Technology conjures an image of software developers hunched over their computers coding a piece of software, or an engineer running tests on a robot in a laboratory.
But the most important part of technology — people — will be creating a buzz at Fluxible, a user-experience design conference taking place in Kitchener this weekend.”
Whether it is a medical device, a robot, a wristwatch or a running shoe with a digital component, the interface for a bank machine, a smartphone or retail website, it has to be designed for human beings.
“What is someone’s experience going to be like in interacting with this product or service?” That’s the question that will be the topic of Fluxible on Saturday and Sunday, says Robert Barlow-Busch, who co-founded the annual conference with Mark Connolly.
The conference, in its second year, is expected to draw about 160 people involved in user-experience design from a wide variety of companies and organizations, says Barlow-Busch.
Speakers include Larry Cornett, who was a product executive in Silicon Valley, speaking on the battle between love and money as it applies to products, organizations, and careers; Teresa Brazen of San Francisco-based Cooper Studio, on how workplace culture impacts design teams; Steve Baty from Australia, on sources of innovation; Leah Buley of Intuit, leading a workshop on sketching, and Jodi Leo of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, on power of metaphor in making sense of raw data.
A speaker from the local area will be Konrad Sauer, a world-renowned maker of hand planes for woodworking, who will talk about craftsmanship, form and function.
Barlow-Busch says user-experience design is critical for every gadget from medical devices to MP3 players and smartphones, as well as websites and applications such as financial products and retail sites.
For companies, it can be the “strategic differentiator,” he says. The goal is to create products and services that not only work, but that people actually delight in using, he adds.
“It is all about building a strong relationship with the customers and turning them into advocates of whatever it is you are doing.”
More information about the Fluxible conference can be found on the website at www.fluxible.ca.
Most of the conference will take place at University of Waterloo Pharmacy School building at King and Victoria streets, although it also includes a Saturday evening reception at Themuseum in Kitchener.
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