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I'm looking for a real world example of UX which can be used in a short workshop I'm running. I was hoping to find some sort of game where I could split the teams into small groups, give them a time limit to perform some simple tasks, then show the results.

My audience is mainly people who know very little at all about UX. Does anyone know of a simple, real world usability problem which can be described to the audience so they can think in a way related to UX principals? Ideally, I'd like to get them working in teams to highlight the need for collaborative thinking.

All ideas welcome. (Sorry if this question is a bit outside the norm.)

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The game you choose depends completely on your intention with the course.

  • What do you want your audience to remember in 3 months?
  • What is the single most important thing you want to share about UX?

I would go for this "game":

  1. Create groups of 3-4 persons
  2. Give them accesories to create paper mockups (paper, pencils, colour pens, siccors, post-its, etc)
  3. Let them create a mockup of some simple task. Eg. registration form, "social network"-ish UI, vote for US president, donate money for some FOSS-project. You don't need to keep these task "down to earth". Why not create the notification systems for Curiosity - the one that kicks in when Curiosity discovers life at Mars?
  4. Run a couple of user-tests on some of the mockups. You should be the test-user yourself. That way you wont put any of your audience in an awkward situation, and you can "play dumb" to show a few classical test-situations.


  • Since everybody started directly on the design phase, you could point out that everyone made a big mistake. They didn't "analyze" first. Every mockup will probably fail if the main audience are blind users ;-) Emphasize the importance of the work in the early phases.
  • Show the power of mockups and the importance of this in iterative work.
  • The user is not like you. This is perhaps the most important point. Don't believe that you know the user. Don't believe that you can think like the user. The best way to experience this is to watch user do mistakes with your software.

It is very important that this is well prepared and well organized. Prepare as much as possible. Have a clear time frame for each step, and test if this time frame is ok (not too tight and not too loose). Be clear about the issues you want to point out in the summary.

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I went to a UX 101 seminar way back in the day where people were grouped together and asked to redesign an experience (eg - visiting the DMV, mailing a letter, etc.), rather than just a UI element or component. They were asked to break down the process into steps, and then redesign those steps in a better way. This was very effective for two reasons:

1 - It helped to drive home the point that User Experience is about more than just UI and functionality, so it helped broadly define "UX" to a group of people with various levels of technical experience.

2 - It allowed people to better internalize and relate to the idea of UX because they chose real-world examples based on their own poor experiences.

It's important to help people identify that UX is the composite of many factors, and this exercise was the facilitator's way of showing that.

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I cant think of any specific scenarios off the top of my head, but there are examples of lots of games that may help you during the process here: (There is a book and an iPhone app I believe).

If looking for real world (as opposed to digital based) examples you could give them tasks to design various appliances and other every day objects. One example I like here is the train ticket redesign:

I will have a further think about ready made examples.

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Take three 'volunteers' and give each a very simple written persona. They then play the part of that user. Split the others into small groups and give them a simple design challenge. Ask them to design an inclusive solution that meets the needs of the three different 'users'. The three users then judge the proposals.

Depending on your audience, you might find it easier if you ask them to design a physical product, rather than a website or app.

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