Learning from Failure at UXinsight Festival ‘21

Last week we joined UX professionals at the UXinsight Festival ‘21, sponsored by partners of the UXAlliance. This year’s theme – ‘Learning Through Failing’ – encouraged us to reflect that as researchers we are often willing to talk about our success stories, but how often do we look back at our failures and learn from them? Read on for our highlights – including the panel that Labs Director Mark Brady joined: ‘Global User Research: When Sh*t Hits The Fan!’

Image credit: UXAlliance

Image credit: UXAlliance

Day 1 kicked off with a talk from Remko van der Drift, Director at the Institute of Failure, who outlined what it means to be a Master of Failure and hinted at the themes that would be dominating the following days. Stephanie Pratt gave advice for companies bringing on their first UX hires and how to best build an inhouse UX practice – we loved her openness and honesty when she discussed her own past failure in building a UXR practice. Following lunch and an interactive Q&A session we joined ‘Man Eating Cereal & Other UX Stories – What Would You Do?’ where Gunjan Singh shared research experiences which could be viewed as ‘failures’, and highlighted the importance of storytelling in UX (even if it is to talk about failure!).

At the Labs we are well immersed in the world of AR & VR and loved Alexia Buclet’s Day 2 talk on ‘Designing An Immersive Menu For Augmented And Virtual Reality’.  Alexia talked through emerging AR and VR tech and potential areas for insights and growth in the field, as well as reminding us about the flip side of potential issues when bringing these technologies into the research sphere – such as making sure you ensure that the recruitment phase is well planned.  In the afternoon Mark joined a number of the UXAlliance partner companies in the panel: ‘Global User Research: When Sh*t Hits The Fan!’ Discussing how to plan to overcome issues when global research goes wrong, the panel shared insights on how to manage the complexity of global research, avoid assumptions, and make the best use of nuanced knowledge available via local partners.

The final day included short talks from UX research experts on lessons learnt through failure. We particularly enjoyed Yael Gutman’s talk on ‘Strategies To Avoid The Biases That Influence Our Research (We All Have Them)’, reminding us that as UX researchers it is our role to ensure that we gather data objectively and understand the user at hand. Tips for overcoming these inbuilt biases include the active listening technique, as well as augmenting qualitative insight with quantitative data to allow less room for bias. Another highlight of the day was ‘When Moving Too Fast Really Does Break Things’ by Vidhika Bansal who spoke about how this is particularly true in the current industry climate. Among other things, she reminded us to be mindful of diversity samples in order to use our work to better the world, and reduce adverse effects on marginalized social groups.

As you can tell we loved this year’s festival! The theme of failure encouraged self reflection and space to think about our past experiences, and what we can learn from these to improve the design of future experiences. The interactive and networking sessions were great and allowed us to chat with researchers from around the world and think outside of our norm, which will enrich our own research going forward. Thanks to UXinsight and the sponsoring partners for putting on such a great festival!

Finally, get in touch with mark@sutherlandlabs.com if you want to find out more about the UXAlliance and our network of global partners.

The Labs Team

Sutherland Labs