UX Design Essentials Curriculum for Managers

8:30 am – 5:00 pm, registration at 8 am

Part 1: A business case for a great user experience

This section makes a business case for developing products with a great user experience. This is crucial because if you can’t make your case, you won’t get the funding and resources required to make great design happen. The bottom line is that good design sells, poor design costs.

Exercise:  A class discussion on why a great user experience is important from the participants’ personal point of view.

Part 2: The design process and the classic mistakes

This section presents an overview of the design process that focuses on the classic process mistakes that everyone tends to make, such as designing for yourself or everyone, focusing on features and technologies instead of users and their goals, and falling in love with your first design idea. The goal is to help you recognize these process mistakes and learn how to avoid them.

Exercise:  A class discussion on the state of your current design process: what is working, what is not working, and what is getting in the way.

Part 3: Why managing great design is so hard

This section presents the challenges of managing a design team that focuses on the classic UX management mistakes that everyone tends to make, such as assuming that your standard engineering processes work for UI design, not having a decision making framework (and therefore having to wrangle over every decision), and inadvertently encouraging your team to design for you instead of the customer.

Exercise:  A class discussion on why managing a UX design team is so hard.

Part 4: Understanding user-centered design

This section builds a user-centered decision-making framework with top scenarios (what your customers are going to do with your product) and personas (a concise model of who your customers are). You will then see how to use this framework for making good design decisions quickly and confidently—for the right reason. Learn why many teams often use these techniques ineffectively.

Exercise:  A class exercise on user-centered design to define your target users, their goals and tasks, and their context and environment.

Part 5: How to make it intuitive

While everyone wants their UIs to be intuitive, nobody really knows what this means. Learn the attributes of an intuitive UI so that you can help your team achieve this all-important design objective. Learn that intuitive UIs communicate effectively and that focusing on effective communication naturally makes UIs intuitive and user focused.

Exercise 1:  A class exercise to evaluate the intuitiveness of a design by evaluating how well it communicates.

Exercise 2: A class design review to evaluate a UI (provided by customer) for intuitiveness.

Part 6: How to make it simple

While everyone wants their UIs to be simple, people often confuse simplicity with designs that are simplistic or lack power and capability. Learn the attributes of a simple UI so that you can help your team achieve this all-important design objective. Most importantly, understand the thinking that leads to complexity in the first place—most complexity happens because someone is absolutely convinced that it needs to be there.

Exercise:  A class exercise to simplify a UI by designing an iPhone version.

Part 7: Effective prototyping

This section presents the 7 rules for effective prototyping and demonstrates ineffective prototyping with a real example. Effective prototyping is crucial for communicating design ideas within your team and to your customers efficiently, yet many teams don’t prototype effectively.

Exercise:  A class discussion to evaluate the effectiveness of your prototyping process by applying the 7 rules for effective prototyping.

Part 8: Design reviews: how to give effective feedback

This section presents the rules for effective design reviews to make design reviews more efficient and productive. The key is to use design reviews to find potential problems, so no defending, designing, or debating.  Effective feedback the lifeblood of an effective design team, so this section presents techniques for providing specific, actionable, helpful feedback. Learn how to use scenarios to drive design reviews to evaluate designs from the customer’s point of view instead of focusing on relatively unimportant details.

Exercise:  A class design review of a UI (provided by customer) applying the rules for effective design reviews.

Part 9: Fostering a great design culture

Ultimately, you ship your culture—the products your team creates are an embodiment of your team’s culture. This section presents models for different design team cultures, and gives tips for improving your team’s design culture while fitting within it. While Apple is currently the most influential company in UX design, this section explains why Apple (and Steve Jobs) are models you probably shouldn’t copy.

Exercise: A class discussion to evaluate your team’s design culture.

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