UX Australia Sketchnotes

I’ve been watching Mike Rohde, the unchallenged King of Sketchnotes, for a while now, with a “why didn’t I think of that?” attitude and a healthy side order of “get your ass into gear and start doing that too!”

This year’s UX Australia conference served as a perfect place to get started. Considering how smart & inspiring most of the speakers were, I had the right amount of “yeaaaah!” to almost get myself going. Considering that I taught a workshop called “Scribble Your Way to Success!” – during which I taught people who thought that they couldn’t draw that this belief was complete bullshit – I had the right amount of guilt to actually get myself going.

So, instead of spending hours agonising over the best way to describe the best UX conference I’ve ever attended, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

UX Australia 2009: Sketchnote 01UX Australia 2009: Sketchnote 02UX Australia 2009: Sketchnote 03UX Australia 2009: Sketchnote 04UX Australia 2009: Sketchnote 05UX Australia 2009: Sketchnote 06UX Australia 2009: Sketchnote 07UX Australia 2009: Sketchnote 08UX Australia 2009: Sketchnote 09UX Australia 2009: Sketchnote 10

What I learned from these sketchnotes (other than the smart things the speakers said):

  • Sketchnoting makes for stronger, more memorable notes than just text notes. I assuming this has lots to do with the left/right brain activity I talked about in my workshop.
  • The paper in the Windsor & Newtown visual diary I’ve ben using is too thin, and there’s quite a lot of bleed-through. I also miss the warm tone of Moleskine paper, so I’ll be going back to the good old Moleskine sketchbook with the thick drawing paper.
  • I’m not confident enough with sketching people, so I dodged the portraits through the whole conference, although I did draw half of Alex Wright, a little Paul Otlet, and Guillermo Torres and Ayne Valencia’s hair. Next time I’ll suck it up and see if I can’t get closer to Mike Rohde’s great little portraits. Being afraid to suck at something shouldn’t keep me from trying.
  • Other than the fact that he’s a far better illustrator than I, Mike Rodhe’s sketchnotes hang together so well due to the simple, consistent elements and the large text, among other things. I’ll emulate those aspects of his notes a little closer next time.

What these sketchnotes don’t convey about UX Australia was how surprised and impressed I was with the sense of community in the Australian UX scene. By way of comparison, last year’s IA Summit in Memphis was full of navel-gazing, rockstar posturing, and no small amount of friction, which left me with little desire to attend in 2010. Now that UX Australia exists, I know I won’t have to. It was full of practical ideas that I can use in my work, fun jibes at how seriously we sometimes take ourselves, and intense conversation between intelligent, grounded individuals. By the time Friday night arrived, I wanted to start a company with all attendees so we could do this sort of thing every day.

It’s been said many times already, but here’s mine: congratulations to Donna Spencer, Steve Baty and all their helpers for not only hammering a stake into the ground of the international UX scene, but also hosting one of the best conferences I’ve ever been to. I can’t wait for UX Australia in Melbourne next year!