As the lead UX Consultant at Code, it's really important for me to share the things that we're passionate about, with the next generation of people in our industry, along with what we've learned from the 16 years of successes (and some failures) at Code.
So, at the invitation of Code's friend Richard Eskins at Manchester Metropolitan University, Colin Preston (our Senior Creative Lead) and I talked to final year Information & Communications students studying the User Experience Design unit.
Presenting Code's UX design philosophy
I began by presenting Code's UX design philosophy and method, followed by Colin who showed how this is applied to design sprints (which is just one of a group of different UX design processes we can run with our clients). We spent some time with groups of students, talking about their project work -- which is to create an app to solve a problem that the groups are defining themselves. These ranged from creating an in-bus app experience for commuters, finding events on a night out, to completely redesigning LinkedIn -- and everything in-between.
The key messages
There were a few key messages we wanted the students to take away from the session:
Unless they really get under the skin of the problem they are setting out to solve, they'll never come up with the right solution. There's no point rushing ahead with user journeys and interface design, if you don't know who's going to use the product and how it's going to provide ROI.
The most important part of creating a product, is gathering evidence that it will be a success. This is done by researching the problem with stakeholders and potential users, to test the solution with real likely customers (all the way through the design process). To do this, you need to listen to what people say and observe what people actually do (these might not be the same).
Finally... it's easy to get hung-up on process. The important thing isn't to tick off every step in a process in every project, but to make sure that you are using the right kinds of tools and keeping the correct mindset, all the way through a project.
At Code we intentionally have different processes for different kinds of challenges and clients and we always try to stay flexible enough to work in other ways when needed. This is always underpinned by a strong UX design philosophy and set of rules.
The insightful group discussions and questions at the end of the presentation, showed that there are some future digital superstars lurking in the course. It was great spending time with a group of engaged and talented students - I'm sure we'll see one or two through the doors of Code in a couple of years' time!