UPA Europe thank you
The first European conference of the Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA), which was dedicated to Usability and Design, is more than a week away but the high quality of the event still lingers.

The conference, which took place in Turin, Italy, was inspired by the designation of the city as the first World Design Capital and by the locally grown international movement of Slow Food, to focus on design and the importance of cultural diversity.

Conference participants were enthusiastic about the quality of the presenters and the presentations, the impeccable organisation, the general atmosphere of collaboration, and the many opportunities for informal networking. And let’s not forget the (slow) food.

Many presenters emphasised the need to go beyond usability analysis and to take those insights further into initial design concepts. Also the need for cultural sensitivity was strongly on people’s minds: usability is no longer about localisation of interfaces, but about understanding cultural diversity, which goes far beyond linguistic translations.

Unusually, this conference was paperless. A dedicated and easy-to-use mobile device, called SpotMe, allowed participants to check the schedule, view presentations, find out who is sitting around them, message other conference goers, exchange address information, and be informed about everything else the city has on offer.

Meanwhile nearly all the presentations are available online and they are worthwhile exploring. Indulge yourself on the talks by Elizabeth Churchill of Yahoo! Research, Chan-il Kim of the Institute of Design, IIT, Mike Glaser of SpankDesign, Michele Visciola of Experientia, Anxo Cereijo Roibàs of Vodafone Global, Giorgio Venturi, Daria Loi of Intel (not yet online), and much, much more.

While you are at it, you may also want to browse the photo gallery, and sniff up the atmosphere.

The conference was chaired by Silvia Zimmerman of the Swiss Usability Learning Center and Michele Visciola of Experientia. The impeccable organisation was in the sure hands of Cristina Lobnik.

The idea of a European UPA conference definitely took hold. The question is now who will volunteer for the UPA Europe 2009 conference. But book your calendars for 2010 when Munich, Germany will be the host city for the global UPA 2010 conference, the regional UPA Europe 2010 conference and the UPA Germany 2010 conference!