Web Services

UX Scotland = best user experience

I woke up early and hopped on the train to Edinburgh for an unexpected ride UX Scotland. Steve on our team sadly didn’t make it. I jumped at the opportunity. Rereading my notes and rewriting them was a useful reflection exercise. While they certainly won’t do justice to the speakers’ talks and seminars, I hope you can glean something from the summaries of what I learned from them.

Embrace the mindset of complexity

One of the topics Gerry Scullion discussed in his talk was the challenge of making changes in complex environments where outcomes can be unpredictable. An important aspect for me was to allow room for experimentation, testing and iterative changes with feedback. While a simple change can be quite predictable, in complex environments we often don’t really know what’s going to happen. We must recognize the type of environment we are working in and realize that we must have processes in place that allow for rapid testing and feedback to verify that we are achieving the desired results.

Gerry also discussed how we need to be careful how we listen to each other. We often enter a conversation with a mindset that needs to be corrected or mitigated. When we work in complexity, we should listen to understand, recognizing that we cannot find the « perfect » solution on our own. We need to work collaboratively and allow room for a creative process of active listening, experimental change, and consistent feedback.

Persuasive visual storytelling in user research

Rashmi Kakde spent hours sifting through user research data only to find that stakeholders didn’t have time to fully understand the details of her insight. To engage people in the need for change, we need to be able to communicate the issue convincingly.

In one example, Rashmi used a storyboard to show the current user journey and any pain points people were experiencing. This has helped make complaints data relatable and human. See here the frustration this person is experiencing by booking this ticket.

Rashmi also shared examples of using graphs and user journey graphs that measure user satisfaction among other techniques. There are many different ways to tell stories, but for me a key aspect has been the importance of sharing a human narrative that helps stakeholders understand the experience of people using a service.

Discovery Continues: Holy Grail or Poisoned Chalice?

Neil Turner’s team had multiple weekly customer feedback sessions. Continue discovery! It looks fantastic.

As time went on, they started to find it harder to get useful information. Customers didn’t want to fill out a survey or meet all the time. They started talking to clients who perhaps weren’t really clients, but needed to fulfill the required number of interviews. They also didn’t have time to go through all the information and figure out what was important or what to do with it. They had quantities and a very high noise-to-signal ratio. A signal defined as something that suggests problems with a service that should be investigated.

They have changed their approach. They would no longer count how many people they interviewed! No, we will only measure the quality of insight they provide. They went down to a couple of interviews a month and then a couple more after that. The difference was that they interviewed targeted customers and asked them specific questions about their service that were actionable. Were you able to book a ticket? Did you have any difficulties? They then used this insight to improve the service and asked for further feedback to measure the effectiveness of the change.

Help! How can I justify the return on investment (ROI) of UX?

Lynsey Brownlow knows that spending time on user experience is worthwhile. But you had a group of shareholders asking questions, and you stayed on the sidelines. They wanted an amount, ideally a sum of money. How do you measure it? Lynsey looked at a number of different examples that demonstrate how metrics can be translated into financial estimates. For example, how improving a guide reduced the number of support calls or how more people bought a product after the checkout process was streamlined. If you know the hourly rate of your support staff and the average time spent on a support call, you can then realize an estimated savings by reducing the amount of calls.

To be able to measure an improvement, we need to fully understand the user journey and tell a story using data insight to explain how a change will improve the user experience and move a KPI (key performance metric). Lynsey also highlighted the benefits of sharing rather than duplicating work within an organization. For example, reusing search has informed customer experiences that work well elsewhere in the business.

Designing ethically: from imperative to action

Kat Zhon talked about the importance of considering a project’s impact on users and whether the action you’re encouraging is beneficial to them. Kat gave examples of companies that have designed processes focused on sales promotion that haven’t considered the impact of not explaining full service details and recurring costs. While their quarterly data ended up looking great, the impact on users who signed up for the service and the damage to brand reputation was considerable.

Kat stressed the importance of considering all the implications of a project and making sure you understand the cost to the user; be that time, money or their data. We must evaluate the ethical implications of what we are doing and not exploit the trust of our users.

Three additional steps have been suggested for the design process:

  1. evaluate – design goals are questioned for ethical issues
  2. Prediction: The design is tested for unexpected negative impacts on users
  3. Monitor: Regular feedback from users is collected


Participating in UX Scotland has been a rewarding experience. Key takeaways for me included: the importance of telling a compelling story, embracing experimentation, prioritizing quality insights over quantity, measuring value and success effectively, and considering the impact on people using the our services.