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    UX Intensive 2009 - an adaptive path through the UX forest

    After a few days to rest and reflect a bit here I continue to discover more and more things that I appreciate about Adaptive Path's UX Intensive in SF last week. I attended to give myself a deadline for the new brand launch, a place to talk shop, and I must admit, as my own personal "space camp" - so I could wander around in all that geeky UX minutia that's normally relegated to the "in a perfect world with plenty of money" category. And of course there were tons of collaborative activities, foamcore and exacto knives ;-). How much more geeky summer camp can you get?

    As I tweeted one of my favorite moments was coming up to the welcome table on my first day and seeing this really awesome 4-way blue rubberband wrapped around my books. It's funny how these details are what really communicate in experiences.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - Design Research Day (instructor: Paula Wellings)
    Paula is a type of instructor that you don't normally get to interact with - wildly smart, with a strong capacity for direction AND waiting a person out. With an obvious fascination for the deeper psychological and geeky display side of the user research process, she could have lost us in the weeds, but she also presented the concepts in a clear and fun way.

    Paula started the day with a great analogy about how design and research are a bit like peanut butter and chocolate being mixed in together. She showed a clip from the original Star Trek series in which Spock explains the Prime Directive - observe and do not change the cultures that you interact with - a scientific/research-centric position. And then she showed her own set of design directives that highlight the nature of design to change the world. So, design research, logically :D, is a chocolate peanut butter cup of UX melding. Yum, my favorite!

    Then we headed into the W5 (who, what, where, when, why) of design research. The rest of the day was moving through a great set of collaborative exercises from choosing a juicy design question for the Hotel Ganache use case, picking and running a method to obtain data from users, sorting that data and finally delivering it as a relevant data story that ultimately informs and shifts the design plan. Overall, a great overview of a design research process - and amazing what was packed into the day. My only change - skipping the entire first "what it is" and jumping right in to the activities so Paula would have more time to help us focus and redirect our efforts in the exercises.

    Thursday, June 18, 2009 - Interaction Design (Andrew Crow)
    Definitely closest to my day-to-day work, this workshop covered some of the process that you would see as you design products and services that meet the needs of your users. Deeply collaborative, this was a day that challenged the groups of near strangers to adapt to the various skills and communication strategies at the table. The results were stunning and definitely an encourage to me to keep trying and incorporating new process into my own work.

    I really appreciated the flow of this day. Andrew moved us nicely through informational periods and then tossed us into very clearly defined exercises; doing good follow-ups to help us tweak the output. Making conceptual models of a check-in experience, allowed us to collect data through an interview and then get it up into a graph that showed satisfaction over time at Hotel Ganache. Then we moved into ideation and collaborative brainstorming by throwing out ideas on sticky notes for a check-in kiosk and then grouping them. Then we developed design criteria - catchy phrases that help the team choose and refine their ideas. Then a really fun collaborative exercise to design a elevator control panel - the only catch that every 10 minutes a big new design constraint was put into place. Finally, we did some physical prototyping for a remote control.


    I got to make a physical prototype out of foamcore. Remedial art but infinitely satisfying as I tend toward work with computer models and rarely get a chance to break out the exacto knife. Perhaps I should rethink that. Process is for me - and it might be fun to shake it up for myself and my clients.

    Lol, so clients beware, much as I am after I visit Pixar and want to do some acting-out exercises, we may start throwing in more collaborative hands-on. I'll bring the sticky notes and pens. You bring your amazing knowledge-base, creativity and sense-of-humor - it'll be awesome :D.

    Thanks to the entire staff and UX Intensive SF team. You really did give us a fun and interactive ride on that adaptive path through the UX forest!

    See more photos flickr #uxisf2009, ux intensive 2009 (included Berlin and SF) and twitter #uxintensive

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