16 takeaways from Camp Digital 2016


Last year I attended the Camp Digital UX conference in Manchester, UK. It was a day of seminars delivered by industry experts. See my review of Camp Digital 2015 here. I was very impressed and a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to take my team, and some others who work in UX and design within the organisation. This year the conference was spread over two days; the first being a day of workshops and the second a day of seminars.

Thank you to the members of the team (Phil, Hasan, Ana, Jonny and Kieran) who contributed to this post and joined me for the two days. They made the experience very enjoyable and more valuable.

Phil (@philstavri) summed up the event very well…

Camp Digital has once again proved to be a highly useful experience; offering inspirational talks, best practice guidance and relevant industry insights. The experiences shared by several speakers has reinforced that we are headed on the right course in many ways and in those that we are not there were specific techniques we can use to guide ourselves in the future. Overall an interesting and thought provoking two days of workshops and talks!

I asked the team to feedback any key takeaways to share with you.

Jonny (@JonnyStuart) gives an overview of one of the morning’s workshops; Sketching: Thinking, Communication and Design by Francis Rowland

Wow. Previously I have lacked in confidence when it comes to sketching, I was of the opinion that I was unable to draw so stepped away from the sketch process and jumped straight onto the Mac.

Francis set a number of short enjoyable tasks to get us used to putting pen to paper and really getting a feel for pen in hand, this put me out of my comfort zone however I quickly found my opinions changing and realising my confidence of being able to include sketching ideas on paper was increasing.

Throughout the workshop Francis shared some really useful resources such as ‘The importance of closing shapes’.

Overall the workshop was great, I have now started to implement sketching into all of our new projects.


16 take aways from Camp digital

  1. User feedback – keep it short, keep it real, keep it relevant. ” –  Robert Mulder and Ryan Comerford
  2. Visual design sets the users expectations. ” – Patrik Malmquist and Anders Lundstrom
  3. You must encourage critique. ” –  Francis Rowland
  4. “When designing collaboratively, don’t give someone a blank sheet of paper and expect them to draw- Start off the visual and ask them to modify.” –  Francis Rowland
  5. Weeks of programming can save you days of planning. ” –  Francis Rowland
  6. Independence = confidence = acceptance = inclusion … Designing for inclusion is to enable independence.” –  Molly Watt
  7. Go back and forward to get the right answers on your process of sketching, it helps to get the questions that you didn’t have from the beginning.” –  Francis Rowland
  8. Even if you’re working for free, always show the real value of that work. ” –  Julie Dodd
  9. Craft a vision that everyone can use to steer every decision. ” – Tom Loosemore
  10. Think smart and use what’s already out there, rather than re-inventing or duplicating the efforts.” –  Julie Dodd
  11. Consider accessibility requirements as part of every project, otherwise we will create something that won’t be usable to everyone.” –  Molly Watt
  12. Don’t be afraid of trying new solutions (if there is a better one). ” –  Julie Dodd
  13. Don’t be afraid to get sacked by pushing the boundaries. ” –  Tom Loosemore
  14. Always consider the user a stakeholder, otherwise you get buses with only one door! ” –  Colman Walsh
  15. Play is a powerful motivator that can be used for useful outcomes other than just fun. ” –  Jeff Coghlan
  16. Get comfortable throwing sketches away, this teaches us that everything can be recreated and that we should not to be precious about ideas.” –  Francis Rowland

Kieran based some of his feedback on the food, drink and time together as a team, initially as a bit of a joke but hit some really key points.
Having a two day conference in a city that is not directly on your doorstep has its advantages. A couple of meals together and some train journeys can really help to build team bonds. I think this is often overlooked as the outcome of a conference is what you learn from it. In this case we learned a lot about user experience from different people but also had chance to discuss and share our ideas with each other.

From the two days I wanted to achieve a number of points; gain knowledge, tips to solve solutions and also connect with industry experts. I feel I have exceeded in all three points.



A special thank you to the Performance Development team at CEB for supporting this training/ team building.
More about Camp Digital can be found here


Reading list (books at Camp Digital)
101 Things That I Learn In Architecture School – Matthew Frederick

Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design – Bill Buxton

Nonviolent Communication – Marshall B. Rosenberg

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do And How To Change – Charles Duhigg

The Courage to Create – Rollo May

The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide: How to use your listening, thinking and drawing skills to make meaning – Brandy Agerbeck

Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice – Ivan Brunetti


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