Close-up picture of one of my sketchnotes from UX Australia

Sketchnoting at UX Australia 2013

I’m just back from this year’s UX Australia, with that post-conference fatigue-y headbuzz. There were tonnes of insights and trends to grab hold of, as usual, plus I’ve got a load of sketchnotes to share (below).

We’re all learning UX from each other

First and foremost, I’m noticing that not only is lean UX and agile/UX pairing becoming well-embedded techniques in both agency- and client-side, there no longer seems to be a traditional know-how flow from thinker/author > agency side > client side. Great thinkers and doers are everywhere now, and the flow is multi-directional. We’re all learning from each other.

Practices are great, but we can’t forget the principles and theory

This year there seemed to be much more attention on the techniques and practice of UX, whereas previous years it seemed to be more about mobile/contextual UX. I’d be concerned if conferences only focused on processes and practices, because we can’t short-change ourselves on UX thinking and design thinking. Techniques – and terminology of techniques – will come and go, but it’s essential that we keep sharpening our thinking about the principles of the experiences we create. In short: we still need to stimulate each other with more concepts and more theory, not just the doing stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, the balance was still there, especially with blending strategies with results and outcomes of UX practice (especially Katja ForbesUniversal design for touch, and Gabriel White’s Design at the edges¬†(plus here on slideshare)), but my stand-out fave talk by Andrea Resmini¬†really blew my mind: Navigation as cross-channel sense making (sketchnote below).

A sketchnote of Andrea Resmini's talk: Navigation as cross-channel sense making

In future…?

In future years of UX Australia – in response to my low-level concern and anxiety above – I’d like to hear more about how UX thinking and customer experience (CX) thinking are becoming paired disciplines. There is also quiet rumbling out there about architecture rediscovering itself and its purpose: designing places and spaces for people and not just for architecture magazine covers. We’ve been standing on the shoulders of architects since Day 1 of UX, and we have much to share with each other. Let’s hear more of that exciting stuff.


And ah yes, sketchnoting! I’m a big fan of sketching to explain, to think and to reflect, and it was great to meet and see Rebecca Jackson talk about her sketchnoting experiences. Below is my sketchnote of her sketchnoting talk… a bit weird really… but hey. And as an aside, Rebecca has posted some really great and useful summaries of the conference’s talks; here’s part 1 and part 2.

Sketchnote of Rebecca Jackson talking... about sketchnotes


It was also bloody excellent to meet Matthew Magain. I’ve found his drawing-to-explain mastery pretty inspiring in the past, and not only did he and Luke Chambers bring UX to life through the brilliance of The Blues Brothers, but he’s also done a great wrap-up of UX Australia 2013 in his own sketchnotes over on their service to the UX community: UX Mastery.

I’ve put all my UX Australia 2013 sketchnotes together on Flickr, here. I set myself a challenge of pumping out sketchnotes from every session I attended. It was pretty gruelling, both mentally and physically*, but highly worth it. I also tried out some other ideas I’ve had: rather than just spraying drawings all over the page, I tried conforming them to letter-shapes. I even tried doing one as a comic strip…but… let’s just say that one needs more prep and practice!


*OK, not really physically. Knowing loads of people who enter marathons, pull all-nighters at hospitals saving lives, etc, I can’t EVER use the word ‘gruelling’ when it comes to sketching. ;)