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User Experience Workshop: How to get your development team involved in UX

author

Karin Gamus

January 25, 2022 | 4 min read

Ever wondered how to get your development team to prioritize UX? In this article, Karin talks us through her user experience workshop and the framework she uses to align dev teams.

 

As a Product Manager at Contentsquare, I’m in charge of the development of our error analysis module, which provides insights into key website errors that need fixing. One of my main goals is to get a deeper understanding of how our customers use our product so that I can identify their challenges, issues, and product needs. 

I don’t do this alone (obviously!) — we have an amazing team made up of Application Developers, Data Scientists, Data Engineers, QAs, UX Designers, Project Managers, and more. And to successfully build features that support different use cases, we all need to understand how customers use our products. 

But wait..how can developers really understand customers’ challenges when they are busy coding, don’t have time to meet them, or have experience using the product themselves?

Spotting this, I tried to think about a way to bridge the gap. 

I wanted to ensure that great UX is at the forefront of every single development decision made. So, to get my team aligned on user experience, I decided to organize a User Experience Workshop! Here’s how it worked out: 

The UX workshop methodology

After consulting with different teams at Contentsquare, I created a framework for the workshop that would take our team through all the different elements of our user experience.

User experience workshop strategy

The workshop included three different parts: 

  1. First, an introduction round with our dedicated solution expert, who was able to share the daily struggles and successes our customers have using our solution. She stayed with us throughout the workshop, answering questions, and presenting challenges to the team that they never thought we had in our product.
  2. Then, we had a round of 6 exercises that span throughout the end-to-end usability of the product. Here the goal was to expose the team to the main challenges users experience while using our product by asking them to analyze and explain 6 different situations the customers face. We asked questions such as:
    ✅ What does this information mean to the customer?
    ✅ What should the customer do when facing this issue?
    ✅ What could we do to help the customers get the information they need in this scenario?
  3. The third and final part of the workshop was an exercise where we completely switched roles –  the team had to “convince” our solutions expert to buy the product. We even gave them an account with real user data! Their goal was to find quantifiable value in the product that would convince a customer to buy it. For this part, I split the team into two small groups. This took about one hour. Each team was then asked to share their results with the entire group, and the solutions experts, and I gave them some constructive feedback.

Overall the entire workshop took about 3 hours.

 

How to plan & execute a user experience workshop

Doing the workshop was a simple but effective way to get our product team to understand the importance of UX in their daily work. 

Of course this being the first time doing a workshop like this, I learned quite a few things along the way. So here are my top tips for how to plan a successful user experience workshop: 

  • Workshops take time…and lots of it! So, make sure to book a good slot in everyone’s calendars and ensure they make it a priority.
  • For the exercises part, the solutions expert and I took time before the workshop to brainstorm ideas for use cases. It’s a good idea to do this to find the most relevant use cases that reflect the main customer pain points in your product today. 
  • To ease your team into it! We constructed the exercises to start with simple use cases and end with very complex ones. 
  • When planning the exercises, remember to take into account that you might have different members with different seniority levels attending the workshop, so try to touch on both generic and complex issues. 
  • For the final “role switch” exercise, select a scenario that teams will be able to find value for, but don’t make it too easy. We also deliberately selected a scenario that could be approached in multiple ways, to give them some freedom to come up with solutions. 
  • Align with your team leads and stakeholders! Taking 3 hours from their daily work needs to be justified, so prior to organizing the workshop, I had meetings with the different managers to make sure they were aligned on the need for this workshop. 

 

The benefits of our UX workshop

The team was engaged from the beginning, learning about the struggles and successes our users face and voicing their ideas on how to solve them. 

In a few months, I’ll be able to quantify the effects of the workshop, but for now, I can say that:

  1. The team had to struggle — they had to look at the big picture and really understand how each feature supports the customer’s ability to use the product successfully. This point was already worth the investment, as they now understand how the different features connect as one customer experience and they know what’s needed to make it much better. 
  2. The information has to flow regularly to the teams. The workshop gave them a lot of information, and now I need to make sure to share use cases and interview summaries on a regular basis. 
  3. We got a lot of feature ideas to solve real customer issues during the workshop. (how great is that?)
  4. For the new team members, it’s a chance to learn the product and get to know their colleagues. 
  5. Time fly’s when you’re having fun! The team seemed to really enjoy the workshop and it didn’t feel like 3 hours.
  6. It’s a bonding experience, for new and veteran team members alike. 

My hope is that this knowledge will serve our product development team every day when making decisions. Having had each team member engaged in the user experience in a deep way will most definitely influence our product positively and make our customers proud to use it. 

Get all your teams to prioritize UX

Want everyone in your digital team thinking about user experience? Watch a demo of our user experience analytics tool designed for everyone in your digital teams. Help your acquisition, content, eCommerce, merchandising, analytics, and product teams all access the right insights, right now.

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