My Takeaways From Generate London 2015

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  • October 2, 2015
Eden Bell

Eden Bell

Lead Designer

I was lucky enough to attend the Generate Conference in London a few weeks ago and can honestly say that it was
very inspiring.

As is always the case when you get to spend a few days away from your desk, listening to industry-leading experts talk about how they approach a project and the thinking behind each one, I have come back with lots of exciting ideas that I can’t wait to share.

Designing for Crisis

Eric Meyer discussed how considering crisis-driven personas can help improve your website designs. It makes sense when you think about it; if a person who is under extreme stress in a heightened emotional state can easily navigate your site and find what they need, imagine how much of a positive experience it will be for the average user.

This concept has given me a new perspective on how I approach web design and made me realise that most websites are not catered to users with crisis-driven situations. It seems like such a simple concept that gets hugely overlooked!

When developing a persona for the crisis-driven user, it is important to consider the following:

  • Designing for crisis requires empathy, the ability to feel what your users are going through and understand their needs at any given time
  • Bear in mind the context when taking into account a crisis persona. Are they travelling using a mobile? Are they stranded on the side of the road? Are they in an unknown country? Are they in the comfort of their own home? Each situation will require different needs. This applies to users in leisure, in haste, or in crisis
  • Following on from the previous point, some personas only appear at certain times and places. This helps determine what designs are appropriate at different times
  • Designing for crisis doesn’t always mean reacting to a user’s problem, but also being prepared when one is created as the result of a technological error. What happens when there’s an error on our side and things don’t work?
  • Make sure you include important instructions and time-sensitive information front and centre, making it easy to locate and use. Don’t withhold useful information when you know there’s a chance that things might go wrong
  • Sometimes, minimal design is the most effective
  • Sometimes, we get tunnel vision when designing. It is important to take a step back and see it through the eyes of the user. This is where peer testing and focus groups become very beneficial

Here at Branded3, we can personally attest to the effectiveness of considering ‘crisis personas’ in designing user experience. We recently took this approach with our redesign of First4lawyers’ website, identifying a number of what would be termed ‘crisis’ users; tailoring journeys, function and design to their needs. The results speak for themselves, with a 56% increase in conversion rate.

Design Culture

“A good design practice needs to be intentional. Don’t ever let yourself do things arbitrarily”

This is a quote from Verne Ho, Director of Design at Shopify, who gave a very influential talk on Design Culture. He raised some good points regarding design practise and how we should all work together to promote a healthy work environment.

At Shopify, they have something called “Fresheyes”. This is where, twice a week, everyone gets together to present what they have been working on to the rest of the team. This is beneficial for two reasons. Firstly, you get comfortable talking about your own work and explaining your thought process and reason for doing things. In turn, this helps everyone within the team develop a common design language that will allow everyone on the team to collaborate effectively with each other.

Secondly, it allows the designer to see their design through fresh eyes and learn how to receive constructive criticism throughout the design process.

He also touched on how important it is to be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each individual team member and be able to leverage their strengths when working collectively. We need to be communicating with each other and celebrating the differences within the team. Otherwise, we’re nothing more than a “group of loosely-tied freelancers.”

The most important and by far the most difficult task is ensuring that there is a shared sense of responsibility within the team. When work leaves your door, it is attributed to your company, not the individual that led the project.

This is why it is incredibly important to ensure that you educate and train your team members to be better communicators and promote a sense of pride in their own work. Passion and enthusiasm is contagious and culture will manifest itself in the things we do as a team.

Whilst we already strive to ensure open communication of ideas and create a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration, talks like this give us huge inspiration and drive us to continually enhance and energise our processes.

In our opinion, a team can’t be too collaborative; there were some great insights given by Verne Ho that we’ll be incorporating into our design process here at Branded3. We’ll keep you updated as to how things evolve and what we discover from this, so stay tuned.

The 24-hour User

“With today’s users experiencing content across multiple platforms any time, anywhere, designers have a great opportunity and a great challenge, to better connect with them.”

Jon Setzen, Creative Director at Media Temple, gave a very insightful talk on ‘Design for a 24-Hour Experience’ where he outlined the challenges of connecting with a user that is constantly connected. It is essential to understand when, where and why a user interacts with your website, app or product throughout their day. With well thought-out planning and a detailed look into the users’ wants and needs, we can go from a user needing to use your site once to WANTING to use it on a daily basis.

We’re long-time proponents of user-centric design, from the extensive user research we undertake throughout our User Experience and Design process. It’s only through fully understanding your user’s motivations, pain points and behaviours that we can create truly effective design.


The underlying theme throughout the whole conference was user-focused design. Now, this isn’t a new concept by any means, but the way we connect with the user needs to evolve and change to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology.

Things need to be personalised and we need to gain a better understanding into human behaviour and question why the user will want to use our website, app or product and what problem we will be solving for them.

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