Practical
User Experience

In 2019, I had the pleasure of facilitating a UX workshop that was part of Digitized, a yearly design conference in Athens, Greece.

There’s something noble in being practical in your work and to be able to cut through the BS and deliver results as fast as possible. It was also a necessity for me, because I’ve always worked in fast-paced environments with rapid changes and time could be a deadly enemy, or a force you could use to thrive.

Like my Workshop’s description says, UX Design contains a lot of methodologies and principles that require a lot of hands, a lot of time and huge budgets. Unfortunately, in the real world you are called to solve problems and provide answers in no-time and with tiny budgets, often being the sole designer in your organisation.

In other words, you’ll read a lot of UX articles in medium about methodologies with fancy terms that are probably being used in companies with 2-3 designers and design managers and user researchers in the same squad.

I wanted to talk about the process of what happens when you’re in a smaller design team or you are the team. The workshop hours were 10:00 to 17:00 and I remember thinking: “this will be easy, I’m doing it everyday anyways, how hard can it be”?

I soon realised that planning for a 7-hours long workshop, isn’t a piece of cake.
Doing it as your job and communicating it to others, are two very different things.
So I started planning my workshop by spending some time thinking about who is this workshop for. Who will come and what is her background and experience?

Based on my assumptions, I designed a content map in my mind (you see how easy is to get all fancy with terms, I just created one of my own) and started writing down what exactly do I want to show. Which methodologies would make more sense to talk about and then apply them on a real project.

Once I had that, I started gathering material. The templates I was using to gather insights, the scripts for user interviews and the notes I was taking during the interviews, especially the parts that were describing how bad some of these interviews went and why.

As an example project, I’ve decided to use a smart-home iOS app, which can control the lights, the music and the temperature in multiple rooms/houses.

So when I knew what I actually wanted to talk about and based on the time I had, I created a Workshop map that looked like this:

I started with introductions because I had to identify the level of the people in the room. Then I continued with a little history about UX for the people who were just starting out, a brief introduction to theory and what we would learn during my workshop.

I was honest with them and I explained that this was just my process, based on my personal experience and it’s definitely not a bible.

I designed the actual slides of the presentation in a way that was helping me and my UXers, highlight the basics of each step, something like a reminder plus a couple of hints & tips to help them complete each activity.  That helped a lot with keeping the focus on me and not the slides while I was talking.

By the end of my workshop, I wanted people to have a clear image about how I approach a new project, what are the most common mistakes I used to do and how to avoid them.

I had a great time telling my story, I met new people and I’ve learned a lot from them as well.

You can find my presentation here:

You can also download the templates I used for conduncting Stakeholder Interviews, User Interviews and Competitive Analysis. I've created them on my iPad and I like to print them when I don't have my iPad with me and take hand-written notes.

You can get them here, I hope you find them useful! 

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