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User Experience Matters Because People Matter

Ellery Mann, New York

June 2016

What is User Experience?

User Experience, UX for short, is a crucial step within the design process that will reveal valuable information for a desired target audience. UX puts the user at the forefront of all design decisions, this is a human centered design approach that starts with the people we are designing for and concludes with solutions that suit their needs.

Why does UX matter?

User experience matters because people matter; it’s as simple as that.

UX aims to deliver positive experiences through innovative solutions that improve our way of life.  The users that will be interacting with the end product are the most important aspect of any project, therefore every strategic or design project should start with a human centered approach. We only have a few seconds to grab their attention and prove a product or service is valuable towards their lives while providing a positive experience as they interact with it.

Understand your users.

Before making any decisions, you must generate empathy for your users and see problems as opportunities. There are many ways to go about this, such as user interviews, environmental observations, user research, user testing; and of course, running great workshops. Workshops should always be common practice throughout the design process as they are a great opportunity to include stakeholders and teammates with various points of view to build a think tank where great minds come together to generate ideas and solve problems.

“The users that will be interacting with the end product are the most important aspect of any project.”

Idea generation through parallels.

Here are a few tips on running a successful workshop:

Define your goals: Be Prepared! Goals are crucial as they will determine which activities are best suited for the desired outcomes. Understand why you are running the workshop and what you are trying to achieve. There are many workshop exercises and activities to unravel the answers you are seeking and a great place to start is with Ideo’s Design Kit.

Create an agenda: Plan ahead. Schedules are important as they will help prioritize activities and keep the workshop on track. Create a sequence with the activities so they can build off each other as key findings will most likely inspire an approach or perspective towards the next activity. While building out the schedule, also consider “nice to have” activities if time permits. Other than the chosen activities, plan for an introduction to align roles and expectations, have snacks, breaks, and share the agenda with the participants before hand.

Curate your team: Only invite key players. It is important to bring the right people together. Consider their contributions, skill sets, knowledge, and unique perspectives. A smaller team in an intimate setting is ideal, as members in larger teams can get away without participating and it is extremely important to have everyone contribute. It is also encouraged to invite clients and stakeholders to these workshops as they usually have a great deal of knowledge in the subject. Bringing in key players will involve them in the process and generate buy-in with the solutions that are discovered together.

Facilitate: Participate! One of the most important parts of facilitating a workshop is preparing the team for the upcoming activities and explaining why they are important, what the activity is set out to accomplish, and what is expected from the participants. Provide examples if necessary as this can help those who are unfamiliar with the process. It is the facilitator’s job to assess the room, create a collaborative environment, and make calls based on the participant’s contributions.

Closing: Next steps are crucial! At the end of the workshop make sure to thank everyone for their participation, recap on the workshop’s findings, and align expectations of what is next to come. Every moment from the workshop is extremely valuable and will be a part of the design solution, so it is just as important to capture notes throughout the workshop and organize all the findings afterwards. Always send a follow up email to the team which recaps the workshop’s outcome.

Facilitating a UX workshop can be challenging, but with the right plan, tools, and key players, workshops will prove to be the most valuable step throughout the design process. While going into a UX workshop as either a participant or a facilitator, remember to always have an open mind, be optimistic, open to the new, and don’t be afraid to move outside of your comfort zone. Have a blast!