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.)

6 Answers 6


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.


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.


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: http://www.gogamestorm.com/ (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: http://www.roberthempsall.co.uk/uk-train-ticket-redesign/

I will have a further think about ready made examples.


I think the 3 most important think that you should emphasize from UX to begginers are:

  • Think about your users first
  • Iterate on prototype (instead of planning in detail)
  • Test ideas with real users

So I think you should create a game that mimic these three thins:

  1. Split them up into smaller groups. Give every group a wide topic. (like eating out, commuting, etc.)
  2. Each group has to interview 2-3 persons from other groups and ask them about the challenges in the topic.
  3. The group should brainstorm solution ideas (fetures)
  4. Each group draws down 1-2 screens from their imagined product.
  5. Test the paper prototypes with people from other groups

This needs a bit more time, around 3-4 hours, but participans will have quite good sense about what UX is about.

You can also decide to focus on just one area. I wrote a blogpost about 3 specific workshop types here: 3 Useful UX Workshops to Get Your Team on the Same Page

If your audience work together and they have a common understanding of their product, it might be better to run one of these 3 workshops with them, so they can use the results when they go back to work.


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.


You could say we're in the beginning stages of our application striving for an MVE experience. We're constantly measuring each feature sprint with what is the solution that helps the customer solve the business problem vs. what would the "smart" users want. Our team is full of smart users but we're not the audience.

Mixed into the situation, we have a deadline to get customers over from our current platform over to our new platform. Okay, that's the context for this game.

The game is called a Bridge Too Far. It helps you suss out your team's thoughts and ideas of what would be MVE vs what is the ideal solution money, time and resources aside.

Introduce one or two of your personas. Refer to them by name. If possible provide actual customer feedback based. Also introduce the design pattern. Perhaps it's something your team is familiar but often look to you as a UX/UI designer to solve. This is a great opportunity to impart your team leadership skills.

Next, provide a sketch or wireframe of the very basic UI elements and a set of drawing materials.

With a timer set for 10 minutes ask the group to add in UI features and tricks that are either REALLY nice, expensive or useless. These are a bridge too far features. Feel free to let your team have fun with this. Trust me, the smart ones will go for MVE++ and take it seriously. Loosen them up a little.

Finally, go around the room and have each team member talk about what their Bridge Too Far and explain why they think this is feature bloat.

The results. One, you'll be able to gauge the team's individual and group response and force them to out their solution as expected or not. Two, you might discover what you think is bloat is actually worth testing and bringing to the sprint. Three, you'll challenge your team to think outside of the norm on a particular design pattern.

Let me know if it worked for you.

Don't forget to validate your new feature with real audience members.

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