2017 AWWWARDS London – February, 2-3

February 03, 2017 - Written by

Surrounded by the stunning location of Grand Connaught Rooms in the centre of London, we are attending the 2017 AWWARDS event. Two inspiring days where digital architects, pixel visionaries and thought leaders reveal their best-kept secrets. Find further below a few of the speeches that impressed us most.

A travel in Hyper-reality

We’re invited to sit back, relax and put on our 3D glasses (included in our welcome kit). An amazing start by Keiichi Matsuda, designer and film-maker, who introduces us in a Hyper-Reality travel. The six-minutes movie depicts a kaleidoscopic world, blurring the boundaries between virtual and reality.
We travel in the perspective of the protagonist in a futuristic “liquid” city, which is the result of the collection of different places, a “subjective space”, dominated by the “mediation” of an immersive technology. Interactive interfaces pop-up everywhere to steal her attention, while the predominant business adverts and alerts influence the perception of the physical space, as they become a part of it. People are wrapped up in an introverted dimension, while personal identities are the direct expression of their social platforms. The dialogs and the information exchange happen with avatars not between humans, the questions are posed to digital interfaces. “Technologies such as VR, augmented reality, wearables, and the internet of things are pointing to a world where technology will envelop every aspect of our lives” Matsuda says. The movie has a provocative aim, as he uses design and interactive media to address the implications of emerging technologies for human perception.

Beauty or trends?

In her ‘Aestethic in digital design: beauty or trends?’ speech Aude Degrassat makes us think about beauty. What makes a digital project beautiful? How do aestethic trends impose themselves on the digital world? Is beauty necessary? Are there any commons rules for beauty?

Beauty matters as aesthetic impressions are fast, consequential and above all enduring. They address directly to our perception and can be influenced by several different factors such as media influences, individual personalities and cultural beliefs.
To create beauty basically we need to transcend rules and integrate the unexpected or evolve knowledge in new ways. Many thinks that beauty in digital is based on short-lived trends, as a sort of reaction to what has become mainstream. But digital beauty is an evolving language and most of the digital trends are supported by technique innovations and user experience improvements:

  • Interactive and spectacular effects break the limitation of web design
  • Tipography and the increasing availability of Web-friendly fonts allow to approach the quality of printed paper
  • Better image quality is fostered by HD screens and faster connections
  • Skeumorphism helps making the layout more familiar and intuitive
  • Flat elements and grid based design as well as app-like layouts allow users to have the same experience on any device, desktop, tablet or mobile

Digital trends are therefore the celebration of new possibilities: people first use them because they’re new, then because it makes sense. They expand the possibilities for creating beauty. But beauty doesn’t come from trends, as they are a tool to shape beauty. Beauty comes from uniqueness and speaks to humans. We don’t think beauty, we feel it. An empathetic design considers emotions, mood and cultural predilections, to educate our eyes and unlock our minds. It adapts naturally to a brand’s DNA and it helps to create works of great beauty for people, with people.

Conversational UX Design

Empathy is a recurrent term also used by Adrian Zumbrunnen from Google, who shares his interesting perspective on Conversational UX Design using chatbots on his own site. He starts with a real story. He lost his wallet, then received an email where the guy who found it got in touch to bring it back to him. He asked how did the guy managed to find him and the response was “We had a chat on your site!”. He didn’t realize that the conversation was with a bot and not with a human. According to Ted Livingston, the founder and CEO of Kik, a chat network with more than 240 million registered users, “Chat apps will be the new browser; bots will be the new websites. This is the beginning of a new Internet”. But what makes interfaces more conversational?

  1. Writing. Great writing and user understanding are the pillars of good conversational design. Suggestions can shape and drive the conversation too.
    The point is clear: we should not only understand the users’ intent but also anticipate and meet users’ expectations in any given situation, creating a smooth and natural process at any point of interaction. This can be highly helped by transitions, animations and motions which become part of the conversation.
  2. Context. Another important takeaway is to integrate context into the conversations by rethinking content creation. Context can help in shaping the conversation, while suggestions generate intent and design can respond afterwards to that intent. As an example people who access Adrian’s site coming from a UX site or newsletter are surprise by the bot starting the conversation asking if he’s in the UX field too.
  3. Timing. Timing as well as a hesitance in response can influence the experience and give of a more natural conversation. Adding a typing animation and a variable delay according to the length of the message helps to avoid the feeling of talking to a bot.
  4. Delight. Recognizing a returning visitor, asking for permission for push notifications or delivering unobtrusive and valuable content can be strongly appreciated by users and all can help with their progressive onboarding.

Chatbots are fascinating because stimulate us to rethink our mental models and how we manage the conversations we have with our clients.

That said, will we arrive at a point when our chat will talk together?

The incredible story of Seb Lester makes us laugh and cry, closing these two-days sessions with a strong positive message: anyone can achieve almost anything in life. Self belief is critical, hard work and focus are a major factor, but the most important is to pursue a passion.
And the winner is…Time has come for the prize-giving. E-Commerce site of the year is Protest Sportswear by Build in Amsterdam, site of the Year is Falter Inferno by Wild, Agency of the Year to RESN New Zealand.

We’ve not found our #AWWARDSBUDDY to participate to the contest and win a ticket to the next Awwwards event in Los Angeles. The game is definitely a good opportunity for networking and met people from all around the world. Hope to try again next year!

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