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Uber design night: coming together to learn, engage, and inspire

5 de julio de 2022 / Global

Written by Veronica Chung, Design Program Manager

A warm and sunny spring day comes along only ever so often in Amsterdam, and this year was no exception. You would be hard-pressed to find a single wooden dock along the Amstel river on a warm day that isn’t laid with sun-bathing families and friends. Though on this specific sunny Wednesday, over 120 guests from surrounding areas chose to spend their time with us at the Uber Amsterdam office. What for, you ask?

Design night. An evening hosted by Uber’s Amsterdam Design team consisting of speaker presentations, networking, and of course—dinner and drinks. The in-person event returned to our office after nearly 3 years as COVID restrictions eased in the Netherlands! 

But how did it all start? 

The team recognized the incredible network of designers in our surrounding areas outside of Uber and wanted to create a welcoming environment for like-minded peers to meet, mingle, and inspire. 

The first Design night was one of the few places for the then Amsterdam UX community to get together. Soon after, we organized the next event and invited external speakers to share their experiences. Over the past years, we’ve had a wide variety of speakers with themes around accessibility, way-finding, and global design. Speakers are generally makers and share the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

“Design night is important for connecting with the wider design community in the Netherlands and sharing stories of failures and successes.”

Jenny Morrice, Senior Design Program Manager at Uber

Every design night is focused on connection and conversation. It is not for recruitment or sales. We believe in connecting our community and creating a safe space to learn from each other. The majority of attendees are up-and-coming designers eager to learn about other companies, but equally want to share what they have experienced. For Uber, it’s a way to discuss our own design thinking, systems and operations and bring forth learnings on how we can better improve to ultimately create even better experiences.

Spotlighting accessibility 

The theme of our most recent design night was accessibility. We are fortunate to have design and product talent among our teams that dedicate themselves to considering and encouraging others to consider users of differing needs when designing for our platforms. The pandemic has brought access to the forefront of our minds, and we felt that accessibility was the perfect topic for us to highlight. It is a word that, although seemingly used every day, represents a vast breadth and depth of considerations. From color contrasts and translations to navigation and alternative texts, the topics are endless and ever the more important. Believe it when we say our designers could have talked about accessibility well beyond our 3-hour event!

Our first speaker, Erica Ellis, is a Senior Manager within Uber’s Product Equity team. Her work is grounded in human-centered design and continuously aims to create equitable experiences for everyone. She uses research and design to address issues like safety, oppression, exclusion, and bias. Whether the solution is a product, service, or process, it is always driven by ethics, empathy, human behavior, and the inclusion of diverse perspectives. 

Carolina Novias, a Senior Product Designer at Salonized, our second speaker focused on sharing challenges of continuous improvements and redesigns. Salonized’s  product is used by customers of varying sizes, demands, and needs. How do you assess what’s the most relevant feedback? What improvements do you prioritize when they may benefit just one subset of your customer base? Carolina discussed the ways clear communication and analysis add value throughout the process.

Last but not least, Anouk Perquin, a consultant and thought leader in the translation industry, joined us to discuss the role translation plays in product accessibility. Translation often is a blocker for designers. It can limit creative freedom, lead to rework, and hinder the time to market. In her presentation, Anouk shared how it’s possible to have a smooth designer process, even if multiple languages are involved. She discussed ways to bring methodologies like Lean and Agile to the world of translation, so that content can flow in all languages. 

Through the use of a crowd-sourcing poling platform, we gathered audience questions throughout the night and amassed engaging questions for our fireside chat with a speaker panel. Guests raised their hands to ask questions such as how a budget-conscious organization can effectively implement accessibility considerations in their design process, but also how Carolina managed to use such perfect GIFs for all of her slides. 

“Actually while speaking to the guests, everyone was so happy to finally be able to join these meetups again in real life! The energy that you get from an in person event is unparalleled.”

Bessy Kim, Product Designer at Uber

Conversations continued throughout the main event hall as well as our post-event area for the last portion of the night, networking. We shared takeaways from our speaker presentations, exchanged personal experiences at our workplace with designing for accessibility, and ultimately learned a lot more about our community than we did before the night commenced.

“Tonight gave me exactly what I wanted from a design event. Inspiration.”

Mario Gestiera, Guest Attendee

If you are reading this and find yourself in Amsterdam or surrounding areas, consider joining our Uber Design Amsterdam MeetUp community for the latest on future design events.