World Usability Day 2019 in Leipzig

Leipzig, Kupfergasse, just after eight in the morning. To the astonished passer-by on their way to work in the city centre, it looks like a scene just before a pop concert on a warm summer evening: a queue of clearly excited people has gathered in front of the Kupfersaal. If you look more closely, you may even be able to figure out what has brought so many people together on this Thursday morning. On some of the exterior walls and windows of the Dresdner Hof and the Schrödterhaus, there are signs revealing the occasion: it’s World Usability Day 2019 in Leipzig, organised by the UXD department of IT Sonix Custom Development GmbH.

Anyone with a thirst for knowledge will not be disappointed: while the last of the arrivals are still registering, the well-planned conference day starts with a veritable fireworks display of presentations and workshops, question and answer sessions and casual exchanges of ideas among like-minded people at the buffet.

Keynote speaker Matthias Laschke from the University of Siegen dedicates just under an hour to exploring the world of products from the perspective of the happiness and well-being they bring to – or, in some cases, take away from – their users. Other experts from German business and science give an array of presentations on the main stage while, simultaneously, highly motivated speakers hold workshops in the futuristic ambience of the neighbouring Schrödterhaus.

This year, for the first time, there is also the Business Track programme – a workshop aimed specifically at decision-makers from the business world. By trying out different approaches to designing a sample product, participants learn that understanding future users as early as possible and utilising appropriate observation and feedback methods can be highly significant for successful business – and this is what Business Track participants will now take back into their everyday working lives.

There is also an exciting afternoon on the main stage in the Kupfersaal: Tobias Limbach from Hillrom Surgical Solutions gives some insight into the world of designing medical technology products before Dr. Michael Minge from the Cognitive Ergonomics department of TU Berlin focuses on the success prospects of “Agile UX Product Design”, presenting ten central theories.

Richard Bretschneider from the UX agency eresult based in Cologne introduces an exciting topic that triggers a very lively discussion and Q&A session: he presents current developments related to machine learning and artificial intelligence. From very convincing looking fake photos, created by an AI with the help of a few input parameters, to monster cats with a critical social prognosis, there are lots of moments that make the audience marvel, murmur and also laugh, providing an impressive conclusion to the thematic part of the day.

During the lectures, something rather unusual is happening in the background: Graphic recording – illustrator Tiziana Beck listens to the lectures and observes what she sees in order to translate it directly into associative visual art. Within a very short time, she creates a sizeable collection of pictures that become lasting mementos of the day and which the speakers can take away as framed souvenirs. So in the future, many a university or company office wall will feature a picture commemorating 14 November 2019 in Leipzig.

Photograph: Robert Rosenberger from doksafe