The second edition of UX Bucharest, the first conference of this kind in the Eastern Europe, will take place at the beginning of October, gathering specialists in UX Design, Customer Experience, Product Management.

BR met with Calin Fara, founder the International Experience Design Conference in Bucharest, to find out more about the event, its growth and the UX Romanian Design Association’s plans.

By Romanita Oprea

When and how did the idea of launching the association dedicated to the UX design come up?

The idea came to us 2-3 years ago, during a group of friends that put the basis and on its feet the UX community in Bucharest. The association took official form almost a year ago, because there were a lot of aspects that had to be taken in account and resolved.

In what formula, who handled it and why was it / is it necessary this type of association?

The association want to reunite all the UX (and the collateral domains) specialists in Romania. It was needed this type of association because there is no official organism that would define this job/ occupation that is already extremely known in the IT field (even is not the only domain where it applies) and also there is no official contact point for those who want to find out information about this domain.

The need is distributed. In the industry is needed an “official” organism that will represent us and also a juridical form through which to be able to organize events, close partnerships, bring workshops and many more. Moreover, it’s needed to exist a sort of oficialization of the job we have that it was very vaguely understood and most of the times wrongly categorized as “interfaced design”.

The association was started by a remote group from the UX community in Bucharest, but it tries to co-opt (and it has already done it) specialists in all areas of the country. Especially in the areas of with a strong tech representation such as Iasi, Cluj, Timisoara. But, most of all, we had a vision.

What is the association’s team at this moment and what is everybody’s position?

Calin Fara – vision & strategy, funds raising, co-founder, Andrei Ganci , content manager, co-founder, Alexandru Pavelescu –  frontends and visuals, professional all-arounder, co-founder , Dianina Andrei – program manager, Magda Neagu – logistics and financial, Adina Constantinescu – PR, Catalin Stanciu, events management & logistics,  Raluca Vintila , events & logistics,  Grigore Alexandrescu – UX ambassadors, Alina Catalina Banuleasa and Tudor Juravlea – UX workshops, and the list closed. The whole team handles alongside other members from different other area, depending on, and related to the events we are doing, meet-ups , workshops, taking part at events or the event highlight of the community and association – the UX Bucharest conference.

What kind of projects are you organizing (besides the conference)? How are differentiating the events organized by you among them?

Meet-ups – some of type mini-conference with 3 speakers each, for example. Others dedicated to a certain important event – a speaker, a movie about design. Workshops with and about UX Design. Meetings of presenting the Association’s program and of discussing together with the members about the directions and the strategy we are following.

What results have you had so far?

The meetings, especially because they are different, have a participation of 35-40 up to 120 members. The UX Conference in 2015 had 250 participants and the one this will is expecting 350. We had over 5 workshops of UX on diverse themes where took part over 250 people in total. The results I believe that are more important in the awareness area. The rise of the understanding regarding this field not only from the behalf of the specialists, that is supposed that already know this thing, as well as from the behalf of those they are interacting and working with, stakeholders, product managers, HR people, engineering managers. Taking in account that their presence at meetings at the level of understanding has been growing a lot in the last years, we believe that there is a big win that we feel that we have contributed as well.

How solid is this specialization when it comes to the companies in Romania perspective?

In Romania there has always been a need for UX, but it’s encouraging that this level of understanding is changing in a clear way. Therefore, the real need is a vital one. In order to pass from the status of producers of cod lines to the one of creators of fabulous products and services

end-to-end is extremely important to cover all the layers needed in order to develop a product. From the idea part, the business one, the strategy and up to the implementation, testing and delivery. And the UX design and the CX occupy a vital role in this process – a Product Manager and an Engineering Manager need to work side by side with an UX Designer in order to be sure that the product they are building is truly what the users are expecting (the clients) they are targeting. The experience that is surrounding the whole product will make the difference between an usual product or one that is failing and one that is succeeding, that the users are loving.

UX Bucharest: the first edition took place in 2015. What were the most difficult stages of organizing the event back then?

Everything was difficult because we were a group that had never done that before, none of us. We were animated only by the trust, almost a crazy one, that we will succeed, the trust in the vision we had – the fact that the UX is and has to become in Romania an important field, a domain of which it can depend the developing of the whole tech industry. It seems I wasn’t wrong and, even we’ve consumed all of us an immense level of energy and own resources, the event was a successful one.

How has the conference evolved with the second edition – what has changed and why?

The main change was an organic one, required by our users, the people that we want as participants to the conference. We brought even more content, we’ve changed the structure of the workshops, bringing more learning sessions hands-on, we grew the number of places.

What learning tools exist for those who want a specialization in UX and where does this conference enter when it comes to this aspect?

There are many tools, but, unfortunately, none of them standard or official. This sis another aspect that the UX Romanian Association wants to bring changes to, working already at initiatives for bringing UX courses in universities. And because there is still a long way until we will have a generation of UX specialists ready for this in faculties and universities, we can choose between online classes, local workshops held by people with enough experience, online and offline UX books, internships and / or mentorship in UX (held in certain companies).

Including the UX Romanian Association offers access to online UX courses held by a partner organization with tradition (of 15 years!) from Denmark, offering also a discount for those who come through the Association.

Obviously, workshops can be held in other countries with tradition in UX as well (England, USA) or even specialized universities in the field (design, industrial design, etc)

What is the proportion of participants in terms of companies’ managers / CX specialists / UX senior designers / beginners?

A good sign is exactly the growth of the proportion of managers and people in collateral fields – marketing, HR, Product management, engineering that are taking part in a larger number at our events. We can say that the proportion is 60 percent UX specialists, 40 percent collateral domains, from the specialists in UX 30 percent are seniors and 30 percent middle level, 40 percent starters.

How are you promoting the event, what works the best and why?

We are promoting it both through classical channels – social media, newsletters, indoor and outdoor media, as well as through channels that are functioning very well, I would say even very good – personal networking and word of mouth. This “Word of mouth” is also supported by the quality of the previous edition that was at the level of an international event.

What is the goal of the event – local vs. international?

Locally, the goal of the conference is in the first place one of learning and awareness. Because it addresses the UXD professionals and those in collateral domains – management, design, marketing, HR, the conference has also a strong goal of growing the level of understanding about what it means experience design, what is the impact it can have over a product.

Obviously, at an event of such a proportion, we cannot neglect the marketing component.

Internationally, we want to put the UX design in Romania on Europe’s map.

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