Last week, I conducted a workshop presentation about User Experience Basics for the Ladies, Technically Speaking Meetup group in Lancaster. Designer and Technologist Erin Good organizes this group, and she had asked about my interest in putting something together a few weeks ago. I am grateful for this opportunity, so I went to work distilling my thoughts and experiences into a 2 hour package.
Turns out, that was more difficult than I imagined! Don’t get me wrong, I was really happy with how it came out. And I felt like all of the participants left with ideas to apply immediately to their work/careers. But it was quite the journey. It was a great reminder to me about trusting the creative process and how complex the journey to a simple solution is.
Goals I had for the workshop
- Make sure everyone saw UX as a holistic discipline in which technology can happen to facilitate solutions
- Get each participant thinking about how to apply UX principles to their work/career
- Focus on User Centered experiences instead of specific terms or methodologies which vary greatly
- Relate UX to development and programming
- Have each participant leave with an idea of something small they could implement right away
Designing the presentation
I’ve written before about using your design skills within your creative process, and this project was no exception. I kept focused by using some familiar tools, and visually mapping out ideas after I had the basic outline of topics. There was one point in the planning where I knew something was still “off”. The tool I was using helped me to see it, though it took me some time to figure out what the problem was. I had to remember to step back and think about the audience. Once I did, everything fell into place. I had been missing a direct connection to the audience of developers. The User Centered part of my design – oh, the irony!
What we learned
Originally, I pushed hard to drive home the points of strategy, user focus and experiences outside of just technology since I feel there is often confusion between User Experience and User Interface design. But when I really thought about the audience, I knew I needed to add some emphasis on the design and development part of the UX process. This included more on the importance of collaboration, constant prioritization, and the loop from measurement to implementing learnings. We still touched on how a strong vision could come about, and to think of a vision as simply a list of problems to solve – aligned with emotional perceptions and business goals.
It wasn't easy to come up with an activity that made sense in a process that involves so much effort in reality and isn’t always straightforward.
At first, I was planning to have the group help to wireframe, but I felt there were too many variables to slip that into a small block of time and still cover everything. Next, I was pretty set on everyone writing their own set of bullet points of the steps a user would take for a certain scenario now, and identifying way of improving it. This proved pretty complex the more I thought about it and again just didn’t seem to tie into development as much as I wanted to.
So, after figuring out a more adaptable example, I decided to find and solve a problem myself and pretend research methods had already been applied. We would then bridge the gap just before design took place by collaboratively prioritizing features using a very simple Red Route technique that I found on this UX Project Checklist tool. This proved to be effective to explain a multitude of points, and easy to collaborate and discuss.
I will share more about the specifics on the activity in a further post, because I think it’s relatable a problem worth applying for a UX example. There were a few deliverables I prepared to prep the activity and I explained some hypothetical context as we went. Our participants provided some great insights and ideas as well. Their questions kept me thinking and gave me ideas of other things to learn about myself.