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In 2016, I first discovered Big Design Dallas as an easy, local design conference to attend. I soon discovered a vibrant UX community in the Dallas and North Texas area. This year I came back as a speaker to contribute to a growing community. Here are the three lessons I took away from Big Design 2017.

Read more about my lessons from Big Design 2016.

1. Research was the star at Big Design

I overheard from a few organizers that anything topic with the word ‘research’ would be packed. This year UX research is the hot topic that dominated much of the program.

Big Design 2017 Research Workshop

One Day workshop on research methods and best practices.

My conference experience started with an all-day workshop, “UX Field Research Toolkit.” The facilitators, Kelly Moran and Jessie Webster took us through practical methods of gathering user data and techniques for analyzing patterns. For me, I learned how powerful it was to create design research artifacts together with the people who collected the data. Synthesizing the information means we process it with the same understanding.

2. Everyone is a designer

It is always a pleasure to catch Jared Spool speak. This time his message brought me back to a lesson I found from teaching. Use your students for you. Otherwise, they will work against you. Jared explained that your developers, product managers, and stakeholders will do the same thing. If they think they are designers, then let them design. The trick is to move them from a stage which he calls unconscious incompetency to conscious incompetency. In short, this means, you want everyone who gives design input to have some understanding of how their opinions and decisions affect the overall experience.

Here’s more from Jared’s keynote.

3. Building culture by design

I came back to Big Design as a speaker. The talk I gave was a revised version of the one I first presented at UX Australia’s Managing Design. From the questions and responses in the audience, this time was that a lot of people seemed to want to bring more creativity into their work culture. However, they feel that their office is too conservative. My response was to go back to the tea drawing activity that I bring in to the talk in the beginning and at the end. Drawing on tea stained index cards is a small thing you can do. When I started drawing on cards in my office, I just did it by myself, but it slowly got noticed by my team and then the other members of the company.

Big Design Tea Drawings

Drawing with tea to inspire creativity in corporate culture

Read more about my past conference talks here.

Find out how I can help you with your next conference or other speaking needs here.

Matt Eng

Matt Eng

DesignOps Manager. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.