In November 2011, I led VMware’s very first internal conference for its user experience community, with the creative title VMware User Experience (vUE). VMware’s user experience community is spread across the whole company. There’s my team, which works on the vCloud Suite and related products. There’s a few other small user experience teams across the company, in places like Customer Advocacy and Socialcast. And there’s a lot of interaction designers who are embedded with their teams, one or two people sprinkled here and there throughout the company. Our goal for the first vUE was simple: get everyone together for two days and get to know each other. We ended up with 60 people attending, representing a diverse array of products, with people coming from as far away as Sofia, Bulgaria; Herzliya, Israel; and Sydney, Australia.
After vUE 2011, we instituted some new practices to help our user experience community keep its momentum going. I created and am leading a series of UX tech talks, in which we as a community come together and share our experience and expertise about user experience. The UX tech talk series isn’t limited to just user experience people, and we usually get ~100 people attending each tech talk. We also have a monthly UX all-hands meeting, which is led by one of our Directors of User Experience at VMware, and gives us an opportunity to share things that are of interest to the whole community.
I’m also chairing vUE 2013 . We’ve had the opportunity to meet each other, and we now have other ways to keep in touch and be able to share our expertise. This time, our goal is to build upon all of that, and talk about ways that we can improve the user experience at VMware. We have 22 UX people across the company who are going to give technical talks (10-20 minutes each) about a topic that they’re passionate about, and we have several invited talks, including each of our Directors of User Experience as well as members of our executive team. We’re also having breakout sessions to give everyone a chance to dive deeper into specific topics, and the all-important social event to share cocktails and swap stories of user experience.
vUE 2013 is five weeks away, and we’re wrapping up all of the final details. I’ve got a great committee to help me out, and I’ve also worked to ensure that we’re set up for success for vUE 2014. We’ve already identified the vUE 2014 conference chair and technical chair, and they are responsible for everything. I will act as a mentor to them as they go through everything, and I’ve tried to document what I think they’ll need to know, but I won’t be on the committee myself. vUE needs to continue to grow and evolve, which means that it can’t have the same person running it.
I’ve got a lot to do in the next five weeks, but it’s going to be worth it. vUE 2011 was a smashing success, and I’m hopeful that we exceed the high bar that we set for ourselves.