Yes, these are what I learned in UX Camp!
This story explains how much a newbie can get from an intensive learning/training period. I am the newbie, UX is the context and the 5 weeks is the period. Let’s get started!
(UX Camp is an annual training program that is organised by Userspots, a UX company in Turkey)
The first week of the camp held in Antalya where one could feel the sun and sea to the bone -as we did-. In this week, we had intensive courses and workshops on UX Research, User Testing, UX Design, UI Design, Optimisation and more. It turned out that making this arduous week in a sea-side hotel was a brilliant idea. Without refreshing our minds in after-class hours, it would be impossible to acquire new knowledge everyday. Playing beach volley, swimming and having interesting conversations flourished our time there. We can acknowledge how well the directors of the program considered user experience from our perspective as well.
The next 4 weeks was consisted of teaming up and working on a project. We came back to our buzzy city Istanbul and started going in the water. As a group, We were supposed to come up with a conceptual design which enhances users’ cooking experience. The project sponsor was Arçelik, the prominent house appliances retailer in Turkey. We also had mentors who helped us a lot both from Arçelik and Userspots. They were like heroes in times of confusions.
As the process went by, we conducted our user research. We have met with people in their own kitchens while they were cooking. Contextual research is a powerful tool for many reasons. It enabled us to observe users in their natural environments and get more reliable data. We have followed all the necessary steps -that we have covered in the first week of the camp- to design a concept. It was long, hard and complicated from time to time.
Since we have spent so much time working as a group, we almost got fed up with seeing each other. It was so improving for all us that we needed to maintain the harmony in the group for the sake of the work. We were six people coming from different backgrounds and disciplines, thus we liked using different terms and expressions. This was a barrier especially in brainstorming and decision sessions. Throughout four weeks, we gradually created a common language that we all can communicate well with. This was one of the most important contributions of this camp on us. UX is an area that requires group work and integrating different abilities/backgrounds. Learning how to harmoniously work together as engineers, designers, researchers, psychologists, etc. will have an exponential effect in the quality of work.
When we have reached to the end, we had a whole concept to present confidently. What came so hard and confusing at the beginning was actually a natural and organic process. UX is not a make up or a plastic surgery on interfaces and products. It is rather an effort to keep the naturalness of the interactions and functions while ensuring an aesthetic standard. That is why UX Camp was more fruitful than a set of seminars. We got in to the experience ourselves and ended up with a clearer image on our head.
What I got from UX Camp is quite handy. Don’t you think so?