Tag Archives: uxpadc

Design Thinking Workshop

Posted on by

What exactly is design thinking? Design thinking is collaborative method to solve problems. The method involves basic tools – a lot of sticky notes, sharpie markers, circle stickers, and an open mind.

sticky pads and sharpie markers at the design thinking workshop

John Whalen from Brilliant Experience led participants through the design thinking process during the workshop on June 14, 2014. John started with a short instructional period where he discussed the process of design thinking with one rule – no one is allowed to roll their eyes at anyone else’s creative ideas.

group photo of the design thinking workshop attendees

The task at the workshop was to solve the problem of a foreign family coming to visit Washington, D.C. The family wanted to use the metro to get from one location to the zoo. However, getting tickets, figuring out where to go, and other systems in place are confusing for tourists.

The five teams came up with creative solutions using the design thinking process to help create a better user experience for the flow of metro, the ticketing kiosk, family turnstiles, signage, and other pieces of the metro system.

a second group photo of one of the design thinking teams a group photo of one of the design thinking teams a third photo of a design thinking group the fourth group photo from the design thinking workshop the fifth group from the design thinking workshop

The design thinking process includes:

  1. Research
  2. Ideate
  3. Prototype
  4. Test (go back to step 2)

1. Research

Empathize with the users. Follow them around, watch them in their natural environment, interview them, have a diary study, and/or take pictures to research the users. Ask yourself questions like “who are the audience?”, “what do they say?”, “what do they do?”

Define the problem after some initial research by asking yourself questions like “what are the users really trying to solve?”, “what roadblocks do they have?”, and “what opportunities are there for creative solutions?”

2. Ideate

The goal of the ideate phase is to come up with as many solutions as possible. Use multidisciplinary teams, including the client and subject matter experts in the mix. There are no constraints to the ideas and you are looking for quality and quantity through exploration of the problem.

3. Prototype

Through simple, fast, low-cost creative expression, communicate the core elements of your solution to others. This can be done through sketching, props already at your disposal (office tools), or other cheap, creative methods. The goal in design thinking is to learn through design and testing.

4. Test

Finally, test your prototype with anyone. You learn about the user response to the prototype through testing. Over time, you’ll increase the fidelity of the prototype.

group photo of the design thinking attendees

Overall, the workshop was a great learning experience and taught participants to hold these types of workshops at their respective offices.

The following books contain more information on Design Thinking:

UX Testing Workshop Recap

Posted on by

Presenters talk about UX testing techniques to attendees on a Saturday afternoon in Arlington.

“How can we be better at user experience testing?”

We answered that question at the UXPA DC User Experience (UX) Testing Workshop on Saturday, April 12 at the Mediabarn User Experience Lab in Arlington. Local experts from leading usability labs addressed how to plan, conduct, and analyze user experience tests.

For the first half of the workshop, Sara Mastro, Senior Director of Experience Design at Mediabarn and Caroline Little, Lead User Experience Researcher at SPARK Experience, shared their wisdom about why we test and how we should plan our tests. The nuggets of their message? A good test requires preparation. When done right, it gives us insight into user behavior and preferences, it helps us understand what and how to design, and it reveals whether or not what was designed was designed correctly.

In the afternoon, speakers focused on more advanced topics. Andrew Schall, VP of User Experience at SPARK Experience, provided tips for how to deal with troublemaker test participants like The Mute who barely answers questions and certainly doesn’t think aloud. (Hint: ask The Mute lots of close-ended questions.) Andrew also took everyone out of their comfort zone with a laughter-inducing moderation exercise. Have you ever experienced a test participant whose hamster just died?

Jen Romano Bergstrom, User Experience Research Leader at the Fors Marsh Group rounded out the afternoon with insight on how to sift through test results and communicate recommendations. She’s a proponent of using a combination of both qualitative and quantitative techniques to get a full view of how a design is performing. She reminded us that our clients are the end users of our testing services. Users don’t take the time to read and neither do our clients. So make your reports concise.

In summary, we can be better at user experience testing by:

  • taking the time to think through and plan our research
  • keeping cool and staying professional
  • getting to the point when we share our results with clients

So, with that advice, I wish you happy testing, everyone!

Interested in more UXPA DC events like this one? Check out the UXPA DC events page.

UX Strategy: Why and How

Posted on by
UX Strategy with Janice James

Janice James shares insight about what UX Strategy is and why it’s important.

Who better to help us ring in spring than one of the founding mothers of the UX field and principal founder of UXPA, Janice James? With 25 years of experience in user research and user-centered design, Janice has plenty of wisdom on the subject of UX strategy. In her talk, Janice uncovered the commonalities among the many contradictory definitions of UX strategy, including:

  • The collaboration of a cross functional team.
  • The use of UX activities to understand the underlying purpose of the business and to design ways to achieve that purpose.
  • The use of data to inform design.
  • The resulting design that provides users a useful, engaging, delightful product or service.

Referencing Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Janice emphasized the importance of focusing your UX Strategy on “the why” and “the how,” rather than “the what.” Don’t let your strategy be driven by the technology or product for the sake of the technology or product. Instead, the strategy should be focusing on the purpose of the business, product or service. Only then should you focus on how you can achieve that purpose using the appropriate technology. To drive this point home, Janice asked, “Looking back, did any of us think we needed a smartphone?” Before smartphones, we were all content with our cameras, address books, day planners, calculators, encyclopedias, maps, telephones, and so on. Our lives would be very different if mobile phone developers had focused on the what (mobile phones) at the expense of the why (a convenient, multifunctional experience in your pocket). Finally, Janice answered the question, “Why UX strategy?” She suggested that UX strategy can help:

  • Change misconceptions about what UX is and what UX professionals do.
  • Develop trust between UX professionals and their colleagues in product management, marketing and other specialties.
  • Accelerate the inclusion of UX as a key part of the business strategy.

For more information about UX Strategy, Janice recommended The UX Strategy Conference. Summaries of presentations from the 2013 conference are available at UXmatters.com. Thank you, Janice, for your insight! And thank you to the new and continuing UXPA DC leadership for organizing this event and for making UXPA DC more accessible through free membership and event registration. Your efforts are what make UXPA DC so great. Janice James’ slides on UX Strategy are on slideshare.