovating within the Justice sector | Part 2: For a fairer start – design’s role in shaping mana enhancing social & systemic change.

Kelsey Gee is back challenging designers across all levels to think differently about how design can be used across different mediums and constraints to generate meaningful experiences and meaningful change.  In this session, she explores design’s role in creating empowering experiences that break both cycles of crime and institutional racism. (If you missed Part 1 from Mini Con head over here)

“I truly believe that our superpower lies in our ability to redesign society, especially for our whanau and our most vulnerable communities…and once again explore design’s role in creating equal opportunities across safe, seamless, and healing public services.”

4. First do no harm: make your designs more trauma-informed and survivor sensitive

In 1985, a researcher botched an interview question which led to a new understanding of trauma and its long-term effects. It grew awareness of the need to be trauma-informed in your work but what’s it actually mean?  UX Researcher Melissa Eggleston explores what it means to be trauma-informed and shares practical advice on how to achieve it.

“Trauma is everywhere and something for us to think about…regardless of whether we’re working with people we know are dealing with traumatic events…it’s really all over the place.”

5. Changing the way we design high-risk products to make meaningful impact

One in five people experiences “mental illness or significant mental distress” in New Zealand.  It’s a problem the Government knows needs to be addressed but how? In her powerful presentation, Rachael Reeves reveals what’s involved in balancing the complexities of Government with the need to rethink the way we design health products.

“Be warned you can’t please everyone and it can be tough to keep product vision aligned when you’re talking about serious consequences for people.”

6. Remote research with new internet users (yes you can!)

One billion new internet users (NIU) will come online for the first time over the next 5 years. These NIU’s are using their first smartphones, with most of their online activities focused on communication, maintaining social connections, and entertainment. Tiane Lee, UX Research Lead at Google outlines the challenges and considerations behind adapting research for varying levels of digital literacy, including practical ideas for planning and conducting remote research with NIU.

“NIU’s are typically less digitally literate, they may show lower confidence in digital capability, and they may perceive lower value of the internet for things like chatting and entertainment.”

7. Conditions Design: weaving the invisible threads of service design, value orchestration, and culture building  

Michael Tam introduces us to the niche field of conditions design and cites a purpose built high diving board on Wellington city’s busy waterfront in New Zealand as a good example of conditions design.  Find out why in this fascinating talk.

“What really impressed me here…hats off to the council because they didn’t design an experience that would discourage people from doing it. It’s designed for people to have fun (vs Hong Kong where public spaces are designed for Tai Chi not fun like this). The design allows it to happen by influencing human behavior to stay safe but encouraging fun and exploration.”

For a taste of what even more speakers from UX New Zealand 2022 had to share, head over to our highlights reel