Almost a year ago, I was finishing my dissertation on a Tuesday in the middle of the pandemic. I didn’t know what would come next, but I knew I’d worked hard to get where I was. I had been studying Psychology at the University of York since 2018, learning to understand everything from why we find certain faces attractive to Bayesian statistics. I loved my degree and I was certain I wanted a job that would allow me to apply the knowledge I had gained from it. When I first received my offer to work at VISFO, it felt a little too good to be true. But I took a leap of faith and here I am, part of the Product Design team, researching how consumers interact with our platforms and how we can best support change within healthcare organisations.
When I imagined what the beginning of my career would look like and what I would be most excited about, conferences were at the top of the list. Maybe it’s just me being a little bit of a geek, but a whole day dedicated exclusively to learning cool and new things about your field of work? Sign me up! Admittedly, when I first found out about The BAD (Behaviour and Design) Conference, I was only a couple of months into my role, and not sure if I’d get the thumbs up to go. But that’s what’s different about VISFO – we are a diverse team of specialists and experts brought together by the understanding that knowledge is power, which is the first thing Max said when he agreed the team should attend!
Carlota, Rachael, Doug and I attended the conference last month, which included both an online event and an in-person meeting in London. The conference occurs yearly and is dedicated exclusively to the behavioural science that underpins psychology-based user research and how this influences the experience design process. The event was headlined by Shell and included lectures and Q&As, as well as interactive panel discussions and networking sessions.
In a slightly odd and metaphorical sense, going to your first conference is a bit like going on a first date. Everyone’s encouraging you to go, your friends are helping you decide what to wear, you’re planning ahead on what you will say, and there’s an odd mix of excitement and nerves in your belly. Once you arrive though, you forget all that and end up having a really great time. That is unless your date is a nightmare, but luckily my time at BAD went really well and was spent with a hundred plus people rather than just the one, and all experts in their fields uniting over a love for behavioural science and design.
The discussions I had all showcased that shared passion. There were many lightbulb moments; everyone had something exciting to say and so much knowledge was shared. I came away feeling not only incredibly inspired but also confident in my abilities. I know I have the tools I need to do my job well, and the conference helped me contextualise their use. The train ride home involved lots of thinking and writing down ideas – my mind was reeling, and I was so eager to share what I had learned with the wider team.
Looking back on my experience a month or so later, one thing stands out – Max was definitely right about knowledge being power.
Here are 10 things I learnt at BAD:
- You can never know too much about your user
- What people do is a lot more important than what they say
- Layer your data: combine findings from multiple pieces of research to draw stronger evidence-based conclusions
- There is bias everywhere, and it affects everything
- Method complexity does not necessarily correlate with research impact
- Engagement is not an effective measurement of success because it doesn’t satisfy any customer need!
- Don’t act on any insights found until all user research is complete
- ‘Research that isn’t shared is research that hasn’t been done’ – Lindsey Redinger
- We shouldn’t generalise our users too explicitly, individual differences make them all different, and behaviour is everchanging
- Don’t skip discovery!