Usability Day has been an annual event for Autodesk’s China Research and Development Center (ACRD) since 2011. The event is open to both UX designers and people outside our UX teams. Usability Day 2013 was held in November in our office in Shanghai.
The industry shift to cloud computing and mobile platforms has challenged our UX designers to think in new ways, and with a new focus. It’s more important than ever to bridge the gaps between different engineering teams across the company. Based on this, the Usability Day 2013 coordination committee chose these themes for the event:
- Connect and share best practices
- Extend and broaden the view
- Discuss challenges
- Inspire innovation
The day was comprised of 5 keynote presentations and 3 discussion sessions.
The first presentation was about the Autodesk Human Interaction Guidelines (HIG). The HIG is a set of user interface standards and workflow patterns created from the work of UX experts across Autodesk. Developers and designers use the HIG to quickly build products that have a coherent Autodesk look-and-feel. The HIG saves developers time by providing them with ready-made modules so they can concentrate on building the features specific to their product. Experiences that follow familiar patterns help users adopt products and concepts more quickly. But this is not about making every application identical; presenter Jay Behr made it clear that HIG characteristics “manifest across the product line the same way DNA manifests slightly differently across a family. The members are clearly part of the same family, but the specifics vary between siblings and generations.”
Total User Experience (TUX) was the next presentation. The idea behind TUX is that UX is more than UI design. UX designers must deliver a choreographed end-to-end user experience. The focus is not only on product design, but also covers business, platform, marketing and services – every moment of our customers’ journey. Presenter Tim Scanlon also introduced a consistent approach for designing, measuring, and improving the entire product experience.
Haipeng Liu hosted a discussion of Front End Design vs. Front End Development. As UX designers work on more and more cloud, mobile, and web-based products, some new and different skills are required. In some cases, the boundary between the designer and the developer becomes blurred. Communication and relationship building becomes even more important – as one participant said, a key element to successful collaboration is “making friends before working”.
A discussion on Gamified Design was hosted by Benjamin Kerslake. Gamification is the use of game design techniques & mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences. It strives to encourage users to engage in desired behaviors in connection with non-game applications. Ben gave some examples from his projects. The discussion focused on two main topics: In which areas could Gamified Design be applied? And how do you do user research for Gamified Design?
Usability Day provided a chance for the ACRD UX team to build local community, and also allowed non-UX team members to increase their design knowledge. It will continue to be an important annual event, with plans to extend it to Autodesk UX teams around the world in the future.