This Tuesday was the initial first UX For Life meetup, held at Unboxed HQ.

Hosted by Leon Odey-Knight and Alice Richmond, UX For Life is a meetup group consisting of lightning talks which delve even deeper into the user experience of our existence. This is the meetup for every human who has ever used a product or has had intrigue in this world we live in…

The format is simple:

  • A short introduction
  • 3 x lightning talks on various areas of UX in our lives
  • A Q&A after each talk

Talk 1: The UX of the Gents

Steve Parks


Steve is CEO of Convivio - a boutique agency designing and developing digital services for innovative public and private sector organisations.

Steve Parks

Steve’s lightning talk focused primarily around the UX of the gents loos…

The way gent’s loos are currently designed is terrible. So terrible that this leads to health problems. You know there’s an issue when various signage begins to appear – what on earth were people doing for these signs to go up?! There’s something clearly going wrong with the UX and we need to address the user’s key needs here.

A typical male bathroom situation consist of the bizarre rules that are set in place, which include:

  • Taking the urinal slot furthest away from anyone else
  • Having the maximum distance from others in the urinal line
  • Absolutely no conversation to happen

These rules are just part of the current user discomfort of the gent’s toilets.

But the biggest risk of this user discomfort is the health issue - the bacteria that can spread. Users don’t take this into consideration and don’t wash their hands. They simply want to:

  1. Have a pee
  2. Have minimal proximity in the facility
  3. Get back to the rest of their life as quickly as possible

The result of this is that over 30% of males don’t wash their hands after using the loo (this includes those who go for an “express wash” – i.e. a swift splash of water).

So why aren’t men washing their hands?

There are a number of hurdles that are in the way:

  • A sign at the sink – ‘DANGER! HOT WATER!’ – people say: “Oh, I’d better stay away from that then…”
  • The sign mentions hot water – “Why not make it less hot?”
  • Then there’s the complicated tap design – “How on earth does it work? Is it a handle? Is it a touch tap? I can’t get the water out”

By the time these questions could have be answered, people have left the bathroom. Hands unwashed. And even when they finally overcome the complicated hand-washing experience, there’s then the drying aspect: “Where is the hand dryer? I can’t find it. Oh, it’s so hidden away that I couldn’t see it”. And when hands are washed and dried, the issue of the same door you touched to enter the bathroom has to be re-touched when leaving…

So the big problem we’re trying to solve here is: “How do we get gents to wash their hands properly for the greater good and for better health for all of us?”

Talk 2: Train Announcements

Alex Lemon


Alex is a Content UX & Strategy at Convivio - a boutique agency designing and developing digital services for innovative public and private sector organisations.

Alex Lemon

Alex’s lightning talk ventured into the UX of verbal announcements and how we interact with these on a daily basis.

  • We regularly hear: “We would like to apologise for the delay and inconvenience caused…” – if you’re saying: “We would like to apologise”, why don’t you just apologise?
  • These types of announcements are often grammatically incorrect, so why don’t we simplify these sayings?
  • There is the aspect of content and context – there are things in announcements which need to be covered (including the legals, etc.) but sometimes people just want to know “why?”
  • Major airlines have tried time-and-time again to make us listen (i.e. through slightly comedic announcements) but the trouble with “funning” these up is that people just don’t remember the information, they only remember the fun parts

In conclusion:

  • There needs be a lot more user research into what helps people listen better
  • Customer service jargon is taking us away from speaking normally in business, and is taking us away from speaking like humans
  • Jargon makes it a lot easier for us to make announcements sound impersonal

Talk 3: UX-ing my life

Leon Odey-Knight


Leon is Design Lead at Unboxed – London’s most experienced Ruby on Rails development agency, specialising in agile and lean practices.

Leon Odey-Knight

Leon’s lightning talk was based on the idea of mapping out the UX of his life, titled: ‘My life as a user’. Leon has summarised his talk below:

Most of us here spend our day to day lives trying to identify and understand user needs. We use various methods to do this such as:

  • Personas
  • Stakeholder Interviewing
  • Consumer Journey Mapping
  • Ecosystem Mapping
  • Brainstorming, etc…

But that’s our job.

It got me thinking. How big a part does UX play in a broader sense?

Are the decisions that I make always based on the most convenient solution or is there something else at play?

  • Do my emotions sway my judgement?
  • Does it depend on the time of day?
  • The day of the week?
  • What I’ve eaten for breakfast, how well I’ve slept?

Are our experiences unique to us?

All good questions but before I could get into it that deeply I needed a baseline. I thought I’d start small. So I went for a typical day for me before leaving the house for work. If I mapped out those 70 minutes in detail and really thought about it, how many interactions would I have had?

Could those interactions really be classed as 'User Experiences’?

Leon Odey-Knight 2

Was I the only one out there asking this question? Turns out I’m not! The web is awash with blogs, papers and articles discussing the UX of many of my interactions. From the sink basin, using the toilet, taking the stairs to washing your hands.

Next steps... Take one item from my list and create a high level experience map.

(T25) Exercise it is!

Leon Odey-Knight 3

From here I intend to do the same for each of my interactions.

I don’t know where this will take me and I’m not sure what I’ll learn. But I’m already enjoying the journey.

I’ll keep you posted!