EVENT REVIEW // Don’t make me Drink: The True Spirit of UX Australia

By Zoe Murray


Having the opportunity to attend UX Australia for the first time was something that I knew not to take for granted.

Even the online booking of my flight seats to Brisbane proved to have some ‘usability issues’ and in the end I swapped with another passenger to improve her on-flight experience by sitting next to her friend. I then started to conduct my own ethnographic research to pass time and began to look down the aisle at the man who “won’t sit down” twisting his feet, pacing like he’s on a long-haul flight, the kids throwing sweets and colouring books, and the woman who wouldn’t leave the plane until she finished her edition of Women’s Weekly. Humoured by all of this, I began scribbling in my notebook and it soon became important to think about what I want to learn at the conference rather than anything else.

Whilst I have good experience in hiring across the multiple interesting facets of UX for different organisations, at no point did I want to sound like a Consultant caught in my own web of UX buzzwords. Individuals in this industry focus on designing better experiences for real people and it was obvious the true value is in what everyone can learn from one another. The amount of re-tweets, likes and shares during the conference was extremely encouraging to see and the positive energy was everywhere!

Spirits were clearly high on the pre-conference drinks on the Wednesday evening and the dark mood lighting showed the Sofitel to have effective Service Design as groups could not “stick together”.

Thursday’s opening keynote from Dave Gray clearly set the bar high with inspirational insights exploring the human side of change and innovation. This spoke about being able to get others and ourselves to change deeply embedded habits and behaviours and adopt new ideas. An interesting and interactive talk from Ash Donaldson from Tobias & Tobias and Michael McKenna from QSuper actually gave me a necessary wake-up call about how I should “think beyond the now” and understand how to manage money more effectively.

One of my personal favourite talks was from Meld’s Nova Franklin on Using Neuroscience to better understand, engage with and influence others using the “SCARF” model. This was an acronym that went to my head as much as the bubbles on the dancefloor later on did!

A special mention to Kayla Heffernan from Seek for providing us with an eye-opening look at how we should be truly designing for all users. Most of the audience were shocked at how many individuals in this world are subjected to prejudice design.

I learnt a lot from Freya Elliott from the CEC around applying design thinking to deliver successful organisational change. This is something I could relate to as MitchelLake continue to provide value by properly understanding the culture within businesses the tech and design ecosystem. If a business already has a great culture, we do not try and force this but we will offer support when needed. As Anthony Quinn rightfully put it, the best Design Leaders make sure that their teams are kept challenged, inspired to do their best work and they look to stay ahead of the curve themselves. No doubt a lot of hiring managers found value in Franco Papeschi’s effective presentation about growing a design team in a product-driven company.

There’s so much that can be said about other amazing speakers, the people I met and the general vibe those few days in Brisbane but I must restrict the words in this post. I’d encourage you to get in touch and chat further -- connect with me for a coffee or perhaps...no, don't make me drink!!