In this series of three posts, we asked members of our product team to share their first-hand account of one of the world’s most prestigious and innovative technology conferences, SXSW. 

Delight your users, promote design-thinking, be a storyteller, make it beautiful, consider the IoT (internet of things)… don’t worry, all the user experience (UX) and tech buzzwords were present at SXSW, and no cheesy session title pun was left behind. Luckily there was also a strong showing of passionate and innovative product designers, researchers, and developers; many from brands I’ve long admired.  

Human-Centric Development and Cultural Contribution

Among the most applicable for CallRail were sessions on human-centricity in product development from ING and Huddle, designing for interaction from AirBNB, and the right amount of automation in data visualizations from Trifacta. There were also applicable sessions on how to organize sprints by Google and sessions focused on creating a design-driving corporate culture from Hulu, Homeaway, and PayPal.

As we grow our product design team at CallRail, it was helpful to see how my UX heroes are working. Adam Grant encouraged hiring for ‘cultural contribution’ – looking for the holes and what type of person is most adept to fill them. This helps you to gain valuable diversity of ideas while avoiding groupthink, unlike with ‘culture fit’ which sometimes just means, which personality type do we like? The A/B testing tips from Netflix, Intuit, and Etsy were also helpful and will be useful as we get ready to hire our first UX Researcher.  

Taking UX Care from Product Inception

I’m excited about this design leadership advice from David Kujda and John Couch: Give design a voice from product inception, don’t fall into the trap of releasing wimpy MVPs (minimum viable products) make sure there is a level of UX care taken and that your team is proud of what they’re releasing. Encourage designers to stand up for their work and have the research to support their ideas, and make sure the development team feels a connection to and deep understanding of the humans who will use the product.

Better Communicators and Better Empathizers

I left Austin feeling inspired by the ways product design is expanding to close the gaps between ideation and development.  Designers are growing their research and development skills, and it’s crazy to see how our tools are growing with us.  I saw previews of how our prototyping apps are expanding towards user testing, and our design apps are pulling real-time data into the design process and translating our visuals into code.  There is a push for technology to make us better communicators and empathizers – towards our co-workers in different roles and towards our customers.  As technology streamlines our workflow, we are able to focus more time on design strategy, cross-team collaboration, and broadening our skillsets.  

I’m thankful to work at a company that has been user-focused from the start.  This wasn’t the case for some of the other designers I met at SXSW. CallRail’s customer support and user interface have been reviewed as the best in the industry and our customer requests are always carefully considered.  It’s exciting to see how the tech industry is increasingly focused on creating a positive, or even ‘delightful’ experience for their customers.  It’s even more exciting to be exposed to so many ideas on how we can make our user experience even better for our CallRail users.

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