UK’s second largest pureplay etailer hosts 200-strong UX event at Liverpool HQ
Industry collaboration, diversity and encouraging a wider breadth of early stage talent into user experience (UX) to support digital growth in the region were among the hot topics discussed at Shop Direct’s inaugural UX Cubed conference, which took place at its Liverpool HQ on 15 June.
The company, which has the biggest UX team in UK retail at 36 people, hosted the one-day event in its state of the art Cube conferencing facility in conjunction with Northern User Experience Liverpool and digital, marketing and design recruitment consultancy, Forward Role.
UX Cubed brought together the region’s UX teams, agencies, academics and students to hear insights from industry leaders from the BBC, MoneySupermarket, Rental Cars, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, ThoughtWorks, Liverpool Girl Geeks, User Zoom, Sigma, Content Square and What Users Do.
Sam Barton, head of UX at Shop Direct, commented on the event: “Our retail and technology director, Jon Rudoe, said in his opening address at UX Cubed that ‘things like this didn’t used to happen’, but we think it’s vital that they happen now, here in the North West.
“Through industry collaboration, we can start realising the big opportunities and solving the big challenges in UX and the wider North West digital sector.”
Highlights from the day included The BBC’s Ray Mosley talking about how UX professionals can be more influential; Liverpool Girl Geeks’ Chelsea Slater explaining how her organisation is giving girls from ‘generation Z’ unique opportunities to get into tech in the city; NUX and Sigma’s Chris Bush exploring inclusive usability in UX; MoneySupermarket’s Rich Clark highlighting how ‘sprints’ are helping his company to innovate at pace, and Iain Hennessey from Alder Hey showcasing how his team innovates to improve the children’s hospital and patient outcomes.
One of the main topics explored during the panel sessions was how to go about attracting more early stage talent into UX. Recent research from Shop Direct and Forward Role found that just one in four North West-based UX professionals planned for a career in the discipline and only 2% studied a UX-specific vocational course before starting their careers.
Sam Barton said: “There’s a lack of awareness around UX in the North West for would-be professionals and we want to change that.”
In the last six years, Shop Direct’s UX team has grown from six to 36 people. As well as running a successful internship programme, the team engages with universities to educate students about careers in UX.
Barton continued: “We see engaging with universities and students as crucial for our business, because the right awareness for the right people at the right time is vital in getting people into UX.
“Collaboration with other digital companies in the region is also critical if we’re to create the awareness, education and early stage opportunities to develop the talent for North West UX to continue being a success story.
“That’s why UX Cubed was important for us and why we’ll look to host similar events in future. Watch this space.”