Design Jam London
Last weekend I attended a one day UX-fest called Design Jam London #3.
It was brought to my attention by my colleague Jae Lee, here at Forward, and without his help I wouldn’t have been able to bag a ticket.
There were only 50 tickets available, and as they were free, there were a lot of people keen to get hold on one - thankfully Jae’s fast mouse-work managed to secure me one.
I’ve not been to a workshop / hackday type day before, so entered the event wondering what would happen, what type of people I’d meet, and more importantly what could I contribute & learn.
The event was held at the City University building just off Northampton Square, near London, which was thankfully a nice sunny 15 minute stroll from my apartment.
We had essentially 7 hours or so to take a design challenge and come up with some kind of prototype or at least wireframes of a product.
We assigned ourselves into groups based on our skillset, and I found myself in team 3.
We came up with the team name very quickly - Steve said as we were team 3 with 4 people, it was like the time signature for a waltz: 3/4 - so from that point we were Team Waltz.
This pretty much turned out to be the norm for us for the rest of the day, as we were able to get past the small details and get in to the big issues & work on the brief pretty quickly.
We all brought different skills to the table, with development, design, and UX all represented in pretty equal measures.
The teams were encouraged to keep track of what they were doing on tumblr blogs. I found this to be a great way of documenting the process, so I tried to write out the different phases we covered during the day.
Rather than repeating myself and typing out everything we did on the day, here’s the tumblr blog for our team:
At the end of the day we held presentations to show what we had all managed to put together in the time allowed, using the tumblrs (thank goodness I’d been typing for most of the day) and any sketches we needed.
I was happy to present our teams work as I was really proud of what we’d achieved, and everyone else was more than happy to let me!
What I learned
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve not done any full time UX work in nearly 2 years, but found to my relief that a lot of the techniques I’ve been using for a many years before are still valid.
In the time allotted to the problem we were acutely aware that some really useful UX techniques were impractical.
We really didn’t have time to do any user research, and as such didn’t feel we could build valid personas to base our work on (hence the very rough generic persona we created).
We also didn’t really have any time to do any paper prototyping, or any user testing of our ideas, relying only on the good balance of people in our group.
However, even though there were a lot of restrictions on what techniques we were able to use, the team worked really well together, and it reinforced how much I enjoy working in a team to resolve a complex problem.
It was great to see what the other teams were able to achieve in the time too - and to see the various techniques employed to get to the final result. You can read the other teams tumblrs: Team 1, Team 2, Team 4, Team 5, Team 6, Team 7, Team 8, Team 9 & Team 10.
I’d definitely do another one of these UX days, and have now started to look into other UX events that are going on. I’ve missed the design and user experience part of my work as I’ve been focussing only on front end development for the past 18 months.
Design Jam relit the fire for me!