Whether beginning the product development process, discovering different product ideas or working on an existing one, getting the team together from time to time and discussing progress and learnings always pays off.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Involving everyone gets them on the same page best. In a UX workshop, we share research results with the participants and let them come up with their own conclusions. You can read about the UX research methods we use in a previous blog post. Everyone likes when their ideas affect things, so we give them the opportunity. Invite all decision makers and stakeholders from the product team who might have valuable input: product owner(s), designers, developers, researchers etc.
We will introduce three well-known tools here that can help develop a common understanding about the product and users among team members. So let the fun begin!
Get everybody on the same page with a UX workshop
1. Persona workshop
What are personas?
We create personas, fictitious characters who embody specific key characteristics of target user groups, and thus draw closer to them. The first step of any product development is drafting them. They help define different types of people who will use a product and their main characteristics.
This UX workshop aims not just to create personas, but to get everyone to know the users better by talking about them for an hour. Everybody in contact with the users gets together (salespeople, support, business managers) and through examples of actual customers, they fill in the below introduced template.
Interviews and field research results form the basis of the best personas. Otherwise, we can only talk about “proto-personas” based on our own assumptions. Distribute the interview recordings to the workshop participants and ask everybody to represent a given interviewee at the workshop. This means real data and everybody gets closer to the users.
A canvas is often a good tool to run a UX workshop. This one is for personas.
What does a persona look like?
UX studio uses the following persona template, free to download from our website. We examine four main criteria for each user persona together.
- User’s prior knowledge about the given area: Who is the product for, everyday people or professionals? What do users know about similar products? What expectations do they have? All these need to be taken into account when designing the product and the user onboarding process.
- Context: Where is the product used? What device and platform? When? Where are they physically? What are they doing at the time of use and what is happening all around? Are they focusing only on this, or is their attention divided? An application used on a mobile phone in a crowded bus requires a completely different design from one used sitting at a desk in a quiet room.
- The problem: Which specific, well-articulated issue would people like to solve with the product? In other words, what exact goal do they want to achieve?
- The motivation: What inner driving force makes the user want to solve the above problems? We practically dig one layer deeper into people’s souls and look for those inner incentives which inspire them. While the problem is a specific, well-formulated goal, the underlying motivations are more general and subjective.
Luckily, scientists have collected the most common inner motivations:
- Recognition and respect;
- Sense of control;
- Need to feel special;
- Need to improve at something (become competent in it);
- Need to belong;
Demographic data (gender, age, residence) have very little added value and might lead the way of thinking in the wrong direction. For this reason, do not talk about them during the persona workshop.
Create user personas at the beginning of the work in order to have the users in mind throughout the designing process, to be able to put ourselves into their position. Alliterative names for particular user personas makes them more memorable, for example Truck Toby or Teenage Tina. Drawings are useful, too. Our template also provides space for a short quotation, written as if the user persona uttered it. It aims to summarize the user persona in a single sentence.
The user personas can hang on the wall to be before our eyes at all times. For this reason, many designers create poster type of personas, as seen below.
2. Customer journey workshop
Customer journeys or experience maps help provide a holistic view about a service and map the important aspects to address.
Just to clarify the terms, customer journey is not the same as user journey. A user journey shows how people move inside an app.
The customer journey (or experience map) aims to map the whole process the customers go through. It can help to see a holistic picture, and examine what happens long before they first use the product and after usage, too. During this UX workshop, many previously unimagined things will rise to the surface. It can help to see the product from many different aspects. It enables the collecting and organizing of all the information about the connection between a product and its users. The customer journey workshop will help to align the team’s thoughts and ideas. At the end, everyone will have a clear picture of the context.
So how do we create a customer journey?
- Create a draft: Start in-house first and create a draft. Organize a workshop with the project team and the stakeholders in order to put it together. Also invite sales or support people in contact with customers. Define the journey steps and the important aspects to examine on the customer’s and the organization’s sides. The draft journey will provide ideas what to look for during research.
- Research: The customer journey is just a hypothetical unless built on data, so next do interviews and field research. During the research, gather information about what people are actually doing in each phase. Which solutions and processes do they currently use? What are their pain points and what do they feel at different stages?
- Organize information and ideate: When the research is done, start organizing the information. The customer journey has two main parts as you can see below: the tpo part is about the customer’s thoughts and feelings in certain steps, and the bottom part is about what the company do in each step. You can look for patterns in the research data together with the team to fill the upper part about the customers or you can fill the upper half of the diagram yourself and ideate just on the bottom part with the team.
Putting together the customer journey will help generate feature ideas when working on a new product.
Working on an existing product will highlight loads of ideas and points to improve on the product’s experience, too. Prioritize them and choose the most important ideas to start with. Not everything can be solved at once, so it’s better to choose up to three topics and start ideating the solution immediately. Start sketching up solutions or building quick prototypes so the theoretical findings will turn into real projects as soon as possible.
The customer journey diagram is basically a big table. The column of the table represent different phases or steps a customer goes through. These can be unique in every project, but most customer journeys contain three phases:
- Before the usage: What all happened before people started using the product? How do they find it? How do they learn about the topic and choose a solution? How do they get it?
- Using the product: Which main phases do they go through? Think about high-level goals here.
- After the usage: What happens when they are done? What do they do next? How do we follow-up? Will they tell their friends too?
In most cases, these three can break down into more phases to fit the given product. The number of steps is flexible, but we recommend fewer broad phases.
On the horizontal side, different rows each represent different aspects to examine the given phase. We can name three major groups here, too:
- Customer-related: They have pains, goals, feelings and thoughts, as well as a current process. We usually show these in separate rows on the top.
- Organization-related: These include activities for the given phase, the problems faced, the ideas and opportunities had, and features to develop. We display these on the bottom.
- Interactions: Between us and the customers, we list the touch points where we interact with the people in the middle.
Read about how customer journey (and all the other workshops) fit into the product development process in our e-book: Product Managers’ Guide to UX Design.
3. Product strategy workshop
From time to time you should stop, step back, and look at the bigger picture. The product strategy workshop can help summarize the current state of a product and collect the opportunities to utilize. Do this UX workshop with your team every two to four months, or as necessary.
The product strategy workshop aims at complex targets. First, it can help summarize all the important information collected so far about the product and the market. Then, it can help define long term goals and align them with the business strategy. Communicating these goals with the whole product team helps create a common understating and a framework for future collaboration among members.
- Preparation: Collect all the research information about the market (eg. competitors), users, pains and needs (interview results etc.), and the current product (analytics and user test data etc). Present this information to all participants.
- Brainstorm: Try to collect ideas and answer the 3 main questions: How can we solve users’ pains with our product? How can we stand out on the market? Where are the bottlenecks in the product’s metrics and how can we solve them?
- Statement: After you saw the big picture create a one-sentence strategic statement (goal). It should contain the problem, the solution the product will offer, the target audience and a vision where the business is going. See Tesla’s statement as an example: “In a world where air pollution is a serious issue and consumers care more about the environment, Tesla will be the first automaker to focus on electric cars by building a high-end roadster first for early adopters, then turn to the mass market.” Having a long term goal can help break it into more concrete mid-term and short-term goals later.
- Prioritize: When you have the strategic statement, you can prioritize the feature ideas you have. There are many methods you can use, such as impact-effort, KANO or feature matrix. Read more about these methods in our Product Design Book. The point is to have a clear list of steps to follow.
- Create a roadmap: A good product roadmap ensures that all elements serve the long-term goals. Break up the whole process into bigger and smaller themes.
- Use checkpoints: Define checkpoints during the design process when you can do a retrospective sum up (past) and re-evaluate the target (future). You can put a chekcpoint after the exploration or product discovery phase. You can also do a strategy workshop whenever you feel your goal is not aligned to customer needs, or you feel the team is drifting away from the original goal.
We use our UX Strategy Canvas, which helps to summarize research results and ideas.
On the left side of the canvas we collect information. See the summary of the product discovery here (pains and motivations), the AARRR funnel analysis and the competitor analysis. On the right side, we collect ideas about each finding on the left, and on the bottom we summarize the findings.
To summarize, a product strategy should contain a strategy statement or a main goal, a plan to get there and some checkpoints ont the way.
Conclusion: do the UX workshop that fits your current design phase
Summon the team together from time to time to get on the same page during the design process, whether in the exploration phase or working on an existing product. Persona, customer journey and product strategy workshops can help convey important information about the market, the users, the product and business goals to the whole team. They help ensure the members understand this information and develop a common understanding about goals. The UX workshops help develop frameworks for working together, which smooths out the whole design process.
There other workshops we haven’t discussed here. A look&feel discovery workshop for example can help your design team to establish a style guide or build the basics of a design system.
Have any experience or tips about UX workshops? Please, share them in the comments below.