UX Book Club Amsterdam #1

Tuesday, December 8th, we had the first issue of the UX Book Club Amsterdam chapter.

Dirk Geurs and myself along with Bart Schoenmakers had seen the runaway international success of UX Book Clubs and wondered why there wasn’t an Amsterdam edition yet. I visited the Zuid-Holland edition organized by Jeroen van Geel when I was still living in Delft and that was definitely a lot of fun.

Because it’s an open source initiative, having this itch means you get to scratch it yourself. So we got cracking. We rounded up some interest (thanks Peter Boersma), made a page on the wiki and one on LinkedIn (Join the LinkedIn Group if you want to participate!) and got it underway.

One hurdle (or maybe I should call it an advantage) is that because none of us can provide a location1, we need somebody in the book club to sponsor every event. This is some extra work but it also adds some variety to every event. Also, if you want to participate and your office has room to spare to have 10-15 people talk about a book for an hour or two, get in touch!

The event

The first event was graciously hosted by Stijn Nieuwendijk from valsplat. An awesome user research (very important!) firm based in Amsterdam.

The first book the group chose to read was “The Back of the Napkin” by Dan Roam about clarifying ideas and solving problems using simple drawing and visual methods.

There was food (though we shouldn’t count on this in the future):

There was discussion:
Book Club Discussion

And there were back of the napkin sketches, this one depicting the UX Book Club process:
UX Book Club Flow

The discussion was too wide spread and far to summarize coherently, but I think I can try a one paragraph version:

The main concensus was that The Back of the Napkin was not a complicated but still quite a good book with some simple methods to use drawing and visual problem solving in a business context. For UX practitioners who are already well versed with visual methods, drawing and dealing with large amounts of information, the techniques laid out in the book may be overly familiar. I still thought it was nice to have everything laid out in a coherent framework. All in all an interesting book, but more suited for our non-visual colleagues.

Looking forward

The event being a success we are now looking forward to the next one. It’s not a very difficult event to organize (though it is a lot more work than you would suspect) but having one under the belt can only make the next one easier and better. We now already have a venue for the next event (to be announced shortly) and will be starting the book choice.

For the book choice we are still looking for a method that will ensure enough interest so that the people voting for the final book will also be present for the event.

So stay tuned, watch the LinkedIn group and I hope to see you at a future UX Book Club.

  1. Though my office situation has changed very recently.

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