A reflection: NexUX Camp / by Ricky Hopper

We reflect on the beginning of our collective - nexUX Camp. This was the event where we gathered a range of industry leaders and UX practitioners to set the direction of our work, and provide their insights into what we could one day become. Speakers included Ross Teague (Senior UX Manager at Allscripts), Chris Paul (SVP Design at LPL Financial), Santiago Piedrafita (Associate Professor in NCSU Graphic Design), Patrick McGowan (Principal at the Service Design Group), Rajiv Ramarajan (Senior UX Manager at SAS Institute), and Christian Holljes (Professor in NCSU Industrial Design). Below, we’ve summarized the major results of nexUX Camp.

When forming a community of any kind, you need a shared mission to unite the members of the group. NexUX is no exception, and a major goal of nexUX Camp was to ensure we all knew what we were striving for. Part of our mission became very clear right away: there was a large amount of ambiguity surrounding the phrase “user experience.” What is it? A more advanced version of Human-Computer Interaction? A heavier focus on design? (We like to think of user experience as the broader impact of technology on individuals and society, but it’s still up to some interpretation depending on who you talk to!)

This ambiguity inspired us to think of what we could do as a group: form a community, deliver UX expertise, and advance the field of user experience.

It’s daunting to outline everything you’d like to become at once. As we generated ideas, we began split the challenge into four parts: what we want to achieve, what we want to eliminate, and what we want to preserve, and what we want to avoid becoming. Sorting our ideas into these four categories helped us understand our greater vision, and create a mission based on our goals:

  • Achieve: Establish an all-inclusive group, including academics, industry professionals, government workers, and members of various cultural/professional backgrounds.

  • Eliminate: Egos, exclusivity, and ignorance of user experience as a discipline.

  • Preserve: Experimentation, an open and comfortable environment, and a drive to grow and adapt.

  • Avoid: Becoming too academic, alienation of non-designers, and tying ourselves to a specific location.

We concluded nexUX Camp by forming a plan of action going forward. One part of this was figuring out how to understand which problems in the field most need solving, for which we evaluated groups with the most to gain from our research. We also discussed what we could produce as a tangible result of our work - this culminated with discussion about prototyping practices, and how to focus prototypes to prove specific aspects of any given theory.