Last weekend, we sent some members of SVI Manila to UX Summit 2015. They came back with some amazing insights and fun exercises for our team. Everyone has a lot of creative power locked up, and having ways to tap that inner creativity is really key for a top tier team.

Thanks UXMNL for staging such a fantastic event. Hope they continue to grow a culture of user experience thinking and product thinking in the country!

Pia

Many conferences are a dull succession of Powerpoint presentations -- but not #UXSummit2015. As a first-time participant in any UXMNL event, I was delighted at how engaging the two-day workshops were.

Sometimes it seems like good ideas happen by accident, but on the first day of the summit, we learned concrete techniques for encouraging out-of-the-box thinking on demand. UX expert Matt Magain led a whole day of fun, collaborative, hands-on brainstorming exercises.

My favorite was the Visual Impact exercise, in which we used images to spark ideas for solving problems. For example, you might be shown a picture of a group of monks chanting and ask yourself how those monks would solve your problem. The mental effort of connecting seemingly unrelated concepts can actually result in something unique.

Matt also taught us how to use SQVID, a visualization technique that involves coming up with 10 different ways to doodle a single concept. Each letter in the SQVID acronmym refers to two opposite ways of presenting something: simple versus complex, quality versus quality, vision versus execution, individual versus compare, and change versus status quo.

Working in tech often has you stuck in front of your computer screen but these activities required the use of tactile materials like paper, pens, and post-its. A refreshing change. These activities are almost a kind of creativity cross-fit -- short, challenging exercises which help break you out of your usual worn and weathered thinking patterns.

On the second day, information architect Donna Spencer discussed how to structure the content of your website in a way that make sense to people. At the beginning of her talk, Donna said wisely, “Design for people, not users.” That’s paraphrased, but it seems to emphasize that good design doesn’t treat people like one-dimensional beings, but rather, as flesh and blood human beings with diverse needs and ideas. Consider their context and purpose when they visit your website, and how you can better meet their needs.

Donna emphasized that user research is the foundation for any good design. You can't design information without somehow getting feedback from the people who use it-- whether through interviews, surveys, or group discussions. I couldn’t help but compare her approach with that of numerous government agencies (and yes, even companies) who get away with poorly designed websites. When a government website is so badly done it's nearly impossible to use, it's infuriating sign of the government’s lack of empathy for the people they are supposed to serve.

If UXMNL aims to train people to recognize and demand good design (a prerequisite to practicing it), then whatever they are doing has worked for me! I can't wait to learn more.

Clau

Attending UX Summit is really good. Since it's my first time to attend a UX-centric workshop and given that I'm a frustrated artist, I thought that I'll just fall asleep because it's all new to me. The workshops were informative and well-presented. The first day's workshop about the importance of innovation taught me as a developer to be more creative in designing apps and what are the different tools to help me achieve that and be a like great designer.

The second day's workshop about Information Achitecture is what I'm really interested about and enjoyed more. I find it more useful and related to my work since it focuses about how to organize content and how to describe them clearly and what people really care about. I also liked how the speaker divides the topic she will discuss and answer the participant's questions.

The activities are also enjoyable and interactive since you need to be working as a team, you need to interact with the other people in the table and come up with the idea needed to finish the activity. Overall, it's a really great experience to attend workshops, meet interesting people, learn and put what I learned to work.

Anj

UX Manila just did a fantastic job last weekend. As a UX Engineer, I can say that what they did was to equip each person there with techniques on how to think more innovatively without pressure and to replace misconceptions about UX with the real deal.

UX Summit 2015 was a one of a kind workshop in a sense that the presentations were very interactive. There was not a single moment that participants could fall asleep since there were activities from time to time. These were activities that trigger interactions within small groups and trigger each individual to think fast and extract the creative juices in his/her mind. I really love how they called the brainstorming activities as "games" that need to be facilitated and that require collaboration of the group. I love how such games can be so structured but at the same time so engaging and challenging.