Building UX Buy-In With Your Team

Recently I took an intensive part-time ten week programme at General Assembly (Sydney), focusing on User Experience Design. This was a way for me to up-skill and stay up-to-date on the latest UX methods. I finished with a sense of triumph, having learned so many things, and completing a full project and case study.

One of the most important skills I learned during the ten weeks was how UX is essential to the design process, especially when it comes to complex digital products. It made me realise how tantamount it is to have UX buy-in from the whole team that you collaborate with, rather than just the design team.

Even with the huge growth of design thinking, Lean UX, and research as part of design in recent years, it can be a challenge to bring everyone onboard with UX and have it not be treated simply as another buzzword.

At work, our core technology team consists of developers, designers and project managers. To build buy-in for UX from my amazingly receptive team members, I used the approach of an interactive workshop.

Read below for my experience, and how you can design your own UX workshop for your team.

Intro to UX: Workshop Design

The workshop I conducted was designed as a fun, interactive one-hour “lunch & learn” session, as part of a series of internal presentations that our team does on a fortnightly basis.

Our team members want to know how UX is relevant to their jobs. So focus on your team’s roles and their work processes.

The important part was to not get too bogged down with details of UX processes without making it relevant to how UX can help us all internally, and give our clients the best end product for their needs. As UX designers, we get super excited with detailed discussions of all the cool research methods, and how we can utilise them, etc etc, but at the end of the day, our team members want to know how UX is relevant to their jobs. So focus on your team’s roles and their work processes.

I broke down the workshop into four main sections:

  1. Basic introduction to UX Design (20 minutes)
  2. Quick interactive activity to apply basic UX principles (25 minutes)
  3. Closing discussion on what we learned through the activity, and how UX is helpful for our team (10 minutes)
  4. Q&A (5 minutes)
Presentation slide of the contents page. Keep the content and agenda for the workshop simple.

1. Basic Introduction to UX Design (20 minutes)

The content of this can vary based on your own team, the overall company structure, and how best you envision incorporating UX into your design process.

For my team, I found it most suitable to start off with a quick discussion on the Double Diamond of design, and the basic design process. This helped ease everyone into the discussion, as it was the most common ground for our internal design process.

I kept it interactive, by asking my team members what they think UX design is, and then responding to the discussion.

I then went through 2 quick examples of UX case studies:

  1. Frog Design’s redesign of Lufthansa’s brand experience, especially at the airport check-in kiosks [+]
  2. Liz Wells’ case study of the Lynching in America project’s experience design, with her work as the UX Designer with the team in Stink Studios, for Google Brand Studios & Equal Justice Initiative [+]

The quick examples helped drive the point home that UX design can (and does) extend beyond digital experiences, and that UX is not interface design or visual design, which is a common misconception — albeit, most UX designers I know (including myself) do shift seamlessly between UX, UI, and VD according to team and client needs.

I also went into an in-depth case study, using my own project I produced during my course as an example. I discussed the process I had followed, the basics of conducting user research, affinity mapping, user personas, competitor audit, ideation/sketching, rapid prototyping, user testing (using paper prototypes), user flow, information architecture, wireframing, and high fidelity prototypes.

Phew! That sounds like a lot of things to discuss, but the most intuitive way to do this with your team is to go through an example project. Find one that will be most relevant to your team. You can even take a past project, or a project your team is currently working on, and turn it into a quick UX case study.

Keep in mind that you’re trying to bring your team onboard. So you want to give a high-level overview, so everyone is on the same page.

Presentation slide, showing the design process used in the example UX case study.

2. Interactive Activity (25 minutes)

For this activity I chose the prompt “Redesign the office lunch time experience”. It was a prompt that was simple, easy to interpret, understandable for everyone in the team, and something that could yield quick results within the short period of time allocated for the activity.

For your workshop, choose a task that would be most understandable for your team. It’s always fun to go through a rapid UX idea generation process for an office experience. Try not to solve an actual project problem here, as you want your team to get a fresh perspective on a fun new task.

During the activity, I made sure to prompt my team members to keep the UX process in mind. To keep things going, I highlighted conducting quick research by interviewing each other, and writing all insights on sticky notes.

Then we did a quick affinity mapping session, and everyone brainstormed ideas to solve the most common issues that came up.

Starting off the interactive activity with a simple prompt.

During the ideation phase, make sure to encourage everyone to sketch their ideas out on paper. Many people get intimidated at the thought of sketching. It’s always important to remind your team that all ideas are welcome, and you don’t need artistic or perfect sketches. Sketching is to communicate ideas, not produce works of fine art.

Sketching is to communicate ideas, not produce works of fine art.

For the sake of time, we didn’t do iterations of prototyping/testing, but there is definitely room to do this if you want to expand this section to 45 minutes for your workshop.

Quickly affinity mapping the ideas

3. Closing Discussion (10 minutes)

We closed the discussion with everyone presenting what they learned through the activity. My team came out of the activity very enthusiastic about the process — everyone managed to find a solution to the problem of finding a place to eat during lunch time!

The most common takeaway was that working together as a team can produce really creative and out-of-the-box ideas that perhaps we would not come up with as individuals.

I then discussed how the UX design process can really enhance our current web design process. For your own workshop, you might highlight different points that are relevant to your organisation and team. Here were the points that were most relevant to our team:

  • More efficient design process
  • Faster to production
  • Cohesion between designers + developers + project managers
  • Value to clients
  • Evidence-based design process, hence it is easier to communicate to clients why certain design decisions were made
  • Beneficial to end users

4. Q&A (5 minutes)

In the Q&A section, encourage your team to ask any questions that they have, and answer those questions fully. It is important that you encourage your team members to approach you with any queries that they might have. Team work is essential when it comes to incorporating new processes in how you do things. Feel free to extend the Q&A beyond the allotted 5 minutes if needed.

Close the workshop by making sure that you let everyone know that they can approach you anytime for more details, or any questions.

Keep Gauging How Your Team Feels

The quick workshop will definitely get you started with an enthusiastic team response, with everyone coming away with a basic understanding of the value of UX. But don’t think that all your work is done!

You need to consistently gauge how your team feels about the process. The best way to do this is to slowly incorporate the process into relevant projects where it will be helpful to clients. State where the process can be helpful in solving stubborn problems that your team might be facing on any particular project.

Remember, you will get buy-in if your team sees this as a valuable asset to current processes, and an enhancement to their job. You want to make things more efficient and easier for your team.

Hi there, thanks for reading! I am a designer based in Sydney, enthusiastic about research-based design and accessibility for digital products. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I am always up for discussions on any topic, cool projects to collaborate on, and forming new connections.

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UX Designer based in Sydney, with a love for exploring the city, cafes and quaint bookshops. I sometimes dabble in creative writing. All opinions are my own.

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Shahneela Shaukat

Shahneela Shaukat

UX Designer based in Sydney, with a love for exploring the city, cafes and quaint bookshops. I sometimes dabble in creative writing. All opinions are my own.

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