Nielson Norman Group (NNG) has been pioneering the field of user experience research for nearly 20 years. The organization hosts annual seminars around the world for individuals interested in honing their skills, keeping up with the latest industry trends and offers astute attendees the potential to earn valuable certifications in a variety of specialized fields. Uptop designer Juliette Pepperell made the trip to London this past November to attend a five day seminar delving into mobile UX.
What made you want to travel to London for the NNG UX Conference?
Apart from the fact that it was a chance to visit my father, who lives about an hour outside London, this event is a great opportunity to sharpen my skills, verify or challenge my assumptions about design and hear how other experts in our field are pushing the envelope.
What makes this particular event so valuable to you?
The NNG Conference is special in a few ways. Nielson Norman conducts their own extensive user research, so everything that is discussed is backed up with data. I like black-and-white answers, and conducting their presentations this way leaves nothing to the imagination. You can also obtain certifications in a given area of study. I stacked my coursework heavily towards mobile design and qualified to take NNG’s exams to receive a specialized mobile certification at the end of December.
Which courses did you attend?
Each day you attend courses from 9 to 5. Overall, I attended five different classes. Day 1 covered the essential usability principles of mobile web and app design. Day 2 was about scaling user interfaces. Days 3 and 4 covered visual design for mobile and tablets. Jakob Nielson himself gave a keynote lecture after that class. On Day 5, we learned about the human mind and usability, discussing the psychological reasons behind how a user interacts with a user interface and how their behavior should inform our design decisions.
What were your big takeaways from the event?
I think the biggest takeaway from the event was how quickly UX is changing in the mobile space. The information presented at the conference was all very current and reflected how users constantly demand more from their devices but continue to expect top shelf user experiences. Studies are being conducted all the time and the things we learn from them are always evolving. As a UX designer, the challenge of always being up to date is exciting and one of the reasons I love coming to work every day.
What wasn’t covered that you would have liked to hear more about?
There were many classes available that I simply didn’t have time for because I was so committed to taking courses related to mobility. Most of the subjects I would have liked to hear more about fell under the UX research seminars. Journey mapping and user interviews are two of the courses I would have liked to attend that I didn’t this time around.
Will you attend again in 2017?
I would love to attend next year and try to obtain another specialty certification. I will probably take the UX research courses to learn how to ask better questions during user testing. Plus, they’ve got conferences in San Diego and Boston—two places I wouldn’t mind visiting.
What can the things you learn at events like this do to help Uptop clients?
As an independent outside resource we can give our clients a different perspective. We can help our clients ask the right questions when conducting user testing, or find problems with their design they didn’t even know they had. The great thing about the NNG conference was that all their assertions and strategies were backed up by tangible data. Uptop can apply tested UX design principles to achieve the optimal results.