Last week, we partnered with General Assembly London once again to host the Digital Pond. There was a great turnout and even better talks focussing on User Experience: Empathy in Design. So, what tips did our UX specialists have for the Ponders?

If you had to boil the world of user experience down to just one word, you’d be hard pressed to find one better than empathy. Excellent UX is all about empathising with your end users. How else could you create unforgettable UX that meets and exceeds the needs of your users? 

The answer is, you couldn’t. We guess you’ll just have to empathise a little more – sorry! Don’t despair though: at our latest Digital Pond, we enjoyed talks from:

  • Matt Gibson, Cyber-Duck Chief Production Officer
  • Lola Oyelayo, Own Your Own Experience Director
  • Ulrich Boulon, Burberry Senior UX/AI Designer

In each of their talks, these industry-leading minds showed how you can successfully empathise with your users in your design practices. Below, you can find more details about each of their talks, including full videos.

Matt Gibson: Evil UX

Opening the evening we first had Matt Gibson. In his highly anticipated presentation, Matt looked at how we can create exceptional user experiences by approaching ideation from alternative routes. The traditional approach involves trying to find the very best ways to improve experiences from the outset.

But that’s often difficult and debilitating for many companies, which is why you need a dedicated UX team. Matt’s advice was to come from the other end of the spectrum. Why not come up with your most terrible idea first? What’s the worst experience you could create for your user?

Matt Gibson discusses Evil UX.

Matt discusses how evil thinking and generating bad ideas can be the first step toward creating exceptional user experiences.

If you can act dastardly in this way, you stand to benefit in amazing ways. Not only do you get your bad ideas out of the way, but by having a bit of fun with it you can encourage more creative solutions to your users’ problems.

Then, you can create great techniques and strategies to avoid the poorer user experiences your bad ideas would create.

Be sure to check out Matt’s full talk below (and his slideshow here) to find out more about how Evil UX can help with your UX projects. You can also find out more about our UX services at Cyber-Duck here.

Lola Oyelayo: Empathy Building

Next up, we had Lola Oyelayo sharing her methods for building empathy in designs.

First off, she noted that without a professional whose sole role is to interrogate a user’s actual needs, you can fall at the first hurdle and fail to bring empathy to your designs. 

Lola Oyelayo gives her top tips for ensuring empathy in your designs.

Lola shares her insights on how to bring empathy back to the heart of your UX designs.

But that isn’t all: she also pointed out that your researchers need to choose the right research methods to discover what would someone genuinely do, not just what they say they would do. No one technique is a holy grail of empathy, so finding a researcher who knows the correct method is essential. 

To find out more about Lola’s top tips, you’ll need to watch her talk below!

Ulrich Boulon: Chatbots

Closing the night out, we were happy to host Ulrich Boulon for an exploration of chatbots, and how empathy is integral to their implementation.

A chatbot is a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence that you interact with via a chat interface. But people don’t like talking to what they perceive as just a ‘robot’. 

So how do you overcome this drawback? You simply use empathy to ensure that you create excellent user experiences, ones that users can enjoy rather than ones that turn them away.

Ulrich Boulon delivering his talk on chatbots.

'The future is now!' Ulrich walks the audience through the evolution of chatbots.

This is what lies at the heart of a great customer service, and our conversational user interfaces (CUIs) need to replicate this. We need insight to achieve that, so we must go out and conduct extensive research to see what users actually want. Once we know their needs and expectations, we can begin to build a user interface that meets those needs.

For more on how to create a chatbot and where empathy plays a role in its creation, you can follow and contact Ulrich on Twitter.

Join Us in Novermber

We really enjoyed the talks from Matt, Lola and Ulrich, and would like to thank them for their brilliant insights.

We’d also like to give a big shout out for our sponsors on the night, the photography firm Dare and Hier, who kindly supported us and photographed the evening. Likewise, as ever we’re indebted to General Assembly for sharing their space with us once again. If you’d like to sponsor upcoming Digital Pond events, be sure to get in touch.

Our next talk will take place in November, so remember to follow the Digital Pond on Meetup or Twitter for further updates!