Berlin, 8.-9. 6. 2019
It is Friday evening in Berlin and we’re setting up the last details at Erwin-Schrödinger-Zentrum for tomorrow’s big event. We’re preparing the session rooms, put up signs throughout the venue, have last-minute adjustments with the caterer, and frantically hammer pins into the session board. Granted, that last part was only somewhat necessary.
The mood is calm and focused but there is one single thought on all our minds: How will it go? There is only so much you can prepare in advance and we arrived at the end of these preparations, tomorrow it is time to let everything take its course.
We’re driving to the venue of the warm-up party. A few hundred people already showed up and are having a good time – plenty of hellos, discussion, and laughter all around. Things are going great.
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It is Saturday morning and UXcamp Europe is in full swing. Almost six hundred people came to Berlin, and although we have our European perspective in our name, some even came from countries as far as Brazil, Mexico, Taiwan, and the USA. We do our little song and dance, we welcome everybody to the event, we make sure everyone feels right at home among so many like-minded peers. We thank our generous and wonderful sponsors.
And then we invite everybody to pitch their sessions and fill the session board with the program of the day. This is always the moment that determines the spirit of the event. Will the participants contribute a session? Will they be interested in the sessions proposed? Besides all the organization in advance, this is the part we never dare to take a hand in. UXcamp Europe is a by-the-community-for-the-community thing and just like every year we’re once again overwhelmed by the level of contribution. Things are going great.
Over two days participants contributed one hundred and ten talks, workshops, and discussions. Some were polished presentations that filled the large auditorium, some were small and intimate affairs. Some spoke to universal ideas in our field, some examined very niche topics. Some presenters routinely speak at large conferences, some dared to do so for their very first time. All were great.
The range of session topics speaks to the diversity of the community and to the maturity of User Experience as a discipline. We covered the spectrum from beginner questions like user research and usability to advanced issues like digital transformation and strategic design. We covered many points of influence designers have in their work, from shaping a product to developing a strategy to leading a team to deciding on ethical implications. We covered a wide array of outcomes, be it services, websites, apps, voice interfaces, augmented reality, or physical environments. And we covered a diverse range of industries, including commerce, healthcare, urban planning, and humanitarian aid.
The sessions are the one thing we never plan for and never want to plan, and we were just blown away by every single one.
It is Sunday evening and UXcamp Europe has finished. We do the final closing session with everyone, we thank all participants and helpers and sponsors, we announce the date for next year’s event. And then we say goodbye.
As people are leaving the venue, cleaning up as they go, we realize what just happened here: A great and diverse community came together not just to discuss and learn but also to celebrate our common motivation. Making an impact through design is what drives all of us and the community that formed around UXcamp Europe is a unique expression of this motivation. And while we as the hosts can plan for many parts of the event, we cannot plan for everybody being nice and open and supportive to each other. In other words, things were going great.
It is now a week after UXcamp Europe happened. We’re still excited and also a little exhausted by everything that took place. We want to thank every sponsor for their support, the Humboldt University for inviting us into their place, every provider for the food and parties and security and assistance.
But most of all we want to thank you, the community. By design no one at UXcamp Europe gets paid to present a session or gets to skip work to participate – everything happens because people are motivated to make it happen. We said this before but it bears repeating: UXcamp Europe is a one-of-a-kind event with a one-of-a-kind community. Don’t take this for granted and don’t forget to enjoy every moment of it!
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