Good morning/afternoon. I'm Vernon. I'm the User Experience Specialist at Deakin University Library. Find me @vfowler on Twitter & Instagram for pics of our super-cute daughter.
Today I'm talking about Wall Rooms. All the literature refers to them as War Rooms, but as my trusted colleague pointed out, this has a nasty connotation of a place to do battle. So wall rooms takes the essence of war rooms and discards the fighting aspects.
By the end of my presentation, you'll not only understand what these rooms are, and why they work, but also how to put one together.
Let’s start with where they came from. Military facilities are the most common association, but they’re also used by governments and businesses. The term "war room" is also often used in politics to refer to teams of communications people who 1) monitor the media and the public, 2) respond to inquiries, and 3) synthesize opinions to determine the best course of action.
In Project Wall Rooms though, the walls are covered with sticky notes, photos, wireframes, and user interface designs. Quotes and photos from user research help us develop empathy so we can walk in the shoes of users. Data, insights, and ideas associated with projects are physically available to see, touch, organize, and start synthesizing ideas.
Project Wall Rooms provide a central gathering place for collaboration and team work. Stepping away from computers and into the room makes it easier to avoid distractions. In wall rooms we can immerse ourselves in everything we’ve seen and learnt.
This Pinterest board curates UX war rooms. The pictures illustrate 3 essential elements for a wall room. Can you guess what they are? Wall / window / table surfaces People – working together Artefacts (sticky notes, etc)
Let’s move on to why they work. To solve complex problems we need to keep track of lots of moving parts. Humans have a poor short-term memory but our spatial memory is brilliant. In a room full of notes, we start to know where the info is, and this sticks in our minds. Secondly, it’s quicker and easier to manipulate and order sticky notes or re-draw a diagram than to make decisions verbally or even digitally. Last, there’s no need to wonder if people are on the same page when your room is the page! You’ll quickly build a shared understanding and spend less time revisiting already discussed issues.
And why not when it’s simple to get up and running. Sticky notes, whiteboards, markers, pencils – simple stationery. Furnishings on wheels mean you can set up almost anywhere. Seating is important for when you need to talk a lot. Desks are handy for drawing on paper. And you don’t have to use a fixed room. Because these are everyday office tools, everyone can participate. You don’t need to know keyboard shortcuts to Adobe Illustrator!
So what else do you need to make a wall room? Although the literature says you need a lot of surface area, start with as much as you can get your hands on. Whiteboards are great. Windows can work well too. Blu-tack is fast, except on regular walls. We were lucky here at Waterfront Library in that there was a junk storage room not being used for much other than private phone calls. If you commandeer a meeting room, see if you can remove it from calendar scheduling or book it out completely. Staff need free access to the space and the projects.
To sum up, wall rooms lever our strong spatial memory; They’re simple to set up, portable if need be, They make it easy for everyone to gain a shared understanding And last of all, they help us solve complex problems faster and with better solutions.
I want to say thanks to Chris Burton who is Deakin’s wall room queen. She shared her experience with using wall rooms at NAB.
Before I open the floor to comments and questions, would you like to see what’s on our walls?
Thanks for listening. Now it’s over to you for comments and questions.
Timeline of library search systems, identifying pain points through to proposed feature changes.