#Button2020 takeaways: Part 2

Nuggets of wisdom I took away from the talks — not comprehensive summaries

This is how much fun we all had speaking at (and participating in!) Button

Vicki Siolos: Generating impact as a team of one

  • When writing for a multilingual interface, Google translate your copy into another language to check length, and then translate it BACK to the original language for insight into alternatives that may work better, even in the original language. In other words, take an English string, translate to German, then take the German and translate it BACK into English, and that final output may include material improvements over what you had written originally.
  • Apply your UI style guide to internal communications.
  • Everyone writes but not everyone is a writer, which can lead to a lack of respect for our expertise. Empathy is key. Understand where feedback is coming from, look for the value it offers, even when it’s not coming from writers or if you don’t agree with all of it.
  • Survey results: Average ratio of UX writer to designer 1:25. Insane!

Madeline Grdina: Design is obscenity

  • “Context” is the elephant in the room — so obvious, it’s overlooked. Don’t overlook context because it can be the difference between what you mean to say and what your readers hear.
  • Good design serves a purpose. Simple. But “what purpose?” is more complex. Is the purpose to communicate an affordance or a message? Or something else? There’s no right answer as to what the purpose should be, the question is whether that purpose is achieved. As users, we know whether the purpose has been achieved without articulating the purpose in the first place — when it’s been achieved, we consider it “good design” and when it hasn’t, “bad design”. We, users, reach that conclusion without needing to articulate the purpose, but as a designer, you do have to articulate it if you want to be able to achieve it.

Meredith Arthur: Collaborating with overthinkers

  • Trust is core to successful collaboration and trust is built through vulnerability. Don’t let ego get in the way of sharing a part of yourself that can get you there. The thing you’re hiding that ends up getting awkward, may be the very thing to share because it’s what makes you unique and uniquely good at your job and will win you the trust of your collaborators.
  • When you catch yourself overthinking, stop and think about others. Get out of your head and get perspective, especially in times of stress.
  • Focus on what you CAN control.

John Paz: The “pipeline problem” is about belonging

  • Diversity is not a problem, it’s an opportunity. Heterogeneous groups fill knowledge gaps and bring perspectives that allow them to build products that are attractive to wider audience. Diversity is a competitive advantage.
  • 1% increase in diversity = 3% increase in revenue. WHAT?? (Perfect for my ROI talks :)
  • Define talent according to skills — going to an Ivy League school is an achievement, not a skill, and by including factors like that when defining who your company is looking to hire, you narrow your net and miss a ton of potential hires who are enormously talented.)
  • “Diversity” just means having the people there; “inclusion” is giving them a voice. “Diversity” is being at the table; “inclusion” is being in the conversation. “Balance” is when those voices count.

Kaytee Nesmith: How to tackle intractable problems

  • Get collaborators together as people first. Use introvert- and extrovert-friendly ways to get to know each other and build trust, for more productive, efficient work solving the actual problem you’ve come together to address.

Margo Stern: Designing for low digital literacy

  • Because of their limitations, users with low digital literacy are particularly vulnerable to scams and misinformation.
  • The disparity between the people making the product and the people using the product makes me think back to John Paz’s talk and how diversity hires fill important knowledge gaps.
  • The more things are moving online, the more low digital literacy people are falling behind.
  • One of the concrete things we can do as designers is make sure not to hide important actions behind hidden gestures. Affordance should be clear to everyone, at least for essential functions.

You may also be interested in Button takeaways: Part 1. (Warning: all the feels)

UX writer specializing in complex products. Passionate about making tech accessible to mass markets. Also a proud em dash enthusiast.