A poster I presented at the Special Interest Group on Design of Communication (http://sigdoc.acm.org/). The poster depicts a workflow for teaching and training students and professionals in user experience design.
A Workflow for Teaching and Training
Assistant Professor of Technical
and Professional Communication
This poster is a depiction of a workflow for developing sound practices in
user experience design (UX) within any organization sufficiently invested in
such work. Specifically, I present methods for introducing professionals from
any background to key UX knowledge-making practices (ways); deliverables
and concepts that professionals new to UX should be able to create (things);
and means of sustaining this work within organizations (impact). The
ultimate goal of this workflow is to create small, sustainable improvements in
the way an organization approaches UX by utilizing best practices developed
by thought leaders in both industry and academia.
As both a teacher and consultant, my job is usually to take someone who
has little to no direct experience with UX, to introduce them to UX best
practices, and to get them working on an actual UX project. Below are
some ways I’ve done this.
Key resource for UX ways: Leah Buley’s User Experience Team of One.
Team strategy sessions – get everyone in a room together who will be
working on a given project, introduce some main project elements (e.g.
people, workflow, deadlines, goals/outcomes, deliverables), and have
them discuss until a plan emerges. Messy, but effective when dealing with
Workshops – if everyone keeps coming to you in your organization asking
the same questions, why not turn those questions into a workshop on the
main topics arising? The more hands-on you can make it, the better. You
could introduce a series of workshops that rotate so everyone is sure to
get served the knowledge they need.
Research expeditions – having a hard time getting people to understand
the UX process or other concepts? Why not organize an expedition of
willing souls to a UX conference, meet up, or to talk to some users they
don’t usually encounter? In my experience, the more people do UX, the
more they start to like it and respect it as a legitimate form of design
practice. And sometimes you just need someone else echoing what you’ve
been saying in meetings.
Collaborative projects – is a there a group of people (or multiple groups)
who are really struggling to do UX? Why not get in there with them and
help them? Make sure you define your role, though! There’s nothing
worse than people not understanding why you’re in the room with them
and questioning your every suggestion.
As an academic with no industry background in UX, I use the blogs, books,
and conference presentations of industry thought leaders to help me.
Here’s a list of resources I consult on a regular basis:
Looking for a model for a UX class? Try this one:
A concept borrowed from the field of instructional design, impactful
teaching and training works on two levels: the instructor learns by
teaching, and students and trainees learn best when the instructor
focuses on where they’re at as learners. Below are some best practices
I’ve adopted to ensure I’m having a positive impact on the people I’m
Key resource for UX impact: Tomer Sharon’s It’s Our Research.
Thinking Like Researchers and Problem Solvers – If professionals see
UX as an add-on to work they’re already doing, they won’t invest in it.
They have to see it as a way to solve problems they’re facing. And again:
the best way to ensure this is to get them doing it. Once they begin to
solve problems with UX, the utility of the practice speaks for itself.
Sustainability First and Last (Start Small) – People don’t become UX
experts over night. It’s better to have a small, sustainable impact, than a
big one that won’t ever happen again once the consultant isn’t around.
Besides getting buy-in by introducing UX as a problem-solving strategy,
talking about the next project and how permanent resources within the
organization will be devoted to UX is key.
I’ve found that there are certain concepts that are essential for
professionals without direct UX experience to understand if
they’re going to begin to actually do UX.
Key resource for UX things: Rex Hartson and Pardha Pyla’s The
UX Process – A lot of professionals who encounter UX for the
first start from the idea that UX is something you do after you’ve
built something to make sure it works. Introducing the idea that
UX is a process that starts as soon as product development starts
is key. I typically introduce UX as the following discrete, but
overlapping, design stages:
UX Is More Than Usability – A lot of UX newbies also consider
UX to be a simple rebranding of usability. Introducing them to
other elements of UX besides usability, like information
architecture, user research, and visual design, is key to dispelling
this notion. I like to use infographics to do this, such as UX 101:
What Is UX? by Homestead:
Methods and Deliverables – I’ve also found that getting students
and trainees working with actual methods (e.g. card sorting,
usability testing, contextual inquiry, wireframing, etc.) helps
them understand what UX is much more than just talking about