We kicked off 2017 design events at Substantial with a session on “Effective UX Communication” for HexagonUX Seattle (formerly known as XXUX Seattle). Making sure the community feels inspired and supported by events in our space is a huge part of our company culture. So, for this event, it was important to come up with a format that helped educate our design community in actionable ways while also supporting different learning and communication styles and creating a space for deeper, meaningful connection. With all that in mind, we came up with a mixed agenda of mingling, presenting, and workshopping activities. Keep reading for a quick summary of how it went and insights from the event that any designer could use in their day-to-day.
The focus of our night was to share ways to stop wasting time and energy through more effective UX communication with any audience. Coming from a background in client services, we’ve seen immense value in doing this for our clients and internal teams because it helps to avoid frustration, confusion, and repetition for everyone involved. The key to more effective communication itself lies beyond considering the format of the deliverable or artifact you’re sharing — it’s about meeting the needs of your audience and walking away with actionable results. That means having a clear picture of why you’re communicating your work, what information is important, and how valuable the format and fidelity of crafting the communication is.
While there’s not an exact science to determine these things, our presentation shared a simple framework that could help make these distinctions— an acronym of “D.E.T.” Pronounced like “debt”, this acronym stands for “The desired Outcome. Environment. Toolkit.” It not only reminds us to remove our ego from the deliverables and artifacts we’re producing, but also:
1. Helps us determine the type of context we need to set based on our desired outcome
2. Correlates the types of details necessary to share for different personalities
3. Relates fidelity of production to the time and relevance of your work
4. Explains how audience expectations can impact the selection of deliverable or artifact formats.
Remembering the acronym of “D.E.T” can help us improve the efficacy of communicating our UX and design thinking work by reframing it to meet the needs of our audience with the least amount of effort.
For more details on this framework and a deeper look at the presentation, check out our link at the bottom of this post.
In the second half of the night, we switched to small group workshops. We encouraged meeting and building new relationships in this activity by randomly pre-assigning groups using animal names on attendees’ name tags and corresponding tables. So when it came time for workshopping, attendees simply headed to the table whose animal name matched their name tag — creating an easy way to group with someone new and a quick transition into the activities.
Ranging from four to six individuals, each group was given one of four random prompts with a challenge and scenario (see image below) that allowed them to figure out an effective communication plan based on the DET framework we just discussed. We started off with introductions at each table (to let folks get to know each other), then dove into individual problem solving, followed by sharing within the teams.
In the end, we asked for volunteers to share their experiences with the whole crowd and some of the communication plans they had created. Some of the general trends that came out were to think of the desired outcome first and work back through the framework of “D.E.T.” to select formats for deliverables/artifacts and details that would be shared in the communication plans.
In the Substantial spirit of continuous improvement, we asked attendees to share feedback with us at the end of our session about the format, facilities, and content. We got some great positive impressions and really useful suggestions that we hope to take forward to future sessions. Overall, we’re really glad to have shared our space and provided some value, and shared actionable education with our community of fellow designers. We hope to continue doing so as we move forward!
Special thanks to Kristine Kohlhepp, Chelsey Glasson, and Jada Williams of HexagonUX for helping us organize and host the event.