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I'm looking for ideas for conducting a quick, valuable design workshop (max a few hours). Only people who are involved in building the related digital product will participate (including me, also part of the team).

The goal is to identify critical UX issues, mostly by looking at the UI, and improve the overall look and feel of the product in the future.

I'm aware of the limitations we have in evaluating product due to every-day contact and co-creation. I'm looking for exercise which helps us to see the product and its problems in a fresh way, break our mental models (is this even possible?). Bring out voices that are hidden every day, too. Any ideas, resources, case studies?

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    I suggest adding some details about how you plan to do the audit, and how it might be different working with an in-house team compared to the end-users (unless they are internal users). There are lots of starting points in similar questions: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/4630/… – Michael Lai Feb 9 at 22:56
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If you are thinking about doing a workshop with more people maybe you could use a miro board with screenshots of the screens you want to discuss.

Attaching comments (for instance: user feedback) to each screenshot could help identify critical UX issues.

As you mention you want to see the product in a fresh way I would also suggest having a look at the data of each screen:

  • Which are the most used screens?
  • Is there screens that are used a lot but only for a very short time? (This could indicate that the screen is used as a kind of "corridor" to access another screen with the desired functionality)
  • Are there any screens that are used very rarely?
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  • That's exactly what I was looking for. Mixed with looking for heuristics gaps, great exercise! – Iga Feb 12 at 12:43
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the easiest way to identify critical issues is to conduct a heuristic evaluation of your product, it can be done inhouse, a short article from the leader NN group on 10 principles of heuristic can be found at https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ten-usability-heuristics/

You could give each team member 1 or two principles of heuristics to test against and compile one report with valuable actionable insights.

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  • Very useful comment, the core of what I'm thinking is to do something simple, "refreshing" and fun for the team - it sounds exactly like what I'm looking for. – Iga Feb 10 at 9:13
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"The goal is to identify critical UX issues, mostly by looking at the UI, and improve the overall look and feel of the product in the future."

This sounds to me then as a case for Qualitative UX testing rather than UX audit. You could find couple of people that didn't worked on this product, and create them small assignment to test how clear design is. Then you can measure how successful are they in completing those, for what time, what do they think about experience etc..

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  • Crucial here is the team. I'm mostly looking for ideas how to do something fun together, with possibly valuable for product development output. Everything that can challenge the product (and the standards we are used to). – Iga Feb 10 at 9:33
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Whilst it probably won't tick the "fun" box, if you're looking primarily at the interface you could conduct an interface audit/inventory.

https://bradfrost.com/blog/post/interface-inventory/

The goal is to identify and document the various components used in the interface and then assess whether they are used consistently and effectively. E.g. Is the right component used, is it in the same place to deliver a predictable interface or does it shift about.

You could make this more fun by printing out pages and asking people to cut them up and organise them.

What's quite interesting about this kind of task is how you organise things as it can be done in different ways. Do you group all the buttons up because they are buttons? or do you group all the main CTA's up, whether they are images, buttons, links or something else?

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Acting as a UX consultancy for good results you should do: Heuristic Evaluation Expert Review maybe with User testing if possible.

Among these you can also combine component and pattern consistency for UI and flow patterns.

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