The EuroIA conference took place in Amsterdam September 22nd-24th 2016. My 45-min talk was entitled 'Data is a Designer's Best Friend'. Delving into the world of the data scientist, this talk shows that once a few fundamentals of their language are understood, we can foster a valuable relationship between data and design. Leading to better outcomes for both parties.
As a speaker, it feels like rite-of-passage to have your talk sketchnoted. A couple of examples from my talk in Amsterdam below - I was delighted, they seem to have captured the essence well for what was a fairly rapidly paced talk covering a lot of ground!
The Interaction 16 conference took place in Helsinki March 2-4 2016. My lightning talk was entitled 'The Art of Drawing - Learning from the Masters'. I also gave a version of this talk in a Predux event in Dublin before Helsinki and an extended version at a Redux event in Utrecht with IxDA Netherlands.
I was incredibly honoured to be asked to join a panel discussion at the inagural Inspirefest conference, held in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin in June 2015. The panel discussion was entitled 'D-STEM: Applying design thinking to STEM in academia and industry' and I was joined by Dr Annie Doona, President of IADT and Prof Susan Schreibman of Maynooth University with Ciarán ÓGaora of Zero-G chairing the discussion. It truly was one of the best conferences I have ever been to with such a diversity of speakers and topics.
I facilitated a half-day workshop and gave at keynote presentation at the UXSofia 2014 conference in Bulgaria. The theme of my talk was all about using storytelling and sketching to communicate your design ideas.
Stories make your ideas sticky. Sometimes we find we've put our heart and soul into producing beautiful design work and yet people just don't get it. My talk looked into how you can use storytelling in your communication to your team, colleagues and clients to explain, inspire, motivate and persuade your audience.
This is the video for 'The story of @', my Ignite-style lightning talk from the IxDADublin 'Defuse - Design for Use' event held in the Sugar Club, Dublin during Design Week 2011. As chief organiser of Defuse that year, it was a huge blow to hear a speaker dropped out with only 3 days to the event. Knowing that it was unlikely I'd find another speaker at that short notice, I decided it would just be easier to volunteer myself! So I had a fairly manic week in trying to coordinate slides for 11 other speakers whilst creating my own but it all turned out well in the end and I got some great feedback from the audience.
In November 2016 as part of eHealth Ireland Innovation Week, I took part in weekend hackathon to deliver solutions to patients with bi-polar disorder. It was hosted by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with eHealth Ireland.
My team pitched an idea for an app for bi-polar patients to be able to recognise early warning signs and manage impending episodes. I was responsible for creating the brand, visual design and interaction design for the demo app. I managed to get a demo prototype up and running on a phone for our pitch using Sketch & Invision so it was great for the judges to be able to see our ideas working on a device.
I learned so much that weekend and it was invaluable to be able to validate our ideas with Rick and Máire on the team, who both have bi-polar disorder, so we could make sure that we were designing solutions that were solving the real issues.
I was asked to join a team of mentors for Dublin Startup Weekend 2013, held at Google HQ on Barrow St in Dublin. I was really impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of all the teams and what they managed to put together in just 36 hours. Mentoring was very enjoyable actually as you could dip in and out of all the various teams, see how they were progressing & hopefully give them some good advice on product direction or focus for their end pitch. I was delighted that MedXNote won the overall event & that the team has continued with a placement on the NDRC Launchpad programme - they were very worthy winners with a worthwhile project.
I really enjoyed the EuroIA 2013 conference in Edinburgh, where I gave a lightning talk on 'Running a SketchClub'. This was the first year EuroIA included lightning talks in the line up and the response from the audience was great. So for the 10th anniversary EuroIA to take place in Brussels Sept 2014 there will be a new format with lightning talks included at the end of each day. I found it a really supportive conference for both new and experienced speakers and liked the way the schedule was organised to facilitate plenty of networking.
I took part in a weekend hackathon organised by Popathon as part of the Darklight Festival 2014. It was a great weekend looking at creating digital storytelling experiences. My team created Room 404, the place for your online regrets. We managed to get the prototype site up and running with a small team with just two days work so pretty proud of what we achieved.
Design Jam Limerick was organised by two students from the Digital Media course at University of Limerick, Daniel Beere and Billy Kennedy along with some faculty members. Mark Conguista and I were asked if we would mentor the teams. Teams of 5-6 people spent their Saturday putting ideas together on how to design improvements to life in Limerick. I was particularly impressed by one team who went out on their lunchbreak and captured interviews with some of the local characters for their location-based storytelling app.
Over the past few years I’ve started hosting free, UX sketching evenings in conjunction with IxDADublin and iQ Content.
SketchClub is a chance to practice sketching in a fun, collaborative environment with peers from the community in Dublin. At each event we like to try out some new exercise to get people to use sketching to help think through problems, express their ideas visually and to collaborate in finding solutions.
We don’t focus too much on formal techniques, it's more about communicating ideas quickly but we do sometimes try to bring in best practice tips from our favourite books or industry experts. We try to include some collaborative visual storytelling exercises, which normally end up being quite bizarre but very funny.
See more SketchClub photos on Flickr:
IxDADublin was originally set up in 2009 by Seamus Byrne and Ben Arent. I took over as a local leader at the beginning of 2011 as Ben was moving to the US and Seamus had just won the bid to host Interaction12 in Dublin and would have a very busy year ahead.
IxDADublin organises a variety of monthly events including UX Bookclub, Design Challenges, talks and movie screenings and as much as possible we try to keep all events free and open to everyone.
Our big event of the year is 'Defuse - Design for Use' held each year in November and for the past 5 years it has been the highlight of Design Week. It involves 12 Ignite-style lightning talks - 20 slides x 15 seconds a slide. We normally include in a design competition for everyone in the audience to get involved in. There's always a brilliant atmosphere with 250-300 people in a great cocktail bar music venue. As a free event we rely hugely on a great bunch of volunteers to put the whole evening together.
I passed over the reigns of IxDADublin events to the capable hands of Filip Szymczak, Irene Gonzalez and Daniel González in 2013. I’m still involved with helping out though including recommending and sourcing speakers for Defuse. We try to spread the net wider than just the interaction design community and to find people who just have something interesting to say about their observations of everyday life. We always end up with quite an eclectic line up but it always blends together brilliantly on the night. Defuse is also a great environment for first-time speakers and we try to encourage young students and innovators to just get up there and give it a go.
In February 2012 the IxDA annual conference came to Dublin with over 800 attendees from all over the world. I was a member of the conference committee looking after social events including the Opening Party in the TCD Dining Hall and the Dublin Journeys evening. How hard can it be to organise a pub crawl in Dublin, I hear you say!
I somehow became official map maker for the event. Not having a background in print design at all and only having dabbled in Illustrator before, I managed to learn as I went and produced not a bad effort at all. I was helped out with tidying up and applying the conference branding style by the graphic design team. Obviously I didn’t do too badly (or I’m just a sucker for punishment) as I ended up creating the city and venue maps for the conference lanyards too.