5 UX Workshop Activities

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In 7 UX Workshop Activities we outlined exercises that could be used by UX instructors or in-house UX teams to re-visit the basics and identify ways to level up the team’s UX skills. We continue this theme here with a description of 5 UX workshop activities to teach or refine the skills UX practitioners use in their daily work.

UX Workshop Activities

Activity #1: Sketch Based on Requirements

Business and technical requirements are essential for any site, app, or product design. Essential, but not sufficient, meaning that understanding the user’s needs is essential. This short, sketching exercise literally illustrates the point.

  1. Display the following scenario: You are a designer on a product team and have been giving the following requirements:
  • One metal frame
  • Four wheels
  • Seating for two to four people
  1. Ask students to sketch a design based on these requirements.
  2. After ten minutes, ask a few students to share their sketch.
    UI UX Training students have drawn wagons, dune buggies, cars, and trucks.


car truck

The point, of course, is to remind students that a design based solely on business and technical requirements is unlikely to meet users’ needs.

Activity #2: Identify Research Artifacts

Research artifacts are usually discovered during contextual inquiry. These items include devices, notepads, forms, and documents, anything your target audience uses on a regular basis. When conducting contextual inquiry, researchers should pay close attention to tips, tricks, techniques, or workarounds that users leverage to complete tasks and solve problems. Examples include post-it notes, cheat sheets, checklists, alarms, and reminders. These workarounds are important because they often point to an unnecessarily complex procedure or even a broader system problem.

  1. Display the following scenario: You are one of three UX researcher who has just returned from a series of contextual inquiries during which you observed people with diabetes using a glucose meters at home. The photos all of you took include:
  • A hard copy of instructions for using the blood glucose meter
  • A grocery shopping list posted on the refrigerator.
  • A slip of paper posted to the refrigerator with a reminder to buy more test strips for the blood glucose meter.
  • A copy of the warranty for the glucose meter.
  • The post-it in the person’s home office with the number for an on-call nurse.
  • A shortcut on the laptop desktop to a youtube video about how to use the blood glucose meter.
  1. Ask students to identify which of these items are artifacts, and which are not.
    Hint: The warranty and grocery list are not research artifacts because they are not directly relevant to using the glucose meter or monitoring health as it relates to the person’s diabetes.

Activity #3: Information Architecture (I/A) Exercise

The proliferation of products and mobile apps has placed a necessary emphasis on task flows and screen flows. Even in apps, however, I/A is often important because users might need to navigate to a different section of the app to find specific information or to start with a different task and thus a different flow.

I/A, of course, is essential to a usable and useful web site. Keep this exercise simple.

  1. Divide students into groups of three or four.
  2. Assign each group a different site. Make sure to have a list of sites ready before class begins.
  3. Give them 30 to 45 minutes to examine the site and revise the I/A to make it more usable.
  4. Spend 15 to 20 minutes discussing each group’s revised I/A and the reasoning behind it.

Activity #4: Identify Layout Type

This exercise is useful for those new to UX or seasoned designers with limited mobile design experience. In both cases, the idea is to get workshop participants to think about which layouts work best for certain personas, scenarios, and task flows.

  1. Divide students into groups of three or four.
  2. Display the three images shown below with a brief caption or explanation of the app’s purpose.
  3. List three mobile layout types on whiteboard.
  4. Ask students assign one layout to each image
  5. Ask each group to discuss why they think the designer used the layout for each app.
  6. Devote 10 to 15 minutes to discussion to help students discuss the advantages and disadvantages to various layouts, especially as these layouts relate to their company’s products. For example, a card layout might work well for a basic e-commerce site featuring food. A long scroll might be better for for a social media app.

ux-workshop-activities-mobile-card ux-workshop-activities-long-scroll  ux-workshop-activities-bento-box design

Activity #5: Revise Web Copy

Whether teaching clients or your own team, conveying the importance of quality copy is critical. While it’s common knowledge that users spend mere seconds deciding if they will remain on a site to explore or move on, not everyone is aware of the role copy plays in this decision.

Guiding students through a writing exercise is an effective way to show them the importance of devoting time to crafting quality copy.

  1. Divide students into groups of three or four.
  2. Distribute a sheet of paper with the original copy (shown below)
  3. Ask each group to spend 10 minutes revising the copy for brevity and clarity.
  4. Devote 10 to minutes to discussing each group’s reaction to the original copy and their revisions.

The original copy below is from the house hunters site. A suggested revision follows.

Original copy—In this exclusive video series, Eliot Glazer — LA-based TV writer, executive story editor for the hit series New Girl and contributor to Comedy Central and Funny or Die — sits down with episodes of HGTV’s House Hunters and House Hunters International, providing color commentary and no-holds-barred critiques.

Suggested revision—In this video series, LA-based TV writer Eliot Glazer provides colorful critiques of several episodes from both HGTV House Hunters and House Hunters International.

Conclusion: The Power of UX Workshop Activities

Certainly, many UXers are talented artists, and we should welcome this talent especially when it comes to sophisticated visual design. At the same time, you need not be an accomplished graphic designer to sketch stakeholder requirements, conduct UX research, perform analysis, and draw preliminary layouts based on well-researched user needs. Try the exercises in this post to refine your UX skills.

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