Written by Femke from Atomic.io

What we learned running our first workshop

Over the last few months at Atomic we’ve been trialling a few different ways to help new users get up to speed with the tool. From webinars to tutorial videos to additional help documentation, there was one avenue we hadn’t yet tried — workshops.

Learning a new tool can be challenging. Atomic was released just under a year ago, so we’re still seeing large numbers of designers come through every day to try Atomic for the first time. While we do offer a range of learning materials — getting up to speed in a new or unfamiliar tool can be difficult on your own. We all learn in different ways, whether it’s learning by doing, seeing or listening.

Seizing the opportunity

We saw an opportunity arise to facilitate our first hands on workshop. Introducing workshops would give people another way to learn Atomic. I seized the opportunity to connect with those both new and familiar with Atomic, as a way to help them get started while fostering an in person relationship with them.

We quickly realised that we had to decide what the goal of the workshop was. To do so, we asked ourselves a few important questions such as:

  • Who is the workshop for?
  • What is the goal? This is important to consider both in terms of the internal goal for the company, as well as the goal for the attendees.
  • What should be the key takeaway?

Defining the answers for each of these questions helped us develop a workshop format that we felt best suited the needs and expectations of the attendees.

Defining attendee level of experience required

As this was our first workshop, we felt it be most appropriate to go with a beginners/introduction to Atomic theme. This would allow us to test the waters and get a hands on feel for what those new to Atomic struggle with or understand quickly when learning the tool.

However, we didn’t want to limit those more experienced from making the most of the workshop. Mixing the inexperienced with the experienced, allowed those familiar with Atomic the opportunity to be a great facilitator for those who are new and still finding their bearings. It also gave them face to face time with us so they could ask for help with one of their prototypes.

Identifying the goal

As a team, we knew that we wanted to create relationships with attendees, help them feel comfortable using Atomic and hopefully get them excited about using the tool.

To find out what the attendees wanted to get out of the session we knew we’d have to ask them. We created an nvite event and during registration asked what they were hoping to learn.

We received a range of answers from learning specifics of the tool such as how to make complex transitions between multiple screens to more broad goals like learning the basics and understand what you can create in Atomic.

With these goals in mind, we moved on to crafting the workshop outline & presentation, as well as organising the logistics around the event.

Preparation leading up to the workshop

It’s obvious to say that you have to prepare the outline, structure and content of the workshop. But equally important is planning your environment. Will there be food? What kind and when? Where will the event be held? Is it located somewhere central and easily accessible? How will you present? Where will your attendees site? Is there wifi? Power outlets?

Quite quickly you realize there’s a lot of things to organize!

We decided to hold our workshop at the Pr.co office in Amsterdam. Sourcing a projector, arranging some desks and chairs created a cosy workshop environment. We kicked things off with some food, drinks and socialising in one room, before heading into the workshop space to get down to business.

Crafting the workshop structure

The best advice I’ve received for any kind of public speaking, whether it’s a workshop, presentation or webinar, is:

Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you’ve told them.

With this in mind, we created a presentation that followed this rule. We were up front with what they were going to learn, how long we’d spend on each section and what the format of the workshop was.

I also made it explicitly clear what the goal of the session was, early on in the presentation. This helped to clarify their expectations for the session, and also gave the attendees a goal to work towards.

Jumping into hosting a workshop blindly without informing the attendees of the agenda is a little bit like walking in the dark for them. Establish the learnings, goals and expectations up front to ensure everyone’s on the same page as you pace throughout the presentation.

Always collect feedback

At the end of the workshop each attendee filled out a short feedback form via Typeform anonymously. This was the easiest and most efficient way to get their feedback — which we’d then later analyse to see what improvements could be made.

Their answers helped identify some key areas of what worked well and what didn’t during the workshop, such as:

What went well:

The up-front demo — during the introductory session I demo’ed Atomic in the editor. The majority of the attendees enjoyed this demo, though some wish they could have followed along on their own laptop (they weren’t yet connected to the wifi at this point in the workshop).

Enjoyed the hands on approach — attendees liked that they could ask questions, collaborate with other attendees and learn some tips and tricks.

The pace and timing — the total length of the workshop was around 2 hours. We started with 30mins of food & drinks, 30 minutes of intro and demo, then a one hour workshop session.

What could be improved:

More Atomic staff present — this would’ve benefited not just the attendees, but myself as well. I’m the only Atomic teammate based in Amsterdam, so this unfortunately isn’t easily achieved. But we’ll get creative about that next time.

More prototype examples — during the workshop the goal was to create an interactive prototype, based off an example prototype. Having a beginners, intermediate and advanced prototype demo would allow the attendees to choose their level and create their prototype accordingly. This would also allow some more exploration into the finer details of complex interactions, which some requested.

More attendee participation — some said it would have been nice to see what other were working on, or to demo their prototype.

Running a workshop is a rewarding and challenging experience. We’ve learnt a lot from our first session and are working on incorporating some of the above feedback into our next workshop.

Want to request (or run!) an Atomic workshop in your home town? 
Suggest it here.

Thanks to Devon Moodley for taking the photos for this post.