If you want to get across the message that differentiation is an important concept in designing a user experience, then it would make sense to have a conference presentation about UX that is well differentiated from the rest. I think my fellow presentation panelists, Valeda Dent and Brian Mathews, and I did a good job of that at the recent 14th Annual ACRL Conference in Seattle. Rather than starting out by wading right into the basics of user experience we decided to start off with a fun – and relevant -Â activity for the crowd. If you attend the ACRL Conference, well, starting off a program with something fun and interactive would definitely be different.
Our program was titled “If Fish Markets Can Do It So Can Academic Libraries: Designing Memorable Library Experiences for Faculty and Students“, and we presented on a Sunday morning at 9:00 am. So we definitely wanted to kick things off with something different to get the audience engaged. After a quick start-off story about George Eastman’s Kodak camera and a “the experience is the product” message we jumped right into a 30-second video of the action at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle.
We used the metaphor of the fish market experience throughout our session, and tried to get our audience to think about how they could create experiences at their libraries.Â At the end of the video we jumped right into the first ever ACRL Fish Toss Competition. We invited four of our audience members to the front of the room to try their hand at throwing fish. Of course our fish were just stuffed bean bags, but everyone got the connection with the fish market. We were a little worried about getting volunteers, but loads of hands went up. I guess it didn’t hurt that we were offering some t-shirts and Starbucks cards to the participants.Â You can read more about the fish toss and the session here.
Obviously a good deal of behind the scenes planning went into the conceptualization and implementation of the program, right down to the timing of each activity and each panelist’s presenting time. But the time spent in advance paid off. I’d like to think that we delivered a unique and memorable conference experience for our attendees. At least one of them plans to make it a discussion topic in his library. Perhaps you will too.