The UX of a UX Workshop

Here at ignota.io, we are a design team. We design services, customer experiences and digital products for our partners mainly in the banking, and insurance sectors. Hence we know the tools, the methodologies, we know the lingo. Applying the traits of UX to our daily work comes naturally.

When one of the leading design events in Greece,
Digitized Design Conference, invited us to organize a workshop,
we were thrilled. The first thing that came to mind was:

“Hey, we could set up a workshop that takes participants through the entire process of creating a digital product!”.

Sounds straightforward and to be honest, we loved the initial idea. Participants would be introduced to all phases of digital product design, from the ideation & business stages to UX design, research, prototyping, UI design, and even dive briefly into how the development phase runs.

The goal of this workshop would be to introduce people with no previous experience to product design. It was targeted to designers, project managers, copyrighters and accounts managers that wanted to learn about the available methodologies used to analyze, research, find & execute ideas for a product that doesn’t yet exist.

Teams working with the provided templates.

You could quickly assume that structuring and sharing this kind of knowledge with an audience should be easy for us, right?
After all, this is what we do every day and love doing. 
Well… nope.

Questions. Questions!

We began by asking questions. A lot of questions.

How can we structure information in a meaningful way to be worth sharing with a group of random individuals with mixed backgrounds and experiences? Is the content going to be solid enough for someone to gain a basic understanding and the ability to apply what they will learn to their daily work? Would it be worthless for a more experienced individual? What would be more important for the audience to go over in more detail?

And some more practical questions like:

How it was going to be divided? How do we keep the participants engaged for six hours on a Saturday? What will make it fun? How much time per session?
How many groups? 
What would be the ideal ratio between theory and practice? 
How we eliminate the need for technology, so we maintain focus on human interaction? How could we create such an experience at the end of the day so that people would want to share what they acquired with their colleagues?

To answer all these questions, and many more, 
we had to do some brainstorming.

A lot of brainstorming.

Brainstorming lead to debates, scraping of ideas and frustration. We were worried that the volume of content maybe was more than our audience could manage. But what is more important and how can we define that? Could we speak about personas without explaining user research methodologies? Could we work with prototyping tools without going over the fundamentals of prototyping and so on. Then we feared that not diving adequately deep into the several methods and theories we wished to cover could be a potential problem, leaving participants with gaps. Questions kept coming, time was pressuring us. We had to draw the line and come up with a solution.

Empathy map exercise.

Solution

Our solution was to go through the complete process of creating a digital product, focusing on practical methodologies and tools. That way, we could give people a general overview of how things work in our field, provide them with tools and methods that they can apply to their work and open their field of view while nurturing self-exploration and remaining inclusive.

Features exploration exercise.

We divided the workshop into four major parts and had the participants work in groups to create different solutions for the business needs provided in the brief. We included practical exercises in each part, to maintain engagement and initiate collaboration.

1) The business part described the Double Diamond methodology that helps to find, research and analyze the imaginary problem of an Electricity/Gas providing company losing clients. “Why people leave.”

2) The Design Thinking process part explores the business solution that was chosen, a “Smart Home” mobile application. People had to understand the terms, brainstorm ideas & app features, create personas and select one of them as their target persona.

Personas exercise using the persona template.

3) The prototyping session followed, including the creation of User Stories, User Flows, a simple IA for the dashboard, and finally wireframes.

Wire-framing exercise using the provided wire-framing kit.

4) A final session included branding and actually designing this new product.

But will it work? Hint: We can always test it!

In fact, we found ourselves using the actual methodologies that we were going to exhibit. The same methodologies served us in crafting the workshop itself. We ideated, we researched, we used data (the participant’s list) to gain insights (how experienced are they/what do they do) and to create personas of our potential audience. We built value and engagement by setting up practical exercises. Then we user-tested those exercises with colleagues that matched our target personas. The irony!

Key Takeaways

The process of drafting and designing the workshop made us re-evaluate the methods that we use on daily work. We knew the theory, we knew the proper way to execute ideas, but inside the frenzy of daily work, we sometimes dismissed the possibility to implement the methods we know accurately. We discovered that by working collaboratively, prototyping efficiently and then applying the methodologies devoutly delivers extraordinary results.

The ignota.io team at the time.

In the end, had three things. One, a well-structured workshop that all participants no matter their background and experience level found exciting and useful. Two, a solid, refined understanding of the methods and tools we use blindly every day. Three, a polished way of working as a team that delivers results. We explored ourselves, got into specialized roles, split the workflow and worked all together to create a 5-star workshop experience, as the post-event satisfaction survey showed.

Because as it turns out, it doesn’t matter what you are being called to design. Whether it is a mobile app, a web banking environment, a Mars Rover or a UX workshop, the way you work is what matters. Knowing your tools, applying methodologies correctly and collaborating in an open and healthy perspective is what propels positive results and happy users, clients & stakeholders.

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Would you be interested in finding more about our knowledge
transfer programs? Let us know, at hello@ignota.io

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Written by Nick Diamantidis, UI Designer 
&
Christos Papachristidis, Senior UX/IX Designer.