Experiences of a Tight-Knit Design Team at MWUX 2017

Cincinnati skyline

‘The Queen City,’ ‘The Queen of the West,’ ‘The Blue Chip City,’ ‘The City of Seven Hills, and ‘Cincy,’ you guessed it, Cincinnati was the host of this year’s MidwestUX Conference (MWUX). This is the third year the CQL design team has had the opportunity and privilege to attend the Conference—and boy was it a good one. Here is a little bit about the conference, why our team gets pumped every year to attend and some of the shenanigans that tend to happen along the way.

More than a Conference — Camaraderie and Connection

Every year our team looks forward to soaking in the amazing content MWUX has to offer—user research techniques, cultural awareness, A/B testing methods, and much more. Beyond inspiration, what we really get out of the conference is camaraderie and connection within our team. Throughout the year, we strive to keep design conversations going, introduce new ideas, and learn from one another. This is not always as easy as it seems. As designers, we immerse ourselves in our customer’s projects to understand their needs and feel their pain points so we can create meaningful solutions. As we ramp up on projects, we occasionally find ourselves in silos as everyone heavily engages in their projects.

MidwestUX is our opportunity to step outside our daily commitments to our customers, and celebrate what we love in design.

Experiencing MWUX Cincinnati 2017

Dresses, suits, and rainbow fountains. To kick off our weekend of creative rejuvenation, we decided to have a fancy night out. We do not just design good-looking interfaces we clean up well too!

The CQL Design Team at MWUX 2017

Hello Blink Cincinnati. Between conference activities, we noticed there was definitely something happening within the city—lights and attractions filled the streets, parks, and buildings. Cincy’s annual Blink Festival was ramping up. Here is just a glimpse of what Micaela and Abby came across in a nearby park—a luminaria by the Architects of Air.

A Luminaria by the Architects of Air

Crashing the stage. Day Two started with Laura and myself crashing the stage for the opening keynote. This was actually part of an initiative called #upfront. Upfront allows aspiring speakers to sign up to sit on stage while a speaker presents. This allows participants to get the feel of the stage without the pressure of presenting. What an experience this was. The initial walk onto stage and introductions were definitely the most intense. Everyone could see us, we could see them, we were being introduced by name, there was no hiding. Ten minutes in, we were able to relax and actually enjoy the rest of the 50-minute experience. #upfront was a big step forward in the quest for public speaking prowess.

Laura and Brandon on Stage for the Opening Keynote

UX is coming of age — what we are seeing. Over the years, topics at the conference have shifted and evolved alongside the industry. We have seen earlier conferences revolve around user research and prototyping shift to storytelling and solving wicked problems. Now we are seeing more emphasis on culture, empathy, and responsible design.

Themes this year. This year, like others, have a few underlying themes woven throughout the messages. This year we noticed themes around empathy, collaboration, AI, responsible design, and user testing.

Designers more than ever need to own the platform for keeping humans at the center of technology and focus on empathy to create culturally responsible solutions.

Human-Centered Design

This was just a glimpse of what we soaked in this year.