Pushing ourselves to better our UX skills — in public

Melissa Eggleston
Nov 22, 2016 · 5 min read

Our Ladies that UX Durham group has many women looking to improve their skills. Instigated by product designer Wren Lanier, we held a whiteboard challenge night. We were all inspired by this article The Ninja Skill for UX Designers.

Julie Grundy, UX Designer and Information Architect at Duke University, kicked off the challenge with “Y’all Where’s My Car!”

We wrote up some whiteboard challenges for our group. We folded them up, and sight unseen, people picked out one to try. Typically these challenges are done in 20 minutes, and most easily filled that amount of time.

For our new-to-UX folks, it was helpful to see how experienced UXers talked through a problem.

It got us all thinking about voice UI and other challenges outside of our normal day-to-day work.

Here’s our list of whiteboard challenges for you to use. Grab some friends or coworkers and try them:

Easy Challenges

These challenges we thought might be the easier ones to do:

SnapPeach: Add Your Contacts
You’re working on what your team hopes will be the next hot social messaging app, SnapPeach. You need to add a way for users to add contacts from their phone or from other social networks. Users need to be able to select a service, then select which contacts they import. Note: SnapPeach is launching on iOS, so this is a mobile-only challenge.

Online Shipping Costs
You work for a fashion retailer that has launched an online store in the last year. Analytics show that customers are bailing in the checkout process once shipping fees have been calculated. How would you aim to improve the company’s conversion rate? The business cannot afford to offer free shipping all the time.

Y’all, Where’s My Car?
The American Tobacco Campus parking office has noticed a growing trend of people wandering around the deck looking for their parked car. Weary workers are resulting to clicking the car alarm to find their car. Noise pollution is at an all time high. ATC is commissioning your group to create an additional feature to their existing app to assist with this growing problem. In user research you’ve learned that ease of use is critical for it to be effective.

eCommerce Wish List
You work for a large national retailer with a significant ecommerce business. Your stakeholders want to add a Wish List feature to your store, so shoppers can save items they may want to buy later. How would you 1) integrate this into the UI of the store and 2) let customers know that this feature is now available?

Gotta Eat and Fly
You work for a company that manages airport restaurants. Your team has been tasked with updating the iPad interface that travelers use to order food to their tables. User feedback indicates that travelers would like additional features to help them avoid having to rush through their meal. Travelers don’t always have a good sense of how long it will take for a restaurant’s kitchen to prepare menu items or the amount of time needed to get from the restaurant to their gate.

Our attendees called out ideas and questions to the facilitator at the whiteboard. Our informal group offers peer support and the chance to make UX connections outside of the office. We meet monthly and chat on Slack between meetings.

Intermediate Challenges

The following are a little tougher:

LinkedIn Location Finder
You work for the UX team at LinkedIn. Users would like to be able to discover people they already know or people they might like to know when at large conferences they are attending. How might you add location services to LinkedIn to help users network and connect?

Meetup.com: Add an Analytics Section
You work on the UX team at Meetup.com. Meetup group owners want access to analytics data about their group pages: how many people are viewing events, conversion rate of group viewers to members, conversion rate of event viewers to attendees, and more. How would you tackle this? (Assumption: a fair amount of interview research has been done with group owners already. It’s time to begin exploring solutions.)

RestArea RestStops
While traveling by car, many people prefer stopping at rest areas when there is not the need to fill up the gasoline tank, but there is a lack of differentiation in Google Maps between state sponsored rest areas and commercial stops. Standard facilities at rest areas may include park-like areas, vending machines, picnic tables, pet areas, maps, and restrooms. Your team has been commissioned to make an iOS app that is to help travelers find rest stops. They’ve asked for a “ready in your pocket” version of the standard highway sign; for example, “Next Rest Stop 10 miles”.

Netflix: Add a Note to a Movie/TV Show
Users want the ability to make notes on things they’ve watched or added to their queue. Where did they hear about this? Why did they want to watch it? What did they think about it? Stakeholders see this as a potential source of rich data for mining, so want the experience to be frictionless and appealing. Primary vectors: Apple TV or tablet app.

Wren, looking deliriously happy at the whiteboard, led the group through a lively discussion of the voice UI challenge.

Difficult Challenge

We thought this one was pretty tough.

Voice UI for your Bank Account
You are a design director for a large national bank. Your bank wants to be ready to launch an “app” that will allow your customers to access their account information via a voice UI such as Amazon Alexa.

The primary use cases for the initial release are: check balance, check for recent deposits, check for recent transactions, and provide information about special personalized offers such as pre-approvals for credit cards or lines of credit. How do you approach the challenge of providing information via a series of voice requests?

Until Next Time

When we were already 30 minutes over our end time, we reluctantly wrapped up. But we plan to host another one of these nights soon. The activity helped UXers practice their facilitation and sketching skills. But the best thing was just how much fun it was!

Try it out for yourself. Just ask one of us organizers if you have any questions. Enjoy!


Written by Ladies that UX Durham Organizers: Wren Lanier, Amanda Stockwell, Lauren Hirsh, Julie Grundy, and Melissa Eggleston. Thanks to Lauren for taking photos!

Ladies that UX Durham

User experience professionals working in or near Durham, NC, USA

Melissa Eggleston

Written by

Helping create user-friendly and inclusive experiences. UX Consultant, Researcher, Co-organizer Ladies that UX Durham. #contentstrategy #UX #research

Ladies that UX Durham

User experience professionals working in or near Durham, NC, USA

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