IDEA students blown away by breadth and depth of talks and innovation in design thinking at Radical Research Summit
The Radical Research Summit is a one-day conference held in Vancouver that brings together 200 researchers, ethnographers, designers, product thinkers and businesses. The goal of the conference is to share research approaches, techniques and ideas around customer-centric product and service design and to facilitate growth and innovation in the research and design communities across the Pacific Northwest.
This was the second year of the conference, held at the UBC Robson Square campus in late September. It also happened to co-incide with the last day of the 3rd year Usability Testing workshop, so it was a perfect fit to jump from students’ first experience of doing primary, hands-on user research into a conference where multiple methods of inquiry were discussed, including some pretty cutting-edge methods and approaches.
The keynote speaker this year was Steve Portigal, who is a veteran user researcher (his book “Interviewing Users” is the handbook for doing primary UX research), consultant and podcaster. Steve gave a presentation based on his new book Doorbells, Danger and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories. In it he explored the myriad ways that user research can go off the rails, and reminded us that it’s often those moments where we feel the most uncomfortable that contain nuggets of deep insight into our design problems.
Representing IDEA School of Design were students: Jaden Critchlow, Sam Evans, Natalie Heaman, Ashley Loo, Rae Maher, Rhian Tate and Cynthia Vo. Here are a few of their comments about the experience:
“I really enjoyed the conference, and am actually shocked how much I took from it. I did not realize how important/what a big field design research is… I particularly liked the talk about secret shopping and the talk that involved hidden cameras throughout the house. The whole experience definitely made me appreciate putting the user first and really put into perspective was design is about… I can already tell that it is affecting how I tackle design problems.” (Rae Maher)
“The conference thoroughly invigorated my curiosity about all subjects presented, and left me wanting more. It reminded me to embrace fear of the unknown, and to always dig deeper to find out more. Design is about the we and not the “me”.” (Sam Evans)
“Most of my favourite talks were the academic ones. The one about using VR as a therapy for chronic pain was really interesting. Those two things seem so separate and unrelated to me, I love seeing how others are making these connections I’d never think of to try and better the world. The talk about the photo box and Olly the music player was one of my favorites. Usually developing tech just seems to make the world go faster and faster, so it was nice to see some creations doing the opposite.” (Natalie Heaman)
“Having not been to any sort of UX Design conference before, I didn’t know what to expect. After a full day of speakers, case studies and lightning talks, I was so mesmerized by the prospects of UX design and couldn’t wait to dive deeper into it in school. I really enjoyed Dongwook Yoon’s talk … to be able to build something that conveys expressivity of human touch like gestures, voice and even writing into interfaces was so perplexing and incredible. Overall, the conference was incredibly eye-opening and definitely opened up countless possibilities to what UX design could do for users. I would go back again next year!” (Ashley Loo)
A big THANK YOU to Carol and Pascal at IDEA School of Design for securing the funding to make this happen, along with the folks at Niiu Digital and Samsung who organized the conference (and also gave us discounts!).