Category Archives: Uncategorized

Brexit planning

Currently, the UK is expecting to leave the EU on 31st October 2019. This departure may or may not be undertaken with a deal. Please find below our current suggestions and plans with regards to the impact of Brexit on attending (and our running of) our events.


Who to contact if you have queries about your position

It is best to speak to a visa law expert/professional for the correct and current advice. – good info based on what travel will be like in the event of a No Deal exit. 5 pages long. – UK gov website info on entering the UK after Brexit

Non-EEA nationals requirements

The referendum has no effect upon the UK immigration system and there are no foreseeable changes to the mechanism by which non-EEA nationals can visit, study, work, or settle in the UK.


We are working closely with all of our event venues to ensure they have sufficient plans in place to continue to provide the levels of service we require to smoothly run our events. This includes catering supplies, power, wifi, water and security.


We are working closely with all of our event suppliers to ensure they have sufficient plans in place to continue to provide the levels of service we require to smoothly run our events.

Please note: we will continue to work closely with our venues and suppliers to ensure we are being as green and sustainable as we possibly can be. We are aware that Brexit may have an impact on what products are accessible in the UK and there may be a knock-on effect to the environment and we are committed to continuing to strive for our sustainability goals.


At this time we can only refer to the NHS for details about medicines, staffing, supply and demand. We also recommend travellers explore all their health insurance/travel insurance options and purchase accordingly.

Information from NHS England is here: – continuity of supply of medicines etc

At this time we have been unable to source NHS Scotland’s position on Brexit.

Drawing on Inspiration

It all started when I was helping at the UX in the City: Manchester conference in May of this year, with an entreaty from my colleague, Jacqui.

“We need someone to do Thought of the Day – Jenna, you’re pretty arty, go on, you do it!”

Jacqui’s one of those people who is so positive and full of sunshine that to refuse her something is like stepping on a kitten. You just can’t bring yourself to do it.

cat image

Saying it like that makes doing the Thought of the Day sound like a hardship – it really isn’t, I’m just being precious.

Gollum image

You see, at our various events, not only do we provide sensational talks and workshops that stretch the mind and get people talking, we like to delight, inspire and make people smile. One of the ways we do this is through the Thought of the Day, usually a quote that can be in turn uplifting, thought-provoking, or maybe even a bit silly and designed to get a giggle. And, who am I kidding, I blummin’ love a bit of a draw!

Anyway, I digress..

‘Go Jenna, you do it!’

And this was the first one:

Thought of the Day Sun Image

It was a quick job. Colourful – dare I say inspirational – but, in all honesty, without much artistic merit. But people noticed! They read it as they walked past and a demure smile would cross their faces. I felt kinda warm and fuzzy inside. So the next day (you’ll guess the date), I got to thinking of how to pull in a relevant character alongside the idea that learning is a good thing (a message you hope would resonate at a UX conference), and I did this one:

Thought of the Day Yoda image

I’ll let you in on a secret: this is one of my favourites. It’s Yoda! But it also got me to thinking that using the face of a well known person (or alien?!) could be the way to go, as everyone will recognise them and that will make it more memorable.

It wasn’t until a few months later that I was at the fantastic Agile Cambridge event, held within Cambridge University at the prestigious Churchill College. Needless to say, I didn’t need to look far for inspiration, and decided to draw the man himself.

A quick internet search for Churchillian quotations easily provided something that was both motivating and profound:

Thought of the Day Churchill image

I was also tempted by, “Remember gentlemen, it is not just France we are fighting for, it’s champagne!”, which would have dovetailed nicely with our prosecco and punting social night, but I thought it may have seemed a little flippant. Did you know that Churchill was so into his champagne that when he died, his favourite producer, Pol Roger, put a black outline on all of its labels? No, me neither – until I did this! You learn something new every day…

Following Churchill, at the ever-popular Lean Agile Scotland, came Gandhi:


Thought of the Day - Einstein

…and, in homage to the conference location at Agile in the City: Bristol, a bit of Banksy:

Thought of the Day Banksy image

…a galleon:

…and even that evil arch-villain, Feathers McGraw:

Thought of the Day Feather McGraw image

So what to draw now? Looking ahead, the next conference is Service Design in Government in Edinburgh, taking place in March next year. (Hmm… a kilt? A quote from Disney’s Brave? Something blue from Billy Connolly may not be entirely appropriate…suggestions on a postcard!)

…Or maybe my itchy fingers can’t wait until then…stay tuned!

Exciting News!

Service Design in Government (SDinGov) is on the move!

The information below is from a message we sent to our mailing list (including past participants) regarding SDinGov being held in Edinburgh in 2018:

“We are delighted with how much our event has grown in the past four years but sadly we have outgrown our beloved London venue, 15Hatfields, and so we have to move.

Join us in Edinburgh at the John McIntyre Centre from 7-9 March 2018.

We haven’t taken the decision to move lightly. We looked at participant feedback, where people were travelling from and which areas we could move to that would help us add more value to your experience without having to significantly increase the price of a ticket. There were a lot of discussions over all the options available to us and the team spent a long time weighing up what would be the best decision. Having held events in Edinburgh for many years, it was a strong candidate from the start.

SDinGov is our most international event with participants and speakers joining us from all over the world. We are sure the opportunity to visit Scotland’s seat of government, and see another of the UK’s most beautiful cities, will be an exciting bonus. We are already striving to bring you a great programme and will be announcing our first Keynote in the near future.

We are working hard to ensure the event brings you the same quality, value and warmth you have come to expect from the past 4 years.  With great international links, the Scottish Parliament and the beautiful historical city of Edinburgh to explore around the event, we are confident your 2018 SDinGov experience will be duly enriched.

We realise this move means some of our participants will be wondering about budgeting for travel and accommodation. To help make that less of a concern, we are releasing a small number of Super Special Advance Tickets. You can book for the full conference for only £538.80 (that’s £449 +VAT). There are only 15 of these tickets available and they are only available until 29 June so hurry – book yours today.

Stay tuned for more Keynote announcements, updates on the Call for Speakers and other news about SDinGov2018…”

If you have any questions about SDinGov 2018 and our move to the beautiful city of Edinburgh, please do get in touch.

Slack top tips for #eventprofs!

Many of our participants’ unexpected favourite takeaway from our events is the added bonus of networking. They arrive often alone and leave with many new contacts and friends who may shape the way they work in the future. Making pre and post event networking easier for our participants is something we, as organisers, are always looking at.

We started using Slack (the business collaboration tool) as a company in January 2016, and in the past year it has radically changed the way we communicate as a team. It has freed us up from over-full inboxes, given us visibility into all areas of the business and – as remote workers – it has connected us in a way I didn’t think possible. Basically, it has made us work smarter and feel more connected as a team. So sharing our love of Slack via our events seemed to be a logical step forward.

We trialled Slack this year on our Agile Cambridge and Agile in the City Bristol events, and it has added to the event experience for our participants. It has helped create another way for our participants to collaborate, and made a space in the week or so before and after the event where they can genuinely network so they don’t arrive at events alone.

My top tips from our experience for creating a Slack event channel are:

  • Give people the option to join when they sign up to the event, so you’re not spamming anyone. Most people love Slack, but not everyone!
  • Don’t have too many channels – it creates confusion. We found that using just 5 – Session, Feedback, Random, Who’s here and General – worked pretty well and I think we could even cut that back.
  • Make it welcoming and informative. Pre-seed with speakers, programme committee members and add info that’s of interest. So when people join up, they join in.
  • Use it to share vital event knowledge, eg where the coffee is, when the keynote starts.
  • Track it to get instant feedback and react, eg when a participant says a room is too hot, you up the air conditioning.
  • Add the speaker slides from the event – Slack is a great post event resource.
  • Let it do its thing and evolve from the channel members’ input! But make sure it keeps to the event Code of Conduct.

We felt Slack added to the event experience for participants and the feedback we have received has been pretty great. Whilst we continue to look at ways to help our event community network outside our events, Slack has helped make this easier. We will be using it at our events going forward.

UX can be applied to events, too

If you’re running an event, your users – the participants (including sponsors, speakers and press) – and their needs should be at the forefront of your mind. Seeing your event through their eyes – when you’re planning it, when you’re running it and afterwards when you’re measuring how successful it was – is important. That’s why you have to think about UX (the user experience).

We’ve already blogged about using proto-personas to define and work out how to meet user needs for events.

You are not your user – think about things from the perspective of your participants. Walk through your venue before the event starts and look at things from the user’s point of view. Is the signage clear? Does the registration desk layout make sense? Can you go the extra mile and help with things like arranging taxis, special diets or accommodation emergencies? Are your staff welcoming (and are the venue’s, too)?

Map out user needs for great UX

You should also think about the hierarchy of event needs. This idea is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a pyramid with people’s most basic needs at the bottom. When one need is fulfilled, people move on to the next, and then the next, until they reach the top of the pyramid.

Applying UX: a pyramid of user needs for an event
How a pyramid of user needs might look for an event

Try this for yourself: draw a pyramid and at the bottom, list basic needs – like catering, toilets and so on. Higher up, you might put things like signage, easily being able to find the sessions you’re interested in, good wifi and so on.  Different people will order things differently.

We try to make our events memorable – going the extra mile to fulfil those needs right at the top of the pyramid. Some of our conferences have included:

  • a mini beer festival with a specially-brewed beer
  • ‘dinner with a stranger’ – people sign up to one of a selection of restaurants and pay for their dinner, but we pay for drinks (this has proved to be a great way for participants to get to know each other and adds depth to the event experience)
  • participant-generated Spotify playlists
  • free massages – we’ve offered 15-minute massages (head, neck and back) in ergonomic chairs at several of our events
  • a bake-off contest – we booked some teaching kitchens, put people in random pairs and they decided what to bake, with everyone getting the chance to taste and vote on their favourites (as well as having a bread-making lesson whilst everything was baking!)

You might find it helpful to think about the anti-problem, too. This is a game that helps people think creatively by getting them to come up with ideas to solve a problem or situation opposite to their own. So think about what would make your event the worst it could possibly be. This can help generate ideas that you can then turn around to make it great instead – and prepare you for when things really do go wrong so that you can respond quickly.

Planning and running events is complicated, but thinking about UX will help make sure you give participants the best possible experience you can. If they’ve enjoyed your event they’ll tell others about it – and hopefully come back.