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5 things I did in Warsaw last week (MCE^3 Recap)

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5 things I did in Warsaw last week (MCE^3 Recap)

Liam Spradlin

Last week, I flew to Warsaw for MCE^3. MCE stands for "Mobile Central Europe," and it's a mobile conference focused on design, development, and product now in its third year.

I was invited to give a session (along with Francisco Franco) on mutative design, but I got to experience more than just giving a talk. In the interest of having some structure and not turning this into a scrapbook page, I've chosen 5 distinct experiences to talk about here.

1. Franco & I introduced attendees to mutative design!

Okay I already said this in the intro, but we gave a session on mutative design (video forthcoming). The talk is one that I've been working on (and delivering) for a while now, so I was well-acquainted with the content and since Francisco built Selene - the first mutative sample app - with me, so was he. We integrated more details about the first mutative implementations from Franco's perspective, and had some really great questions.

One question was basically "how do I convince people in my organization to adopt and explore this," which is awesome.

There were about 75 people at the session, which I think is the largest audience it's had yet. As I've said before, Project Phoebe is all about getting people on board with this vision of the future so we can all solve these problems a little faster.

2. I walked around Warsaw. Like... all the way around.

Warsaw is a really interesting city, and I feel like we got to see a good chunk of it on this trip. We decided to walk everywhere kind of by accident - we'd walk to one place, decide to walk the short (45 minute) distance to the next place, and that kept on happening until eventually we'd walked about 12 miles around the city.

A lot of that was just winding into, out of, and through Old Town, but we also saw a display of dinosaur bones, found out exactly how big the palace of culture and science is, and saw more churches than I could imagine one city having.

3. I attended awesome sessions at MCE

Since we were at a conference and everything, it seemed like the right thing to do, attending sessions 😜

Probably the most interesting one I attended was about designing friction into products in the right way, rather than all the time trying to get rid of friction. Steve Selzer (experience design manager at Airbnb) delivered a great session, outlining why friction can actually be important to how users experience a product and to how they develop socially as technology continues to advance.

In the above slide, Selzer pointed out that designers simply asking users what they want and why is introducing friction, but humans (designers) aren't a scalable thing, so we can design friction into products to encourage reflection, self-discovery, etc.

One example of this is - of course - Airbnb, which encourages hosts and guests to connect. So staying in a unique place/space and meeting a stranger is friction, but out of that you get an instant personal connection with someone native to the area who can also connect you with places/things/people in the area, giving you a much deeper experience even if it's not as sterile and predictable as a hotel room.

Jasson Schrock also gave a great talk about integrating UX into company culture, using his experience at YouTube for some excellent examples. One tidbit that stuck out was when Jasson revealed that YouTube had tried inserting sub-optimal search results into the search result page, and it turned out that doing this made it easier and faster for users to make decisions. Basically by being able to weed out some results immediately, users felt more confident in choosing the video they wanted faster.

So that's one kind of invisible friction eliminating another type of invisible friction by creating what feels like visible friction. 😳

4. I went to the mall

Sure, going to the mall isn't really that exciting, but I bring it up in this post because the mall we went to in Warsaw was awesome.

Much of the shopping center is enveloped in this amorphous organic blob shaped dome. It's like a big glob of jelly plopped between other more predictable structures. Inside it's just as cool, with sunlight pouring in through the dome all over the stores inside.

I don't have a photo of the escalators, but they were transparent, so you could see the stairs inside recycling around (fun fact: it turns out the stairs are hollow).

5. I took a break

I was only in Warsaw from the 20th to the 23rd, but between all the stuff in points 1 through 4, I took a break. I didn't work on any non-Phoebe projects, I barely even got online, and Franco and I took plenty of opportunities to just sit down and take a breath of fresh air.

The trip was nice - it was quick, fun, challenging, and relaxing at the same time. I can't wait to see where Project Phoebe is in 2017, and hopefully make another trip to Poland.