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9–11 September 2015

McGrath Centre, St. Catharine's College, Cambridge

Making sure nothing is 'lost in translation'

Paula de Matos de Matos UX Consulting
Boguslawa Kaplan Freelance interpreter and translator

Session type: Hands-On Session
Session duration: 90 minutes

About this Hands-On Session

User research requires practitioners to convey a user's message in the design of products and services. In particular, interviewing and focus groups need excellent interpretation to allow the message to be conveyed authentically and without bias.

The words we use to describe our analysis have a direct impact on how design is delivered. Have you ever wondered how well you achieve this? Do you wonder if you've introduced bias with some of the wording you've used?

Professional interpreting is an impressive skill requiring exceptional sensory, motor and cognitive skills when translating a client's message effectively and unambiguously. In interpreting, it's important to capture the linguistic nuances in one language and recreate them in the other language, using style and register appropriate to settings, culture and clients' needs*.

What can we as user experience practitioners learn from interpreting in conveying our own users' message? How do we translate our users' needs - and do we do it effectively? Do we use the appropriate linguistic style and nuance? What do you do to ensure you understand your client's needs and how you translate them into the product they have in their mind?

In this practical hands-on session we'll see some live interpreting and analyse the processes involved. You'll learn about some of the techniques used in interpreting and their relevance to user research and try them out in some hands-on user research.

We'll look closely at the importance of the language used and its nuances. You'll learn how to work on this to get more accurate and desirable outcomes. At the end of the session, you should know what skills are used in effective translation and interpretation. You'll also know how you can effectively train yourself to be a better interpreter and become better at understanding and communicating with others.


About the Speakers

Paula de Matos

Paula de Matos is an independent UX consultant specialising in complex data fields, specifically in the life sciences and biotech sectors. Paula's approach to designing in complex environments is based upon the notion that complex problems often require solutions from multiple domains and fields.

She uses expertise from other domains such as visualization to solve complex problems and is interested in bridging the gap between these disciplines.

Paula originally trained as a software developer, then moved to bridging the gap between users and developers in the role of Group Coordinator and User Experience Analyst at the European Bioinformatics Institute. She completed a masters in human computer interactions at University College London and blogs at


Boguslawa Kaplan

Boguslawa Kaplan is a freelance interpreter and translator with a background in psychology. She specialises in mental health, counselling and general medical translation and is currently working to expand her area of specialisation into law and police work.

Boguslawa works for various clients, but mostly the NHS, social services, the National Probation Service and local authorities. Her working languages are Polish and English.

The majority of her work is face-to-face interpreting, where she relies on her abilities to quickly analyse and accurately convert complex issues and information. In her work it is important to capture the linguistic nuances in one language and recreate them in the other, using style and register appropriate to settings, culture and the client's needs.

Boguslawa graduated in psychology and before embarking on the linguistic journey 7 years ago, she worked as a junior therapist specialising in autism and was co-ordinator of telephone listening and advice service, Nightline. Boguslawa is very interested in the UX field and its applications.


Session Types

Need help planning which sessions to attend? We've provided a breakdown of our various session types below.

Case Study/Experience Report

A presentation and discussion of real-life (not theoretical) experiences of the application (or mis-application) of service design techniques. Case studies and experience reports include some discussion of lessons learned and an indication of how novel the work is.


Participants learn a new approach, tool or technology through using it to solve one or more practical exercises. Any software/hardware requirements are disclosed in the session description.


A session focused around some specific tool, technique or issue. Primarily led by the speaker, tutorials usually include some elements of interactivity or individual / group exercise.


An in-depth working session on a specific topic. May include paper presentations.