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Will Soward

Will Soward

Lead UX Designer and Learning Media Developer
Open Polytechnic
Havelock, Aotearoa New Zealand

Will works creatively in a diverse field of digital media. Formerly a commercial photographer and videographer, digital media lead the way into front-end website design and development and providing digital solutions to a worldwide client base. In 2008 Will transitioned into education as a Creative Digital Technologies teacher for adults with learning disabilities, then into higher secondary education as a lecturer in Interactive Design. Relocating to New Zealand in 2012, he tutored full-time for NMIT's Bachelor of Arts programme. In 2016 he joined eCampus NZ as a core developer and learning media designer; today he is the Lead User Experience Designer and Learning Media Developer for Open Polytechnic/ Te Pūkenga Enterprise Service Hub.

Upcoming Talks and Workshops

A case study: Accessible Design for Learning Management Systems

1 in 4 people in New Zealand is limited by a physical, sensory, learning, mental health or other impairment. Accessibility design for systems based in the online learning space requires a unique consideration for our ākonga. In this talk by Will Soward, Lead User Experience & Media Designer for Open Polytechnic/ Te Pūkenga, Enterprise Service Hub, the fundamental principles of designing for neurodiversity will be explored. Common components and elements such as buttons, animations, typography and colour are examined to support the neurological conditions of users in combination with user experience laws and principles. With over 12 years of working in the education sector (both UK and NZ) as a lecturer and learning media designer, Will presents his insight into value-added design for neurodiversity that can be applied to Web components and systems to support the success of learners with Dyslexia, ADHD, Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, Vestibular Disorders and other learning differences. In the last 6 years of working as the UX design lead, Will illustrates his observations and evaluations supporting online learners in vocational and higher online education. The principles discussed can be applied widely to industries that deeply consider accessibility as an essential factor in their design systems and greatly support users with neurodiversity.

Past Talks and Workshops

A case study: Accessible Design for Learning Management Systems

Inclusive Design

We crave connection at every age – including our golden years. Technology has amplified our ability to connect on a global scale, but older users have been largely left behind. We’ll share what Journey Digital & Ryman learnt designing an App for a diverse group of uses with an average age of 80. Ryman Healthcare’s purpose is to enhance freedom, connection and well-being for people as they grow older. Leading innovative co-designed projects alongside residents within their villages and communities.They recognised that the over-70s group hasn’t been well served in the technology design department - so, together Journey Digital and Ryman linked to create digital tools that enabled residents to gain the most of village life. We did away with key assumptions such as, everyone in that senior age group is the same, because in truth, there are as many differences, as any other age group. Our data-centric approach captured the real factors at play, allowing us to guide this age group into a new era of digital connection. We undertook over 250 hours of interviews, user-testing, and co-designing sessions involving over 150 residents and informed by 4258 data points, all wrapped up in a cross-discipline agile design process. This project wasn’t just about gaining data to drive deliverables, it fuelled something much deeper, inspiring us as designers to go beyond what we think design is capable of.This talk centres around what we learnt through this process, highlighting: - Key takeaway learnings about designing for 70+ year olds. - What assumptions need to be challenged when designing for seniors. - Reflections on ageing and technology. - Empathy for those who ‘feel left behind’. - Insights into how to adapt research and design processes to older adults, and people less tech-savvy than us. Within this talk we have some gems, real user stories that will make you laugh and cry, maybe think a little about your own mortality, and ultimately inspire you.