The Pixel Fridge designers head to Collaborate 2023
Collaborate 2023 was a great opportunity for the Pixel Fridge Design team to get together in Bristol and join Experience Design peers for a day of networking opportunities and valuable insights.
Here’s what the team took away from the experience.
Director of Experience
It was super interesting to attend Bristol Collaborate this year, and get a feel for what’s happening in the UK Experience Design community. There were some great talks, and some real food for thought.
One of the key themes I noticed was the increasing importance of a ‘Design Ops’ function, particularly in larger organisations. Since the role of design is becoming larger and more business-critical, leaders are needed to manage the increasing scale of our operations. This means robust creating design systems, and creating consistency between devices. But it’s more than just that. There’s the all-important people factor.
In a world of remote working and globally distributed teams, we need to have the processes in place that allow collaboration to happen. Many of the speakers talked about ways we can be better communicators, both within our own design teams and also with our wider stakeholders. As an agency, that’s something we can take to heart. If our clients and developers aren’t engaged in the design process from the off, then it’s unlikely we’ll produce solutions that they’re fully happy with.
Fortunately, the talks gave some great advice on how to keep stakeholders engaged, even in a remote working environment. As technology improves we’re also gaining tools that increase our efficiency, and shortcut some of the legacy busywork of our trade. Examples ranged from a drag-and-drop layout creator for a global design system, right through to using AI to produce production-ready assets and prototypes. With clever use of these new tools we can spend less time dragging boxes around, and more time focusing on the important business of collaboration and problem solving. Now that’s an exciting prospect!
In an ever-changing digital landscape, the conference explored the future of collaboration around the topics of remote work, the impact of emerging technologies, strategies for cross-functional work and the importance of people culture.
In the context of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality, the speakers inspired me to embrace innovation, adapt to changing dynamics and show humanity in my approach to design. We should not fear the way our industry is changing and should harness the opportunities it presents instead. We should welcome the tools that allow us to work faster and more efficiently in order to devote more time to human connections.
Communication efficiency within our team but also with our clients are the key to success. The power of collaboration is at the heart of what we do as designers. With empathy and a people-centered approach, we can create smart, relevant and flexible design systems that will improve our workflow as well as fulfil our clients’ objectives. With an open mind, we can gain insights from each other and foster a truly collaborative community of triumphant designers, developers, clients and stakeholders alike.
Senior UI Designer
Firstly there was Alkistis Geropoulou, Head Of User Centred Design At Companies House who spoke about bringing people together, identifying blockers and creating a vision for change. Which on paper (within the context of Companies House!) doesn’t sound like it would be particularly life-changing. But she spoke with passion and eloquence about the need to look at ‘whole problems’ and identify where people can work together to problem-solve within the constraints of an organisation. Her verve for overcoming tricky situations and bureaucracy was incredibly motivating!
The second talk which stuck with me – and blew my mind if I am honest – was from Chris Richards (Creative Director at Nomensa) and Gareth Williams (Freelance Lead Service & Product Designer). They had decided, for the purposes of the talk, to see to what extent they could harness the power of widely available AI tools to create a product offering. This included the name, the brand, the advertising and promo videos as well as the application itself. The results were astonishing, highly amusing, and most surprisingly, not terrifying. They found some limitations (mostly in the creative areas – much to the joy of us designers) and also highlighted some really intriguing possibilities for easily integrating AI into design processes. Bravo guys!
One for the road
Three of our developers also happened to be in Bristol on the same day to attend the Pixel Pioneers conference.
It would have been scandalous not to get everyone together on Bristol’s historic harbourside to share insights and refreshments before the train journey home.
It was the perfect opportunity for a family portrait.
Disclaimer: no AI was harmed in the creation of one of these images.