"Ease of use may be invisible, but its absence sure isn't" - IBM.
This sentence has lived in my mind since I started realizing all those irritating and sometimes even absurd daily life situations we experience, such as these ones:
Those design failures are one of the numerous reasons why I became curious about UX and all its beneficial impacts on our journey.
As a new start resolution, I made a promise to myself: stop complaining and give myself the tools to ease our day-to-day life. At some point you have to either choose to let it go or take actions to make it better.
I made my first move when I decided to join the Young Potential Program of Movify. As Yopos, Blanche and I enjoy picking conferences according to our aspirations and competencies. The two-day UX bootcamp given by Karol Dulat seemed to be a good start to honor my fresh resolution. We were both excited to enhance our competencies in understanding people's journey and clarifying the blurred line between UX and Design thinking.
I have to confess, I looked for more information about Karol before attending the class. A quick look at his profile gave me a good foretaste:
When I first arrived, I was delighted to chit-chat with the other participants around the table full of warm croissants, brioches and freshly-squeezed orange juice. It was an enriching smooth start as I met people with various backgrounds and stories to share. For instance, while Bruno, UI designer, wanted to know more about UX, Lisa, freelancer, wished to shift her mindset towards a more user-centered approach. We had very interesting conversations about UX and its complementarity with other jobs.
Enough talking; time to check-in! Before jumping into theory, we all shared our respective expectations regarding this Bootcamp. While some participants wanted to discover the key principles of UX, others were looking for practical exercises and best practices coming from a UX expert.
Karol organized the training in two-parts. The first day focusing on UX practices, the second covering Design Thinking spirit and methodology.
Karol fulfilled our expectations with a well-prepared planning. He started by teaching the essence of UX. Numerous UX definitions exist but I'll give you the one I prefer: make people's journey easy and relevant by understanding, sketching, testing and measuring users' interactions. Then, he illustrated the concept of UX design with real-life situations and best practices. He gave the example of a new mobile app launched without doing any research. Surprisingly for the stakeholders, it completely flopped and they discovered too late that their customers didn't need this app. This real-life example emphasizes the necessity of doing user research at the seeds of a project to build a meaningful experience.
Guess what? One month later, I've been part of a project where I encountered the same issue: our client wanted to build an application for his B2C users in order to be ahead of the competition, without even wandering which needs it was solving. After a user research, it turns out that the mobile app wouldn't bring much value to their customers. This client saved considerable time (and $$) in developing the app that wouldn't have been used.
User research is a time saver. It reduces your likelihood to develop a products or a feature that doesn't answer your users' need.
The best way to see if we understood the theory (and if we were good students too) was to go on the field and practice it. That's how, after conducting a desk research and defining the proto-personas based on Karol's business case, I found myself interviewing users in the street with Blanche, my teammate for the day. This method is called guerrilla research: walking around & ask strangers a set of questions. Yes, it may sound a bit weird.. but that's how you get quick results without deploying significant resources.
If you're short of money and have barely no time just conduct a Guerrilla research!
More time consuming but richer in information, user interview is a more elaborate way to get to know your users. Karol recommended some tips & tricks on how to **avoid cognitive biases when conducting that kind of research.
Make the user at ease is a must to ensure he is behaving naturally. You can comfort him by explaining the purpose of your research and that there is no wrong or good answer. The facilitator, who's driving the interview, has to be careful when asking questions to his users. Preparing guidelines and questions properly is fundamental to run user interviews or tests.
During an interview, avoid giving your opinion or suggestions as asking for a solution. Yes/No questions are to prohibited. This could bias the user.
Throughout the whole training, he suggested lots of useful tools. Let's have a look at those I often use now, from desk research and moodboards creation to sketches.
Based on the interview's results, we refined our personas and ran an ideation session (keeping in mind the business priorities). We looked for inspiration on existing solutions or well-designed applications and gathered our insights through Moodboards.
As I already used the program Sketch, I rushed myself into designing low-fidelity sketches. I was stopped in my tracks by Karol who explained the necessity of first handmade sketches and flow mapping ("not just in your head Emilie!"). Design sketches on paper mitigates the risk of getting into too much details.
Do not rack your brain on high-fidelity wireframes forthwith. To test the core functionalities, sketches are enough. Proceed by iterations will allow you to build your product step by step and avoid going straight for disaster.
To round off this hectic day, we checked out by looking back at everything we've learned. My head filled up with good UX practices, I came home thinking about all the tips and tricks I could use in my future projects. I rushed myself on my comfy sofa hoping...
A. We're gonna put Design Thinking into practice
B. There's gonna be croissants tomorrow
Which option do you think I was hoping for?
Focus Design Thinking
Well, even tough I was glad to find my voluptuous croissant back filled with dark chocolate, I was more excited to see how Karol will tackle this second day. During the check-in time, I found out that almost everyone shared the same expectation: clarify the blurred line between Design Thinking and UX.
Well, Karol made it crystal clear by opening the second session with the concept of Design Thinking and its distinction from UX.
Design Thinking is made to solve hard problems related to service design. It would come prior to UX and have a broader focus. Instead of creating particular products, it aims to get a global understanding of the ecosystem.
A UX project could be the design of an app improving the user experience while the Design Thinking process will question why this product even exists.
Karol illustrated the concept of Design Thinking with different methods. A common approach is to use the Double Diamond process model: first, what you need to build and second, how you will build it. It starts by a diverging phase with tons of ideas and then converge by narrowing down to the best idea. Make no mistake: this process should be interpreted as a never ending circle!
What's often used to brainstorm is the How Might We (HMW) question. Let's imagine you face the following issue: “We need to increase our food-product market share among teenagers by 5%”. You could reframe this problem statement by asking "how might we…. encourage teenagers to perform an action that benefits them and also involves your company’s food-product or service?". This would ease the ideation session by encouraging people to brainstorm about potential solutions.
To help you ideate and find new opportunities, reframe the problem with How Might We (HMW) questions
Enough theory! From early morning, Karol challenged the class by asking to design a specific objectuseful and meaningful for one of our Workshop peers. Exciting!
Once the prototype built, do not think it's over yet because presenting a design is as important as its conception! Story telling is a great way to present it. That's why Karol brought us back in our childhood, by reminding us the structure of a fairy tale: exposition - problem - rising action - crisis - resolution - falling action - end of the story. Your persona should be the main character of the adventure, going through all the steps while illustrating how each business and user goals would be fulfilled.
I don't want to spoil the training calendar, let's preserve the mystery for those willing to attend the next UX bootcamp. Nonetheless, what I can tell you is that I'm now ready to co-create a new concept with whoever is in!
Let's just count how many times I said the word "user" in this article... 17 times!
Although this word grabs all the attention, UX isn't only about users but goes beyond by including stakeholders and technical feasibility. As highlighted many times, the final purpose of UX is to bridge the gap between user needs and business goals.People often misunderstand UX and think it's only about the user but it's more about building a meaningful service or product for both users and the business!
Always keep in mind that the goal is to match business goals with user needs.
Thanks to Karol for sharing his experience in such a constructive and interactive way. I can't wait to attend other related trainings in the forthcoming months. Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions!
Emile and Blanche are two young professionals curious about UX who joined Movify recently as part of the Young Potential Program.