Ditch the heavy UX case study and go for lightweight presentations

If you are a beginner at UX moving through your first project, you may want to begin sharing your work as soon as possible and get some feedback. Medium is a great place to do this. I’ve read many case studies published by members here and learned a lot from them. I’ve also started writing the first draft of my own story, but decided to stop for now. Here’s why I prefer to do my work the lean way at this point.

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Recently, I’ve been exploring ways of opening opportunities to learn UX by increasing the output and implementing a quick iteration workflow. This allows me to gain more insights, test more assumptions faster and learn more from it than I would ever learn from polishing details.

This approach seems to be in line with Lean UX principles.

A Lean UX practitioner will put more emphasis on speeding up the workflow by ditching a part of the weight (time, resources, detailed documentation) that some deliverables can introduce.

In any case, starting to write the draft for your case study early on in the process seems to have the tendency to become a heavy roadblock. It can actually hinder you from going forward the deeper you get into the process. This approach to documenting your progress can backfire at you. And if it can, it will.

I’ve recently reviewed my draft, which became a massive, 20-page document. Large chunk of it is filled with graphs showing the data I gathered from research, but still that’s a lot of content. And some of it isn’t really helpful anymore, if I want to show my research to other people. It’s become too detailed and unmaintainable.

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Ditching the case study in favour of lightweight presentations

You may decide to ditch the draft for now and instead begin to create presentations with some notes attached to them. It will immediately become obvious that this is a sensible approach to take. Here are the four main reasons:

  1. Ability to focus on smaller chunks of work. Each presentation can deal with only a selection of topics. Instead of updating a single heavy document, you can create a new presentation which will be an update to the previous one. Treat each of those presentations as a kind of lightweight, temporary tool that will carry you for one meeting. Once they fulfill their purpose, put them away (keep them in an archive for future reference) and move on to the next thing.
  2. Being ready to present your work to others on demand. Single large document will not be finished until the project is mostly complete. It’s useless as a tool until it’s done. Nobody would want to take the effort to search for the info they currently need in such a document. That’s just bad UX. Small presentations are easy to prepare and present. Remember about the attention span and busyness of your coworkers and show respect for them by not burdening them with additional work.
  3. Freeing time to be able to quickly move to other, more important tasks. If putting the slides together takes you at most an hour, the more you can do during your day.
  4. Iterating and improving on your presentation skills. This will be a great opportunity to learn an extremely important tool. If you are uncertain about your presentation skills, then use this opportunity to also iterate on those and learn by creating many smaller presentations.

Learning to create good presentations is a task in itself, but you should think it’s worth the investment if you are serious about a career in UX. Your job will require you to speak about your projects all the time. One tip I can offer here is to make them as simple as possible. A couple of words per slide should be good in most cases.

As for the case study document, that’s something I will write and publish once my project is complete and I will be able to see what was really important and what wasn’t.