"Focus less on documentation and more on creating an actual product we can measure"
On Thursday 14th August, I had the pleasure of presenting a short talk on Lean UX @corkdev.ie.
This was a short talk introducing the principles of Lean UX and how they can be used to improve the quality of the digital products and services we produce. The main message was that a ‘little bit Lean is better than no Lean at all’ and that by applying some tools from our UX toolkit we can start on a road to creating better products.
Following the presentation, you can find a link to the resources mentioned during the presentation and of course, the slides themselves.
Thanks again for having me guys, I really enjoyed it
Last week, we managed to squeeze in the first of our UX workshops here at Laya. A 45 minute session every Friday with the aim of sharing some UX love by learning about new tools, techniques and ideas to help build useful, awesome, higher quality products.
The general structure of these sessions consists of two parts.
An Introduction to UX
Today’s session started with a brief introduction to UX, by asking the question - What is UX? Interestingly, many at the table had a good sense of what it is and what it’s all about. For those who didn’t, we thankfully had a great example provided by @colman_w during his UXTraining course illustrating UX in the context of car design.
System + Aesthetic + Experience Design - Colman Walsh (2013)
Show, don’t tell
The best way to learn something new is to see it in action. Thus, we took one of the products currently in development and reverse engineered a user centered exercise. The product - a new web page promoting their new affordable health insurance plans.
Start with numbers….(then post-its)
We started with customer data, helping us create some lo-fi 'proto' personas of the current customers. After we had a good enough idea of who the target customer was, we then broke up into groups of 3 and brainstormed their needs. One need per post-it. After 2 minutes, we presented back to the group using a flip chart. We grouped like-needs, named them with a black sharpie and prioritized them quickly. We had roughly 5 key needs/areas of importance for a student user.
Now the fun part. We displayed the current state of the web page on the big screen and looked at it through the lens of our users needs. We marked the areas of the design that met the users’s needs with a yellow post-it and those that didn’t with a pink post-it.
Next, we discussed potential solutions for each of the pink post-its. Ideally we would have used 4-up or 6-up sketching paper, as proposed in Undercover UX Design to generate ideas, but due to time constraints we just discussed what we could do. This approach still yielded some great results and after a short debrief, it was obvious we had some useful suggestions on how to improve the design.
It’s really great to see the usefulness of these techniques being used to solve everyday design problems. The aim of these workshops is to demonstrate how all projects must ideally start with the user in mind. As useful as a review like this is, the importance of starting with a user workshop is paramount. Identifying users and their needs from the outset, ensures less time reviewing designs, more time developing ideas that matter, and ultimately improving the quality of the product.
More workshops to come. Card sorting for better site structure next week. Should be interesting
"Fridays just got 10% more awesome! These workshops definitely need to happen every week"
Participant @ Friday’s workshop
Yay - ‘Workshopping’
Last week, Myself and Mike (my developer friend) started work on a new project with the Cork Simon Community - a charity helping those who are homeless in Cork.
The purpose of the workshop was to understand the needs of the audience of their website for a proposed website redesign. It was a great team building exercise that got everyone on the team (and ourselves) very excited about the project.
The Day before - Be prepared
The most important thing about workshop is staying on top of the objectives, making sure you have a rough schedule, as well as all the materials you’ll need. I use a checklist for this and it generally includes;
This workshop was split in two; Before Lunch & After Lunch. It consisted of 10 people in total, from all areas of the organisation as well as two student volunteers. All activities were performed in groups of two or three.
The morning session focused on understanding the audience of the site. We did this by first identifying them from knowledge, then writing down all their assumed needs on post its. We were also armed with web analytics, which helped focus partcipants.
Next, we used the KJ Method (or affinity diagramming) to group and prioritise these needs into logical sections of the site.
The afternoon session consisted of an open card sort. With participants in groups of 3-4, we reorganised the pages of the existing site, using some of the categories we had identified that morning. This was a useful exercise in identifying content gaps, or indeed redundant content.
Finally based on all of the knowledge we had created, we put our heads together to understand what we might need on the homepage of our new website. This would have been a nightmare if we had started out with an exercise like this, but thanks to everyone contributing and building up understanding throughout the day, there was surprisingly little disagreement.
What we discovered
A quick 5 minute debrief at the end of the workshop showed that the participants had learned a thing or two thanks to the process.
What makes it all worthwhile
I received an email later that day thanking us for the workshop. I think this quote sums it up nicely. Awesome!
It was an excellent day all round – it gave us all a better insight into where we need to keep our focus and what we need to do to create a website that will be useful for all stakeholders - and awesome!
- Paul Sheehan, Campaigns & Communications Manager
More to come soon- watch this space
Today, I had the privilege of attending a workshop with Yves Pigneur - co-father of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) at University College Cork. The BCM is used by many start-ups and entrepreneurs around the world as a useful tool in understanding and identifying value proposition
His presentation was both thought provoking and inspiring. His dedication to the problems surrounding the development of a business plan is immense, spanning over 15 years.
I was most impressed with his latest work that focuses on the customer (or user!). Throughout his work, he uncovered the importance of the user and creating the business around them. This focus lead him to the development of the Value Proposition Canvas, which has striking similarities to developing proto-personas when designing products and services in workshops.
His new book Value Proposition Design is out in the not so distant future and is sure to have a few useful tools that can help our thinking when designing solutions - for business and UX.
If you want to see more of this legend, check out one of Yves Pigneur workshop at iSchool last year.