Highlights shared by community members about one of the biggest User Experience events in the world
Interaction Latin America (ILA) is the largest User Experience conference in the world with an audience of 2,000 people. The event organized by the UX community always takes place in a different city/country, in 2018 it was hosted in Rio de Janeiro, in 2019, in Medellin, Colombia. This year, 2020, it will be in San Jose, Costa Rica.
ILA stimulates the discussion of topics related to interaction design and user experience processes. The contents are in 15 keynote talks, + 100 speeches from the community, and there are also workshops and hackathons.
Intending to share knowledge, some community members organize Redux ILA. An event held in several cities, by people who took part in the biggest event, to share what happened at ILA. It is aimed at designers and enthusiasts and it’s an opportunity to learn about what was discussed at Interaction Latin America by Design leaders around the world. In Curitiba, the event’s Redux took place at CINQ Technologies and was attended by Ana Paula U. Holtz and Herico Prado who shared some content in the following text.
Ana Paula U. Holtz
To participate in ILA is already an experience itself. After all, this is a worldwide UX event organized by the community of UX designers for the community of UX designers. The ambiance, lounges, and music are part of the package – which in Medellín had the bonus of Colombian coffee distributed abundantly.
Near the city, Colombian designers handled to welcome and celebrate ILA at home. What turned into a joyful, colorful and human event. Angela Guzman gave the inaugural lecture, she told her journey as a designer in Silicon Valley and introduced the theme of female leadership in design – present throughout the event – as Carolina Sepúlveda and Mariana Valenzuela addressed in a specific panel. Maritza Guaderrama address the issue throughout her speeches, the main point was the future of design. “The future of design and the design of the future” has led the public to some dilemmas of making UX today, as letting go of the perfect user journey and looking for solutions to scenarios of uncertainty and friction. Maritza presented works from Latin American designers and ended her speech with advice from designers from around the world to the ILA audience.
Jason Mesut highlighted the challenges, ups and downs, of UX’s career in “Shaping Designers”. A dive into the design profiles and great contribution from Jason who is very active in the community. In the lecture, he talks about a specific moment in his career and the presentation of a project. Donna Spencer addressed the issue very well in her speech in a specific talk on how to present her design work. Jason and Donna’s talks are available here:
In terms of challenges and dilemmas, Joshua Seiden and Louis Rosenfeld also deserve to be mention. Joshua addressed the theme of his latest book “Outcomes over Outputs” while Rosenfeld tried to deconstruct some UX beliefs and jargon in the lecture “Moment Prisons” – that he transformed into an article, “Moment Prisons, and How to Escape Them“.
Leadership, dilemmas, women at UX were themes that permeated the event, as well as data protection, ethics and inclusion. These themes combined with more technical ones – like Design System – are building the face of UX today in Latin America. It’s because we are this broth of culture and problems, with unique characteristics, that looks and learns from Europe, Asia, and the United States, but also discards, creates and adapts what fits and is necessary for our yard.
In the various topics covered by ILA 2019 (and there were many), it would be unwise to highlight just one of them as representative of the event. But we will allow ourselves to commit such a sin. To synthesize the event in Redux it is necessary to make concessions. In this way, what can be extracted from the general atmosphere of the event is the concern with Design Operations (DesignOps), Data Security, ethics and inclusion.
About Design Operations, a term used to encompass design processes within an organization, Design Systems gained special attention. With highlights for the lecture “The challenges of building an inclusive Design System”, by Lucas Otsuka and Ana Cuentro, representatives of Quinto Andar, and “The challenges of creating the first Design System of the largest telephony in Latin America and structuring its Design Ops”, by Glauber Lana da Costa and Thiago Hassu, from the collective Meiuca.
The first discusses how Accessibility needs to be considered in the Design System’s construction. Ana Cuentro, who is hearing impaired, was the project’s UX designer and spoke about the challenges of uniting business needs with Accessibility. First, besides all the planning, it would be necessary for people with disabilities to take part in the development process. There is a phrase we learned from Ana and that is used by the class: everything about us, but nothing without us. Thus, it does not make sense to create an inclusive platform without including the user who will use it.
Meiuca brought the Mondri, Design System made for Claro. The keynote of the lecture was centered on the relationship between the business and the development team. We learned that Design System should be treated as a product of the organization and not as a simple project. That’s because a project is not always prioritized and sometimes is abandoned throughout the construction journey. Meanwhile, the product is seen as an integral part of the organization and there is no primary intention of discontinuing it. In this view, it would be necessary to get collaboration from several organizational sectors to efficiently construct the Design System, as the concept itself is collaborative. You don’t build a Design System alone.
Another important lecture was “Hypotheses and experimentation: enabling dialogue between the business and product team”, by Flávio Nazário. Regarding hypothesis validation, the speaker states that it is necessary to know which direction it’s been going, but it is essential to follow a path pointed out by previous research and to validate the hypotheses with users. There would be four questions to ask when validating something:
1. Validating the problem:
Is it worth to solve our problem?
2. Validate the market:
Are we building something that people want?
3. Validate the product:
Is our product solving the problem?
4. Validate the provision for payment:
Are people willing to pay for it?
These four questions would contribute to the best visualization and resolution of a problem to be solved.
A recurring term in several lectures was “Research Ops”, which can be defined as the mechanisms and strategies that set user research in motion. It provides functions, tools and processes needed to support researchers in delivering and scaling impact and creation in an organization. The process would guarantee, among other things, logistics for recruiting research participants, principles for documenting processes and consolidating research and support for the research environment. “Research Ops” is a team or person responsible for facilitating research practices.
Other important discussions at ILA were on ethics and inclusion. For ethics, the general issue referred to data protection. Recently, several scandals about leaking user data have surfaced around the world, which have been used for multiple purposes. The lawsuits around this issue bring together millionaire figures and call attention to services that store user data.
At the same time GDPR, the European data protection law, served as a model for the creation of the LGPD, the Brazilian general data protection law, which will be in effect from August / 2022. The new legislation will require a different concept of compliance and an experience that considers deleting user data, if it is desired. The design and the organization need to discuss together how they will treat user data when the law is in effect. In this sense, transparency is the word that guides the subject.
A point of attention regarding data is the possibility of using it in favor of the user. Artificial intelligence can play the role we don´t like and make our daily lives easier. Uber, for example, identifies the user’s location and proposes routes there. How we can use the data service in favor of the user is a gap to be filled.
These latter themes can be found in the lectures “Opti-Pessimism”, by Cheryl Platz, “Ethics in research: what are the current requirements and why should we be prepared?”, By Cecília Henriques and Denise Pilar, “Ethics in UX research: When findings harm the users”, by Rafaela de Souza da Silva and “Social business design for the inclusion of a prison population”, by Thaís Falabella.
As a future reflection, the event considered: the importance of paying more attention to user data and the legislation; inclusion as a fundamental concept that must be in the digital universe; artificial intelligence as an ally and not an enemy; and about collaboration remaining essential. The whole adds up, and the individual excludes. Reflects.
By Ana Paula U. Holtz – UX Design – Legal Innovation, and Herico Prado UX Designer.