Having our tickets at hand and heading off to this year's push conference, we were curious about what to expect. Our UX team is going every year and it is always exciting to see what moves the UX world and whether the topics that are being discussed are reflective of what we deal with in our everyday lives as UX designers.

Katja, marketing lead at FLUID, asked her UX colleagues Stefan, Riccardo and Anne-Sophie a few questions.

What was the overall theme at this year’s push conference?

Stefan: Overall, we could observe that UX is more and more seen in the grand scheme of things, increasingly perceived in the context of the entire design process instead of being understood as an individual design discipline.

Anne-Sophie: At FLUID, we very often accompany our clients through the whole process, from research, insights and strategy and testing, all the way through industrial design and UX & UI design. So seeing UX design as just one integral part of the design process, feels very natural to us.

Which talk(s) impressed you the most? Why?

Stefan: We were fortunate enough to be able to listen to most of the talks. One of the talks I found very interesting was „Embracing friction“ by Zoltan Kollin, Design Manager @ IBM lab in Budapest. He emphasised the idea of adding friction within user experiences in order to make the user journey better. For example adding artificial delays in order to give a sense of credibility, or integrating additional steps in order to make risky actions slightly harder. Zoltan gave great use-cases and real-world examples on how frictions are used today.

Riccardo: And there was the example with the airport. Where they prolonged the way from the plane to baggage claim, building in detours, so that upon arriving, you don't have to wait so long. This can drastically improve your perceived user experience and value.

Stefan: Another example was a banking app which analyzed the user's iris for logging in. This usually takes milliseconds, but deceptive friction, that is artificially slowing down the process and pretending to take longer, increases the user's credibility.

Riccardo: The same goes for coin counting machines.

Stefan: Yes. We could see how friction can be an efficient part of our designer’s toolkit. And how we can take this into account even more.

Anne-Sophie: I really liked the talk from the Laurissa Wolfram Hvass. She is the Director of Research @ Mailchimp and raised the question of how usable your research is. And how much at Mailchimp they deliberately put thought and care into the end user, for instance company founders, invite them over or even fly them in to spend the whole day at Mailchimp. In order to really understand what their worries & struggles are.

Any trends that you can identify since last years conference?

Stefan: I would mention that the industry is increasingly touching more on topics of responsible design.

Can you give any examples?

Stefan: Some of the day-to-day digital services we use have over time perfected their UX on a level which triggers the same neuropsychological responses as gambling does. Think of how you can easily get hooked onto spending an unnecessary amount of time scrolling through your facebook and instagram feed, or the ‘drag down to refresh’ in your email app. This is very similar to interacting with a slot machine.

We have reached a point in time when attention is the new oil. Most digital services and platforms all want to grab and hold onto its users attention for as long as possible. From a business standpoint it all makes sense since active usage is a great metric for product business owners. However, from the users side, we are increasingly loosing track on how much time we spend with our digital devices. A couple of years ago, an ex-Google employee, Tristan Harris, started raising this question at his workplace which then led him to start an initiative to raise awareness in Silicon Valley about this invisible problem that is affecting all of society. In Munich, we also have regular meet ups touching upon this topic as designers. Some months ago I attended a panel discussion where we discussed how to find the right balance between business goals and design ethics. Thankfully companies like Google and Apple have already started taking this into account by introducing digital wellbeing within their mobile operating systems.