We spent the first day of FLUPA UX Days exploring a few UX methodologies in interactive workshops. Our favorite takeaways from the day? Boosting creative ideation with PLEX cards, facilitating productive group discussions with de Bono hats and testing site maps to improve user navigation – all in the name of an improved user experience! Read on for our full review below.
Designing Enjoyable, Playful Experiences with PLEX cards
Andrés Lucero and his team created PLEX (PLayful EXperiences) cards inspired by gamification rules in order to facilitate the creative ideation process in building a great user experience. Andrés touched on the importance of playfulness in design; designing for playfulness creates enjoyable UX experiences for end users.
There are two ways of using the cards:
- PLEX Brainstorming: To quickly generate fresh ideas
- PLEX Scenario: To quickly create storytelling and story lines
We started the workshop with a quick brief: how to open an IT company towards new use contexts. By using the PLEX cards in groups of two, we were to come up with new digital service ideas. The pairs began by placing a PLEX card down with an emotion or experience on it, and then they built off of that concept by laying down following cards.
The results were surprising; there were a variety of creative service ideas that emerged, thanks to the PLEX cards. Several participants noted how the interactive, storytelling element of playing with the cards led them to new ideas that they would not have otherwise considered.
Overall, we found it to be a very dynamic, interactive workshop that very well illustrated the importance and role of playfulness in the creative design process. Ideation techniques can be daunting when there are too many cards, but PLEX cards are an attractive alternative because of their simplicity and colorful design.
Dynamic Group Discussions with de Bono’s Thinking Hats
No, we’re not talking about Bono from U2’s hat collection… Rather, this is a group management method that was developed by Edward de Bono and presented at FLUPA by Antoine Blanchard and Martin Deramecourt. This method helps create the right atmosphere for a group to work together and make decisions dynamically, by pairing divergent thinking with convergent thinking. They are both important in any team based discussion; the first phase (divergent thinking) essentially generates many individual ideas and gets them on the table. Then, the second phase (convergent thinking) allows the group to start honing in on specific ideas and flushing them out more in detail.
6 Hats, 6 Roles
Each hat represents a different emotion and state of mind. By using this combination of hats, it facilitates exchanging ideas and funnels them into a productive decision making process. The different hats are designed to be complementary:
- White hat: neutrality. Once someone is wearing it, they must express themselves purely and simply, by adding numbers and facts to the group. It’s a cold, minimalist image that evokes simplicity.
- Red hat: passionate. The person wearing the red hat expresses themselves with a lot of emotion and intuition. They do not justify themselves with the other hats; it’s representative of fire, passion and strong intuition.
- Black hat: negativity. This person must present the perspective of a negative critic; their communication revolves around dangers and risks, while waiting for ideas to become more concrete. Always playing the devil’s advocate, they are prudent and full of negative judgements.
- Yellow hat: positivity. A yin to the black hat yang, the wearer of this hat must express their craziest, wildest ideas and dreams. They also try to take into consideration other group members’ ideas and find constructive criticism. It’s the sun and optimism of the group.
- Green hat: creativity. The person wearing the green hat prompts discussions, looks for alternative solutions to problems. They think outside the box and look for new ideas, fostering new idea generation.
- Blue hat: the moderator. The meeting organizer who guides and channels ideas and exchanges between the other hats. It’s the blue sky that encompasses the entire discussion.
Putting it into practice
During the workshop, we were given a brief to test out the de Bono hats: a bedding and furniture manufacturer wants to incorporate IoT and smart objects into its approach.
Dividing into groups of 4, at first each person individually comes up with a few innovative ideas for a smart bedroom. The group then reunited to vote for the best idea, passing each concept through the mill of the 6 hats to test its relevance and further develop new ideas.
Conclusion: the de Bono hats are helpful to ensure we are moving in the right direction, to compare different ideas, or to get some perspective on a specific problem. This technique can be useful in funneling a group energy and effort in choosing concepts and developing them collectively, as it encourages everyone to participate.
Testing your Site Map to Optimize Navigation
Of the few workshops that covered tests during FLUPA UX Days, we were most intrigued by the one on site map testing, led by Cornelia Laros. The goal is to quickly test the most important content for users (and for the brand) to ensure the proposed navigation is easily accessible and obtains the key objectives. These kinds of tests can be done quickly and easily, done with online test tools (for example Optimal Workshop) or even as a paper prototype.
In the workshop, small groups worked on writing 5 questions each to test a small site map, but in real life you should ideally find 30 users and ask them 10-20 questions. The idea is to write questions that give enough context, but do not guide the user (keywords should be avoided in this case).
In online tools, the result can be in the form of a pie tree, detailing for each question the proportion of users who went to the retail place and the number of tries it took them to get there.
- If a pie tree has 2 or 3 branches, it may be more appropriate to focus on user profiles to explain the different user journeys that could lead them to the right place.
- If the pie tree is too all over the place, the problem is likely in how the question was formed and it should be revisited to clarify the test for users.
We found each of these three methods very interesting, and complementary to the UX practices we already have in place at the agency. PLEX cards and De Bono’s hats could be very useful in injecting creativity into very long term projects that may have difficulty in generating fresh ideas. We also found the site map tips particularly helpful, especially in constructing e-commerce websites that depend so heavily on having the users effortlessly understand the site architecture and navigation.