UX Scotland 2018 Conference

  • 6 July 2018, 02:40

From 13-15 June, 2018, Steve Burrows (Web Design Manager) and I attended the UX Scotland 2018 Conference in Edinburgh at Dynamic Earth.

There were a total of 54 keynotes, case studies, workshops, discussions, tutorials and, lightning talks over 3 days. Both of Scotland’s unicorn companies, Skyscanner and FanDuel, were in attendance. Along with Instagram, Shopify, Indeed, and NHS Digital, to name a few.



Instagram – Thoughtful growth: designing experiences for Instagram’s new and next users

The first case study that I went to was from Whitney Trump (no relation) from Instagram. She is part of their 130 strong growth team, that has seen growth itself having been only just over 30 last year. The team is consisted of UX designers and content strategists.

Whitney started out with a bold statement that growth is a UX problem. Bringing their whole team together to solve the problem of onboarding and continued growth was an interesting take on the problem. They also look at the problem like a party – introducing friends to each other at a party.

The growth team have 5 guiding principles:

  • Be consistent and clear to create cohesive experiences
  • Give people clear options and a sense of control
  • Use content that fits the context
  • Have a clear hypothesis and goals for content options
  • Begin with clarity and then consider novelty

The final principle was related to ensuring that content worked internationally when it was translated. For example, not using phrases like “Add to queue” because only a UK audience would understand that phrase. Americans don’t join queues, they get in line. This really resonated with me as we have an international audience to consider with our website.

Shopify – The search continues: a great search experience in a post-Google world

After Instagram, I went to the case study from Shopify on building a back-end search for their admin interface.

There was a technical hurdle that they are still trying to overcome which is that their front-end and back-end search are on two different platforms. This caused issues when they were trying to unify the search results. Their plan for the future is to have one search platform.

The interesting take away from this case study was the inclusion of breadcrumbs in the search results which was intended to educate users to the location of the item. From testing this reduced people using the search when they learned where an item was located.

FanDuel – Bridging the 300-mile gap between the users and you

I then went to the case study from FanDuel, an app for the American Fantasy Sports betting market. The app is designed and built in Edinburgh but their users are all in America. This poses some interesting challenges as the UX team don’t have users on their doorstep. They also don’t have access to test the live platform because as employees of the company, they are not allowed to bet on the platform.

My take away from this case study was to not do UX write-ups (long reports) because no one reads them. Instead, you should do a show and tell and make sure you tell a good story.

Access the slides from the FanDuel case study

Indeed – Using a Google Design Sprint as a product superpower

The forth case study that I attended was regarding Design Sprints. Seeing as we have been running Design Sprints since the start of 2018, it was interesting to see how someone else was using them. Indeed have taken the concept and developed several different versions that fit the needs of their business ranging from 60 minute sprints to the full 4 days.

Access the slides from the Indeed case study

Mad*Pow – UX designers vs climate change

I attended a case study about climate change. It was certainly eye-opening to think about how much data centres and the associated infrastructure effect the environment.


Michael Crabb – Accessible everyone

We all need to consider accessibility whenever we design anything and the case study from Michael Crabb, who has just joined the University of Dundee, was great. Especially the part talking about using pirates to teach children about impairments. Michael’s work on subtitles was fascinating.

See the slides from the Accessible Everyone case study.

Skycanner – Backpack, our journey in creating a design system

Skyscanner used to be organised into teams for content, engineering and, design with work passing between each team before completion. They decided to organise into squads that are multi-disciplinary teams. This enabled them to get features released into their four products quicker. However, this also brought about challenges as each squad was developing their own assets, such as search buttons, slightly differently. This was causing a disjointed user experience across their products.

To help solve this challenge, they embarked on creating their own design system called Backpack.

Our design team have been developing our own design system called BRGR (Burger) this year. Read more about BRBR.

NHS Digital – A new IA for nhs.uk

The last case study that I attended was regarding the new information architecture for nhs.uk.

“People shouldn’t have to understand the health and care system to get the help they need” – a powerful statement for simple information architecture. In relation to the University, people shouldn’t have to understand the University structure to get the information and help they need.

When looking at the current nhs.uk information architecture, for a simple journey, the team had seen that several sections of the site were visited.


UX Scotland 2018 was a fantastic conference that is not only enjoyable from a UX perspective (I don’t need to explain to anyone what my job title means) but it also had case studies and workshops that cover public sector and private sector. I learned a lot during the conference and there are several ideas that I will be taking forward in my work, such as mapping user journeys to the current information architecture in a visual way.

Written by:

Rob graduated from the University of Dundee in Applied Computing BSc (Hons) and Design Ethnography MSc. He has been working for the University since 2013.

Bringing the technical aspects from computing and the user research aspects from ethnography, he is our User Experience Manager.

Rob is often out of the office speaking to users and testing the website to new design thinking.

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