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Three super helpful UX workshop exercises you’ll love

Louise Howells   —   11 September 2017   —   Code & Drupal

Good user experience is integral to any project. Your user should be at the centre of every decision you make; the site will ultimately be used by them, after all. So, at the workshopping phase, what exercises can you try to ensure a brilliant end result? I’ve collected three of my favourite user experience workshop exercises for you here. There are countless great user experience exercises, but these three I return to again and again. Enjoy!

Exercise one: Persona creation

A persona is a representation of a user. It’s a great exercise to make your clients really think about their users, and what they want from the website, it’s also a good bit of fun! The personas you create are representations of the people who will, ultimately, be using your website. It’s a fun exercise to kick your website project off with, and helps the room to feel relaxed.

The exercise

To bring some energy into the room, I like to make a persona with the whole room. Start off by asking for one piece of information from each person, like the persona’s name, their lifestyle and even things like if they have a pet. It could also include the following:

  1. An image. You can draw one if you like, but give them a face.
  2. Some background detail. E.g they like cycling.
  3. Their age.
  4. Personality traits.
  5. IT competency.
  6. Their goals. What do they want to do on your website?

Once you’ve created one together, ask people to split into groups of two to four to create a few of their own and share with the group.

Once this character background is complete, you'll have a clearer picture of the user (or type of users) of your website and have some insight into how they might behave when they're using it.

Don’t just throw the personas in the back of the cupboard either. Mailchimp did a great job of turning these into pieces of art.

Exercise two: Design a reception 

Many people think they know what makes a good design. We’ve all seen designs come back with red pen across them and over editing doesn’t help; impacting budgets, deadlines and morale. Instead of asking participants to suggest design elements for the new website, which may be overwhelming, ask them to design what their organisation's reception area might look like instead. This keeps the focus on what’s really important.

The exercise

Design a reception room for a potential client who knows nothing about the company. It will need to communicate what the company does, the ethos and personality. Give teams of four up to 15 minutes to draw out on flip chart paper, or similar, the new reception area. Once they’ve finished, ask each group to present to each other. You’ll start to see how big the room is, what furniture they’ve placed and what colours they have painted the walls. It’s an inside shot of how they want the brand to look and how they want to be portrayed to the outside world.

Exercise three: 4-up


4-up is a useful exercise to start getting ideas down onto paper in the form of a wireframe. It’s a great exercise to do with clients for so many reasons.

  1. It gives people an opportunity to get involved in the site structure.
  2. It ensures everyone focuses on the functionality and priorities of the site, rather than the aesthetics.
  3. It demonstrates what’s a priority for the site and its users.
  4. it gives your clients an insight into the design process.

The exercise

Give each person one piece of paper with four boxes. Give them four minutes for the exercise. There’s no right or wrong here, it’s all about quantity not quality. Ask people to sketch a wireframe for a certain page and do it four different ways. It’s a great way to get priorities down on paper and understand what they perceive as the focus on different pages.

Once you’ve tried 4-up, try switching to 2-up, which is two minutes and two wireframes (for the same page still). People will start to refine their ideas and move away from things they don’t like. Follow this up with a group exercise (again four people) to make one wireframe between them, using the best bits from each other’s designs.

For some useful templates for this exercise, check out Sneakpeekit.

What exercises do you use in your user experience workshops?

Let us know @weareaccessmcr

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