Why UX Workshops are Essential to a Project Kick-off

Kicking off a new project, whether it’s for an app, software development, or web development, can feel daunting…but it doesn’t have to.

UX workshops are a great way to give everyone involved with the project a clear understanding of the starting point, the desired outcome, and a structure of how you’ll get from a to b. They’re the perfect opportunity for both the client and the digital design agency to get to know the project, the market, and each other.

Not only does this help formulate a project plan enabling you to set milestones and get everyone on the same page, but it can also help save time, cut costs, optimise your time together, and generate better results.

So, a UX workshop at project kick-off is by no means a first date, it’s more like date number two or three. You know a bit about each other already and there’s definitely a spark there, now it’s time to delve deeper and develop the relationship! 

What is a UX workshop?

So hang on a minute. If a UX workshop is a group of people getting together to discuss a project, that’s just a meeting, isn’t it? Well, the important difference here is that a UX workshop has a set goal with a desired outcome. And the keyword is ‘workshop’.

It’s a coming together of minds (such as clients, colleagues, and users) to collaborate on a single topic. The workshops are used to gather data, solve problems, generate ideas, and identify the best solutions. We all know how hard it can be to get the key project stakeholders together in one place (be it physically or on Zoom). The structure of a UX workshop lets you get the most from your limited time together.

Why UX workshops are essential

Perhaps the most important element of UX workshops is the letter U. They help everyone view the project through the lens of the user. That’s because the key focus of these workshops is to put the user first which helps build empathy for them by giving everyone a common understanding of their needs and behaviours, their journey through your product, and how they interact with it. 

If user research – such as tester feedback or interviews – has been undertaken, a UX workshop allows key stakeholders to join forces to review this data and collectively interpret how it should shape the project focus and outcomes. Want to learn more about the basics of UX? Then click here

Let’s take a look at some of the other benefits of UX workshops.

Define project objectives

What’s the purpose of the project? How does the client define success? UX workshops, particularly at the kick-off stage, allow stakeholders to lay their cards on the table with regards their expectations for the project. The solution can then be designed so it is in line with the client’s objectives and goals, whilst also taking into account any potential constraints or roadblocks. 

Stakeholder buy-in

There’s only so much you can glean about what a client really wants from emails and phone calls. Nothing beats a face-to-face workshop for outlining what they see as the purpose of the project and what a successful outcome would look like to them. By allowing everyone to be fully involved from day dot, UX workshops ensure everyone feels part of the team effort and more engaged. 

New perspectives

The collaborative nature of UX workshops means you’re bringing together key stakeholders from both the agency and the client side. As a result, the room will be a creative buzz of designers, developers, product managers, marketeers, salespeople, and even CEOs. That’s a lot of different skill sets. A lot of vital opinions. If two heads are better than one, multiple heads can only be a good thing.

Check out the competition

Dissecting the target marketplace is a vital component of the design process. As well as giving everyone an understanding of where the finished product will fit, taking a deep dive into the strengths and weaknesses of the competition can help identify potential gaps in the market. The design can then be re-focused to ensure your final product fills that unique niche in the market place.

Time to build

Once you have defined the business objectives and user needs, UX workshops can be used to start structuring the architecture for your project (e.g. creating the foundations or blueprint for building your project). Known as Information Architecture, this is a collaborative process involving client and agency team members sorting the required elements into the best possible structure for the desired outcome.

Test the market

An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is essentially the first draft of a product or service. To see if the project is hitting the right notes from a user point of view, MVPs are often given to users for testing. Their invaluable feedback is then discussed in a UX workshop to help define the next stages of development e.g. what can be done to the design to help improve the user experience in the finished product.

Agency matchmaking

From a client point of view, a UX workshop at the project kick-off stage is a great way to gauge if you’ve picked the right agency for your brand before too much time has passed (and too much money has been spent). As you will be in the room with key stakeholders from the agency, it’s the perfect opportunity to see if their design and development processes are a good match with yours.

A UX workshop for every goal

Although our focus so far has been on the benefits of a UX workshop at project kick-off, there are other UX workshops that can be utilised throughout the design process to keep the overall project on track, on time, and on budget.

  • Discovery workshops: most commonly used at project kick-off, these collaborative workshops are used to define the client requirements, understand the marketplace, and agree on the project plans and priorities 
  • Empathy workshops: these sessions are all about defining who the typical user will be and identifying their needs, motivations, and behaviours so the project can be designed and developed from their viewpoint
  • Design workshops: these creative workshops are used to create ideas. A lot of ideas. The collaborative workshop element has the benefit of giving a feeling of shared ownership in a successful project outcome 
  • Prioritisation workshops: having defined the ideas and features for the project, these sessions are used to work together to decide what the priorities are by ranking them so there’s a clear focus for the next stage
  • Critique workshops: these invaluable feedback sessions ensure everything stays on track by helping everyone focus on the user, which makes the project stronger and can give you a competitive advantage

Save time and money

No matter what your digital project may be, running a UX workshop at the kick-off stage will help reduce the risk of unnecessary costs and save you time. 

Having created award-winning digital solutions for over 15 years, when it comes to running successful UX workshops, we’ve got the UX factor. That’s because we’re flexible, we take the time to understand our clients, and we use a user-centric approach to our work including web design, eCommerce, custom software development, and mobile apps. As a result, we create inspiring, usable, thoughtful design.

To find out more, simply get in touch.

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