The UX Meetup Metropole Ruhr was hosted in the design center on January 9, 2020. The discussions between UX professionals and enthusiasts and the speaker, Ingo Waclawczyk, revolved around the following questions: How does communication work in the digital age? How do we make digital technology more “people-friendly”? At the UX Meetup, attendees were able to take part in an experiment with three different chatbots.
The UX Meetup is the only one of its kind in the Ruhr area so far – here we talk to the organizer Michael Jendryschik about how he came upon UX and the Meetup for the regional group.
M. Jendryschik: Even the simplest software can drive us crazy if it doesn’t work as we expect it to. The skill of the UX professional lies in designing software that helps people to achieve their goals and in such a way that the user experience is as positive as possible. As software becomes more complex and intelligent and more deeply embedded in our day-to-day lives, this task becomes more and more important. The UX approach consists of drawing up a set of initial conditions that place people center stage from the start. By “from the start” I mean right from the very beginning – from when the strategic goals, vision, and framework conditions for a product are first discussed; consistently and with clearly formulated questions from the perspective of the people interacting with the software.
Once it is clear who is performing which tasks with the software, which information and interaction is necessary for this, and what the underlying motivation is, a high level of UX is no longer an accident; rather, it is the result of a creative design process and skillful technical implementation.
The number of UX professionals – or “design thinkers” or “digital designers” or whatever else we call people who focus on people and their needs in the context of digitalization – is on the increase. More and more companies are hiring UX professionals or establishing their own UX departments. And rightly so! I really believe that UX professionals will be one of the most important professional groups in the coming decades.
Because no computer scientists or experts in artificial intelligence or big data and, unfortunately, very few product managers, are interested in relating technical possibilities to concrete use for a specific context. This is what UX professionals do and this is exactly what I have always wanted to do.
M. Jendryschik: While I was studying general computer science, I was already fascinated by the interface between people and software. I worked on this in the years that followed, initially by developing websites and online shops and later by managing web and e-commerce projects. In the early days, I worked at getit GmbH (many years before it was taken over by KPS) and later at itemis AG. In this role, working closely with the needs of customers, operators, and users, I recognized the potential of people-centered software development and wanted to do nothing else from then on.
In the years that followed, I gathered theoretical knowledge and practical experience in this area, both by becoming a certified usability engineer (Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology) and usability and user experience professional (International Usability and UX Qualification Board) and by working as a UX engineer and consultant in software development for various companies, customers, and projects.
Speaker Ingo Waclawczyk and organizer Michael Jendryschik at the UX Meetup in the design center at Lake Phoenix
M. Jendryschik: Interactive applications are being used more frequently and developed continuously, in ever shorter cycles. Software is integrated into every part of lives and has become an essential part of our work and leisure, whether at home or on the road. We encounter digital transformation in all areas of the economy. New devices with innovative interaction models appear at ever-shorter intervals, for example, the Apple Watch or voice-controlled systems such as Amazon Alexa. How can you be expected to manage all this on your own?
Nowadays, more than ever before, we need stable networks to exchange ideas and experience. We need to be surrounded by other people who are dealing with the same issues and with whom we can communicate. We look for people who can give us fresh ideas, or perhaps first bring some order to our thoughts. We want to find a common benchmark for quality and a shared understanding of processes and methods – and we simply want to enjoy working with like-minded UX professionals. The German UPA (German Usability Professionals Association) is a good place to start and offers working groups, regional groups, and regional group meetings.
Some years ago, I wanted to go to one of these meetings in the Ruhr area but discovered that there was no active group in the region. So, I set one up myself – UX Metropole Ruhr. Our goal is to practice and promote user experience, usability, and design in the Ruhr area.
The UX Meetup Metropole Ruhr takes place regularly in changing locations and offers opportunities for networking and exchanging ideas in a relaxed atmosphere. Anyone interested – from absolute beginners to senior managers or software developers – is cordially invited to discuss UX, products, and design with us.
M. Jendryschik: At every stage of my career, I have taken on “interface roles” – at the interfaces between design and development, customer requirements and technical requirements, or management and operational teams. Once you take a holistic view of UX, the entire process, this is inevitable; especially in well-functioning teams or companies with a high degree of UX maturity. This is what drives me: helping teams and organizations to develop better products and services by supporting them every step of the way towards achieving maximum user centricity.
M. Jendryschik: I would definitely recommend the “Mensch und Computer” conference series every year. Featuring four days jam-packed with countless workshops, tutorials, and talks, it is like an annual “class reunion” for UX professionals from the German-speaking regions.
The next conference will take place in Magdeburg in early September and I will be there again this year.
You should have a fundamental understanding of what UX is and the value of person-centered development – not only for end users, but for everyone, including service providers and manufacturing companies. No other activities generate a higher return on investment than UX activities. Once you have internalized that information, the rest will follow.
At this point, we would like to thank you for holding the Meetup at our premises and for granting us this interview.
More information on UX will be available soon in this blog...