I spent two days at Camp Digital: from 16-17 March 2016 in Manchester. It explored current ideas and perspectives within the user experience, design and digital communities. During this, I gained a better understanding of how to design for digital with a service focused lens. So, what happened?

Say yes to sketching

The first day was spent attending two pre-conference workshops: ‘Sketching: Thinking, Communication and Design’ with Francis Rowland and ‘Designing digital products for kids’ with Karina Ibarra from Arquinata.

As we grow older, we tend to become more self-critical about our own sketching and drawing abilities. With some simple sketching activities with Francis, I regained a greater sense of confidence in putting down my pen on paper.

There is great value in being able to present, critique and get feedback through quick sketches between teams. The more you do it, the more your confidence grows and you feel more comfortable doing it. The workshop inspired me to try something new: to sketchnote all the conference talks.

Camp Digital

On your mark, get set, go

The second workshop shared kid’s cognitive principles for the different age groups. They were then applied in a design sprint where we were to design a classic toy into digital product in 70 minutes. It was a fast-paced experience that condensed a typical 5-day sprint in a little over an hour.

Digital Superheroes

The conference day started with great energy as Julie Dodd shared what digital superheroes look like. Digital superheroes use technology for good. They design to really help people, are smart about using existing tools, not afraid to try things in new ways and are everywhere. We can all be digital superheroes.

Co-designing works

Another key learning was the idea of digital not about being a concrete thing. It is about “applying the culture, practices, processes and technologies of the Internet era to respond to people’s raised expectations,” as expressed by Tom Loosemore, Digital Services Director from The Co-operative Group. Digital should not be about creating more products. It is about designing an experience with the involvement, interactions and needs of people in mind.

Many of the talks highlighted common patterns. User experience design is nothing without research. It is valuable to involve stakeholders in user testing and journey mapping. Test, iterate, repeat. If you design for accessibility, you design for everyone.

Be adaptable, be patient

Design and technology is also always in constant flux. We might know something today but tomorrow it may become irrelevant and that’s okay. We need to be adaptable. This is so true for the web and what we do – it changes all the time. 

UX with a service lens

Sketchnoting all seven talks was fun and helped visualise what was learned as it was being absorbed. It was a different and active way of capturing and making sense of information. And this is what we do at Snook by bringing in a service design lens to our digital work.

We put users at the core: we codesign with stakeholders and involve them in the process. We help our clients understand how their organisation works and can support digital to ensure the work we do is going to help the people we design for. We are all on the paths of becoming digital superheroes and that’s inspiring.