My UXPH Conference 2020 Experience

John McLem Adan
4 min readNov 23, 2020

Last November 14–15, UXPH (User Experience Philippines) virtually held their annual conference with the theme Designers As Navigators of Change. UXPH is a Filipino non-profit design community organization that hosts the largest network of design professionals, enthusiasts, and students in the Philippines. They seek to uplift and push forward the practice of design in the country and help push the Philippines forward.

UXPH CONF 2020 image banner
UXPH CONF 2020 speakers

At first, I got interested in the said conference but I lost my enthusiasm when I knew about its admission fee. Also, I thought that it wasn’t suited to me because I’m not a designer, and the conferences that I usually and previously attended before are those that are primarily intended for developers, coders, programmers, and software engineers (eg. DEVCON Summit and GDG DevFest). But luckily and surprisingly, I was given a chance to attend without paying a single penny. On one side, I didn’t know what to expect from a virtual conference and from one that is not targeted to people of my profession. But I realized that working as a developer also makes me some sort or kind of a designer because I get to build and/or maintain web apps so I somehow help design the web in one way or another. With that, I saw it instead as an opportunity to upskill and also a way to know more about design and UX and learn how it relates to the field of web development.

The packed 2-day online event featured talks, workshops, and panel discussions on research methodologies, design management, design methods, and a whole lot more, that it became overwhelming, in a good way, for me to absorb and digest things.

UXPH CONF 2020

So far, these are the highlight of my takeaways from the conference.

In view of UX and design, UX is not: designing wireframes; coding or programming; A/B testing; and definitely, it’s not user testing.

On the other hand, UX: uses the scientific method; helps build user needs in the right way; follows the design thinking process; and requires half research skills and half people skills.

While design: is a diverse collection and ways of thinking strategically; needs a clear rationale and objective decision-making; and doesn’t matter if the user can’t figure out how to use your product.

In practicing design as a profession (and may also apply to some non-designer roles as well), these are some great pointers to take note of: creating a culture of experimentation; being comfortable with failures; failing early, learning faster; and that it’s not a matter of if, but when (you fail).

In the facet of web content accessibility, I realized how crucial and important it is to be inclusive whenever I’m building a product or service. It is known how fast technology evolves but it should also be considered that users with disabilities should not be left behind and be able to adapt to the pace.

When it comes to the aspect of culture and psychology in working with teams, I also came to know and realized that: I don’t change people, I understand them; Emotion is a feeling in a given moment or situation while behavior is a set of actions; I control my behavior, not my emotion; I don’t have choices for my emotions, but I do have choices when it comes to how I behave (manifesting my emotions); Anxiety is not a weakness of character; Culture is the environment people are in, something that is done even with a lack of a directive; I should be the one managing my team’s culture, and not the other way around; Knowledge is not power, but it is potential power; Being accurate in what I say is being kind; Not all ‘hip’ cultures out there are fit for any kind of company, assess it first (eg. open-office setup for developers or researchers); and that there is no such thing as a bad culture. There is either a lack of communication or miscommunication.

Lastly but not least, from the community and organization itself, I was inspired by how UXPH is starting to gain a foothold in the country, from simply building a network of design enthusiasts, students, and professionals to making an impact in society through their own initiatives on community development, industry research, student development, academic development, and professional development. These things are some of what I will look forward to with my community organization in the foreseeable future.

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John McLem Adan

Multipod. Startups. Neurodivergent. Tech Communities. Registered Marketing Professional. Strategic. Learner. Deliberative. Ideation. Empathy | INTJ-T