UCD Conference History (2011 to present)
The idea for this unique organisation, just like many great ideas, was conceived in a pub when three of the organisers commented on the lack of collaboration of like-minded groups, the lack of quality local speakers being seen and the prohibitive cost of attending conferences in general.
That night in the pub we decided to put together UCD2012 as a platform for exploring the many disciplines that have User Centred Design as their foundation and focus on UK based speakers (but not exclusively) who are the best in their field. We wanted to offer real-world case studies, provide inspirational presentations and interactive workshops and offer opportunities for learning, sharing, networking and socialising with like-minded people.
To get UCD2012 off the ground we had to form a company to manage the whole thing in a professional manner. after UCD2013 was such a success we decided to continue and run UCD2014 and the rest is history.
The structure of UCD UK Conferences
UCD UK is a not for profit organisation run by people who already have other jobs, there are no full-time employees and we do these conferences for the development and benefit of the UCD Community.
From 2011 until 2014 we were a Limited company, but as a non-profit organisation it was not the right legal framework for us. In 2015 we became a Society we will remain focused on creating events and are not a membership organisation.
Somethings about the structure of UCD UK Conferences
The User Centred Design Society is a not for profit organisation run by people who already have other jobs, there are no full time employees and we do these conferences for the development and benefit of the UCD Community.
We wanted to be inclusive and really had to think about who our audience would be, people on staff (design, business, IT, marketing, finance, operations), contractors and academics. Staff can, if supported by their companies attend or take a day off, for academics attending conferences is part of their DNA (though they may have funding difficulties) but contractors are unlikely to give up a days rate (and then pay it) to attend, but would attend on a Saturday. Hence the somewhat odd Friday and Saturday days.
We wanted a conference that we would pay for ourselves. We have all been to conferences that were so big we could not really meet people, get the support we need and the insight from the speakers and other practitioners experiences. A great deal of the UCD conferences is about having the space and time to talk to each other. It’s a work in progress, but we seem to be getting there.
We wanted it to be cheap in cost and high in quality, it’s one of those marketing myths that cultures and people buy into that quality is more expensive than the average or sub standard. Quality is derived from understanding not information, what it means to us as UCD people determines the quality and this is also quite fundamental in our selection process for speakers.
We wanted speakers that can excite and engage everyone, this is a tall order, but worth a try. This is why we have so many streams and also why they change each year in their structure as we learn how best to support those engaging experiences. We needed speakers that at a very basic level we can connect to, their vision or experience excites, challenges (fundamentally different is good, if founded on a good story) and causes us to think again or can form a new perspective for us.
We did not want to become a membership organisation, there are many great organisations out there and we are fully supportive of them as they represent very important behaviours and principals.
And finally we will never limit who and what we are as UCD people, because we are all still finding it out;
UCD is journey not a destination
User Centred Design or should it be User Centered Design
The International Standard is ISO 13407:1999 Human-centred design processes for interactive systems now revised as ISO 9241-210:2010 Ergonomics of human-system interaction — Part 210: Human-centred design for interactive systems. As the standard is User Centred Design that’s the spelling we use also.