SustainableUX 2018 retrospective

The third SustainableUX conference was streamed live on February 15, 2018.

SustainableUX is about empowering digital makers with techniques and ideas they apply to make a positive impact on planet, communities, and business.

Our 2018 speakers covered topics from the philosophical to pragmatic, from behavioral psychology and a live code demonstration. Read on for a full list—and all our previous talks are available to rewatch straight from our website.

Conference impact

SustainableUX attracts a diverse global audience. The 400+ ticket holders included founders, professors, project managers, UX designers, and web developers hailing from public and private industries, including Amazon, Bloomberg, National Wildlife Federation, Shopify, Spotify, and higher ed. Countries represented include, basically most of them. Most of the countries.

SustainableUX 2018 is a free event but this year we encouraged attendees to donate to a range of envionmental and climate policy non-profits as token of thanks to our speakers.

Conference by the numbers:

Donations reported: $10,000
Talks: 12
Ticket holders: 434

2018 talks in a nutshell

Ends: Improve Off-Boarding and Add Responsibility to Consumption

Joe Macleod maps the consumer experience onto the consumer engagement model, breaking down the consumer experience into three stages: on-boarding, usage, and off-boarding. The off-boarding end experience is overlooked and lost endings clutter our homes: the average U.S. household has 300,000 objects. The ideal end stage connects to the rest of the experience through actionable, emotional triggers. Joe provides a six-question framework for doing an ends audit.

Planet as Patient: What Conservation Can Learn From Health Psychology

What motivates people? Desire with velocity, says Amy Bucher. Comparisons are made to a public health success story of behavior change: smoking. What can sustainability learn from the psychology and tactics behind smoking cessation? Amy concludes with behavior change lessons that can be applied to real life projects.

Digital Meets Physical: The Power to Influence Sustainable Behavior IRL

Kristin Cheek bridges the divide between the digital and physical worlds. What we do in the physical world is based, in part, by our experience with digital products; Kristin breaks down the importance of considering behavioral and environmental impact in the design process. Knowing the lines of digital and physical will continue to blur, how can we work across boundaries? Kristin’s techniques tap into adapting existing design processes.

Skeletons in Our E-closets: The Impact of Wasteful Digital Storage

One data center produces enough energy in a day to power 65,000 homes—Amanda Sopkin uses numbers on the current state of digital storage. Numbers suggest that instead of leveraging our power to create minimal solutions for our problems, we gorge ourselves on seemingly limitless space. Amanda focuses on day-to-day changes that decrease carbon footprint and improve personal productivity.

Dirty Digital Humanities: From iPhones to eWaste

Amanda Starling Gould confronts myth: devices are sold to us as “magical” and exist in the “cloud”. When we believe the imaterial stories we are told, says Amanda, we forget the beginnings, ends, and material middles. Plastiglomerate, for example, is a new type of geological formation when waste plastics fuse to ocean sand—making, in a sense, digital memory. Amanda shows examples of models of greener tech use.

Developing People Through Design

A case study from Chenny Xia and Markus Grupp asks, how might we create learning opportunities for those living in poverty, in order to create a more sustainable future for all? They flipped the idea of “the 1%” by asking: what if the top 1% served the bottom 1%? The result shows the shift from prescriptive to participant-led and resource-intensive to financially self-stable.

Instant Mobile Web: An Accelerated Mobile Pages Primer

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an open-source framework to create instantly loading mobile pages. Lisa Huang argues that using AMP can alleviate the issues of the impact of the internet on climate change, social equality, and inclusion. Lisa covers mobile web challenges and whether “to AMP or not to AMP”, concluding with a live code demo.

Reporting Climate Change

How do you make complex thinking accessible to a broader audience? Flow Bohl walks through the user experience side of turning a research-intensive annual report into user-friendly website. Talking to users produced one killer insight that informed the rest of the design process. Flow describes practical principles that can improve product focus.

Fostering Plural Ontologies & Artificials in the Age of the Great Devourer

Ahmed Ansari uses an academic lens to connect design and global fragmentation. Thousands of years ago, there were many different worlds co-existing, contributing to trade, and exchanging ideas and technologies. Our ability to imagine a sustainable future world is contingent on what we know to be true today. Ahmed says designers need think beyond this, using design as a tool to show plural future worlds, co-existing the way they used to.

Persistent Fools: Cunning Intelligence and the Politics of Design

Thomas Wendt proposes that all design is deceptive and manipulative. If designers can better understand the relationship, they will be better equipped to deal with social and political complexity. Thomas compares words from the designer’s vocabulary to the sinister origins: to “devise plans” and create “devices” comes from the word “contrive”. Thomas points to examples of critical design and its implementations.

New In Town: On Addressing Gentrification Within the Tech Industry

If you have the privilege to relocate for a job, this talk is about you, says Erica Fox. Gentrification has impacts on displaced communities but also the gentrifiers themselves: as people who don’t write code have to move out, people who do write code miss out from the displaced products and services. Erica compares Detroit to Seattle with the downfall of the rust belt and the manufacturing industry. Erica ends with what the web community can do to prevent it.

How To Build a Planet Friendly Web

Chris Adams proposes a mental model for how to think about emissions on the web: your packets, your platform, and your processes. Chris’ talk is packed with resources on building a planet-friendly web.

Thank you to all of our dedicated speakers for being part of SustainableUX 2018!

Watch the talks and read the #sustainableux hashtag for more day-of coverage. For ongoing conference announcements and community news, follow @sustainableux.