#Button2020 takeaways: Part 3

Nuggets of wisdom I took away from the keynotes (not comprehensive summaries)

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.
  • Focus on what you CAN control.

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.

Kevin Bui: Gaining trust

  • Build product content with, not for, stakeholders, including being transparent about your whole process; and using data to reduce ambiguity in decision making.
  • As the content person, trust yourself: find a community for support; trust your gut and remember there is a reason you are the one doing what you do; and reflect/do “retros” (with yourself) on your past work to inform your future work and content practice.

Vivek Sri: How UX writing is standup comedy

  • To succeed, tap into what the audience is already feeling, both in comedy and in UX writing. But in comedy you’d exaggerate those feelings where in UX writing you’re going to comfort or empower or whatever your voice is.
  • You can be a critic or performer: the former is safe and a natural place to land after being in a field for a long time, but the latter is daring and means going outside your comfort zone, despite Imposter Syndrome, despite not being the most experienced out there, and it’s an outlook worth leaning into, regardless of your experience/seniority.

Chelsea Larsson: How to win over designers and influence engineers

Sweet slide from one of my favorite talks at the conference
  • Show strategy and impact to dispel myths about not being a strategic role and “anyone with a doc can do it”; show before and after — the what and the why, and the business value of the change.
  • Broken processes may be the result of not understanding our role/where we fit in a good process. It’s not malicious. It’s about collaborating to create a loop that creates synergy of all disciplines.
  • Assuage fears of stakeholders by explaining your role through the lens of their needs and concerns; position yourself as a partner not a blocker.
  • Scale, streamline, and make your content practice more efficient by sharing your standards/Content Style Guide and your process documentation, and managing expectations — articulate what you cannot do without more headcount or more time.

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.

Lindsey Thomas: UX for toddlers and other humans

  • Think about context — effective communication won’t happen when the audience is distracted. e.g., don’t give a user (like a cashier, in this case) a script to read when they have too much going on to stop and read it, instead, give them alternative communication tools that make sense for their context.
  • Play up the benefit even when the message isn’t fun — want user to allow access to their camera? Explain why they should want that.
  • Speak their language — unique shared jargon can be the right choice. If it’s shared language with your user, it’s probably the better communication choice. Don’t overthink language choices that users are handing you on a silver platter.

Angela Gorden: Write better, faster, and with more authority

“UX writers are product leaders” slide from Angela’s presentation
  • There’s a lot more to UX writing than writing, including product thinking, design research, and making the most of feedback.
  • We are in a unique position to zoom out and look broad: at what the user really wants, what the business really wants, and what is going on in other parts of the product; we have context when writing a screen that should be leveraged, and not be undervalued.
  • We get so much feedback from so many directions, that if we’re humble and open to it, our work and our users can benefit so much. We don’t have to accept it all and it won’t always be constructive, but considering it all holds a lot of potential. Communicating about what makes feedback constructive (or not) can level up the whole team.

You may also be interested in Button takeaways: Part 1 (warning: all the feels) and/or Button takeaways: Part 2 about the on-demand library talks (post in progress).

Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic awesomely hosting the most well-produced online event I’ve every been to

Register for #Button2021!

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