Design & UX
Article
By Lisa Herrod

Four events to keep you learning

By Lisa Herrod
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I wouldn’t call myself a conference junkie by any means, I’d be lucky to attend one or two a year. And I certainly don’t think of myself as the eternal student, but when I gave it some thought a few minutes ago, I realised that I’ve studied, while working, for ten out of the last 14 years… So it got me thinking, and I’m pretty sure what it comes down to is that I like to learn new things.

Now, given that you’re on a Sitepoint blog reading about Usability, it seems to me that perhaps you like learning new things too…

In any case, one of things I frequently lament is the cost of attending overseas conferences and the distance Australia is from the rest of the conference-hosting world. So, it gives me great pleasure and a mild dose of illicit delight to share with you a few upcoming Australian conferences that focus on or include user experience topics.

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OZ-IA
OZ-IA is a conference that’s held in Sydney over the weekend of September 22nd and 23rd. It’s primary focus is on Information Architecture, though there are also presentations on related topics as diverse asEthics, Analysing quantitative data and Multidimensional tagging frameworks.

While OZ-IA is new on the scene, it seems to have really strong local support and is jam-packed over the two days with “presentations, panels, workshops, and inter-session activities”.

Web Directions South
Arguably the biggest web conference in Australia this year, Web Directions is a four day event that commences with two days of workshops followed by two days of conference presentations and a web expo. Also in Sydney, Web Directions runs from September 25th to 29th and boasts a three-stream program brimming with local and overseas presenters. While not all of the presentations focus on user experience, there are certainly a few, including one by [shameless plug] me on web usability and another by Stephen Cox on ethnography. Oh and did I mention George Oates of Flickr fame talking about user experience in online communities? I can’t wait for that one!

OZCHI
Pronounced ‘Oz-Chai’, this conference is “Australia and New Zealand’s leading forum for work in all areas of human-computer interaction”. This one tends to have more of an academic focus than the previous two conferences above, and also presents the widest range of user experience subjects, including usability, interaction design, artificial intelligence and ergonomics. This year the conference theme is Entertaining User Interfaces, but the final program has yet to be published. Another bonus is that it’s being held in Adelaide (isn’t that near the Barossa…?!) , so it looks like I might be able to squeeze a little side trip out of that one.

This years OZCHI conference runs from November 28th to 30th.

OZeWAI
The primary focus of the OZeWAI (Ozzie way) conference is website accessibility and this year’s theme looks at Web 2.0 and accessibility. Held in Melbourne from December 5th to 7th, three highly regarded web presenters have been announced as the keynote speakers this year:
– Prof. Eva Méndez Rodriguez, Universidad Carlos III. Madrid, Spain
– Roger Hudson: Web Usability
Russ Weakley: Australian Museum

The conference has yet to announce its full program, but lists a few accessibility related topics on the home page.

So there you have it, four local, user-focussed conferences to keep you learning over the next three months… I’m hoping to squeeze all of them in this year. I know it’s going to be an effort, but I’ve got to at least give it a try!

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