UX workshops are difficult to moderate and neigh impossible to master. I’ve had a fair amount of experience with these with CEOs, owners, users, founders and other stakeholders ranging from small businesses that turn over £100,000+ per year to much larger businesses at £15m+ per year. Language barriers, boredom, physical presence and other roadblocks can mean the best of organised UX workshops go poorly.
These can be in the form of:
- a requirements gathering session; also known as a kick-off meeting
- a meeting or workshop to solve a specific UX problem
In either case there are some core principles that lie under both of these that we should follow in order to ensure we moderate these effectively and get what we need to out of them.
In terms of my beliefs they actually boil down to 5 key, easy-to-follow principles.
- Set expectations. Define an agenda with what you are going to and, perhaps even more important, what you’re not going to do. For example, we’re not going to solve everything in a day so timing can be somewhat important when moderating as much as keeping the discussion flowing and eliciting those key, focal points from your stakeholders.
- Prioritise. Use the KJ technique and, where possible, prioritise absolutely everything. The classic “I need everything on the homepage” routine when wireframing collaboratively is a prime example of this. We need to prioritise what we see as the most important based on a mix of both the user and the business needs, even a compromise.
- Bring everything back to the user. Ensure that the user is the focus of the conversation and bring everything back to them – what would they want and why?
- Build relationships. Your audience can easily get bored so it’s vital to build relationships with them – something simple as remembering their name or what they said earlier is gold dust.
- Make it fun. Because they can often take a significant amount of time, making your workshops fun with games and other activities to spice things up is definitely worthwhile.
I actually wrote about how to run a better UX workshop – the tips and tricks around this – as a blog post. If you’d like to read about this in more detail, I’d recommend reading this blog post. There are also some great resources around this including:
- Smashing Magazine wrote a great article recently on the value of holding a kickoff meeting before diving into the design
- Kevin Hoffman’s http://goodkickoffmeetings.com
- Google Ventures take on UX workshops called ‘Meetings that don’t suck’ presentation. Worth the 1hr 15m watch I promise.
- Usability.gov’s question-driven kickoff document
Get in touch
If you’d like to learn more about a structured UX approach I’m more than happy to discuss this with you and your requirements. I’m certain with my track record in using this approach I can facilitate in a proven methodology that will get the best out of your team and the most efficient user-centric solution for your client.