Sprint Lead: Ina

Hello from the UXMentor.me Project 2 team!

It’s the end of Sprint 3 and it was another jam-packed sprint with some big deliverables. It’s been a challenging one but we’ve learnt a lot from the experience!

What were our goals for this sprint?

This sprint our main focus was finishing user interviews, synthesising user interview findings, analysis and collating the data from all the user research we have been doing last sprint and presenting our findings. One of the big deliverables this sprint was presenting our research findings to our client, the mentors.

The second part of the sprint and the other deliverable of this sprint was the designing of concepts and propositions based on the findings we found through the discovery phase.

What was our approach?

Synthesizing user interview findings

Project 2 - Sprint 3 - Show and tell - Synthesising
Synthesising findings
Project 2 - Sprint 3 - Show and tell - Thematic Analysis
Thematic Analysis

A majority of this sprint was dedicated to analyzing and synthesizing the data from the user interviews. We combined our notes from the user interview onto google sheet based on each questions. These then got transposed into sticky notes using Real Time board. This was a quite time-consuming task due to the amount of information we gathered from the user interviews.

We then individually grouped the findings into themes and created an affinity diagram. This helped us to see the common themes visible across the users we interviewed and what common topics were raised.

“It is very interesting put all the concepts, ideas and findings we found in each interview and research process onto the same board and start to realize about possible patterns and strengths”

Laura

Reporting user research findings

Our next task was to present our research findings to the client. This was a big deliverable as it will be the basis of our next phase, designing concepts. We presented our research findings using a powerpoint deck split into the three research methods used in discovery phase. We used a mix of infographics and text to communicate the common themes, issues and topics that were found across the data gathered.

Project 2 - Sprint 3 - Show and tell - Methods

Above was a summary of our user research methods. We analysed frequently asked questions from 8 different sources (forums, slack channels, facebook groups, etc), did a competitor audit analysis of 11 different sources and conducted 10 one-on-one user interviews. We then worked at looking common themes across these three different areas.

“During our analysis of the user interviews, it was interesting to see overlap with multiple participants.  We spent time really sifting through all the data we collected to identify what the needs of our population are. I’m excited about the next step, which is to begin concepting ways to support the need.”

Xochitl

Documenting user needs

After presenting the findings to the client, a feedback received was the requirement to highlight our user needs. As recommended by the client, we worked on extracting the user needs from our research findings and grouped them into themes. We used Trello as a tool to document these user needs.

Design concepts and propositions

User needs mapping

At the second half of the sprint we commenced designing concepts and propositions to address the problem statement – “How might we… create practical content to help those delivering user-centred design under real-world constraints?”. We took an approach of individually creating concepts and then getting together to draw common themes or significant differences from our concepts and decide on which options to proceed with user testing.

What did we discover in our research?

Our findings indicated some gaps in current resources and tools and what was taught in courses/bootcamps. Some of these include:

  • Hard to find information on Slack channels and forums due to significant amount of contents
  • Lack of UX Research dedicated resources
  • Lack of mid-level resources
  • Lack of demonstration of practical application
  • UX courses don’t teach you about soft skills required in real-world situations such as how to advocate for UX, getting buy-in from stakeholders.

Findings indicate there are lots of tools and resources available online through various channels, however, you have to combine several of these tools to provide you with the answers or resources to assist UX professionals.

You have to fight for the users and yourself (as the UX designer). It’s a skill you have to learn and not taught (in course)

Research participant

There is no one central place where people turn to for guidance or answers in helping them face challenges in their role.

What challenges did you face?

  • Working out approaches to synthesize and analyze the research findings
  • Finding the best way to present user research findings
  • Finding times for video-conferencing to discuss project
  • Making sure our deliverables were delivered on time
  • Balancing the effort across all team members
  • Having one resource down
  • Responding to changing priorities

As this was quite an intense sprint jam-packed with deliverables, we definitely encountered some challenges. We had to work out different approaches on how to synthesize and analyse our findings and then find the best way to present them without overloading the client with too much information.

Another challenge that we kept facing was the time zone differences and finding time to meet with each other on video conference. Given I am in Australia, I was always 11 hours (or more) ahead of the other team members. This also made it difficult for submitting our deliverables submitted on time as some of the action items were posted at UK time, which is usually during my bedtime.

In addition, we had one resource down for most of this sprint so there was a challenge in ensuring that the effort was balanced across all team members.

We also had to respond to changing priorities. A couple of curve balls were thrown at us this sprint which required us to respond accordingly and adjust our plans and deliverables.

The biggest curve ball thrown at us was that the project is being cut short and will end after sprint 4 instead on the original 5 sprints. This meant we had to respond with an updated plan of what we would be able to deliver at the end of sprint 4 and what compromises had to be made

What did we learn?

Through dealing with these challenges, we certainly learned a few lessons.

Raise issues early, provide alternative solutions and be flexible in response to changing priorities

As we all had full-time jobs and this sprint was jam-packed with big deliverables, I learnt that we needed to raise issues early and notify the client when we were not able to meet deadlines.

We were thrown two curve balls this sprint and this taught us that we needed to be flexible in response to changing priorities. One of the curve balls was the project budget had been cut which meant the project was ending after sprint 4 instead of the planned five sprints. This required us to re-plan our deliverables and timelines to ensure that we are able to provide the final output to the client by the end of sprint 4.

How to set client’s expectations

We’ve learnt that we need to ensure when we respond to the client’s requests, whether it’s providing a deliverable or responding to a curve ball, we needed to ensure we set the right expectations so that there are no surprises to the client when it comes to delivering the final product.

Including our goals, objectives and highlighting user needs in presenting the findings

As most of us are new to UX, we are continuously learning and we have learnt a lot from the feedback received by the client (our mentors). We learnt that there are improvements needed in presenting our research findings in that our goals and objectives should be reiterated and tied back to the findings. The other important thing was to highlight and document the user needs as we will use this to form the basis of concept designs in our next sprint.

There is a real need for practical resources for UX professionals new in their role.

“It’s amazing the work this can produce even when we are down a resource. Everyone has been wonderful about stepping up. It was also fascinating to see how many of the user needs we uncovered echoed my own needs as a UX professional.”

Audra

Being open to feedback and other point of views.

It’s important that feedback, both positive and negative should be considered. Being open to feedback help us grow and be better.

Are there any tips you would like to share?

Communication is key. This was what worked well this sprint as we had regular catch up calls with all team members, even if it was only a quick one.

Stay in tune in the next two weeks to hear about the last leg of journey and the end of the project.

Interested in taking part in our next project?

Learn about how you can get involved with our next UXmentor.me project.

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Chris Mears

Chris is co-founder of UXmentor.me. He has worked with clients such as the UK government, Just Eat & Which? with a focus on service design and transformation.