User Experience (UX) Design Boot Camp – a lean approach to mobile app development

ITaaU/ustwo UX Bootcamp – 11th February 2015.

Part one

This is the first of three posts on the recent UX Boot Camp that ITaaU and ustwo organised on the 11 February, 2015 written by Alix King.

Taking place in Shoreditch at top digital product company ustwo, this one-day UX boot camp was aimed at people from all sectors with the aim of providing them with a unique insight into digital development. The accelerated workshop enabled attendees to experience the innovative approaches used by ustwo for User Centred Design when developing apps. These include a ‘lean’ approach, meaning one that ensures the best possible use of agile and start-up thinking with no coding involved as well as established paper prototyping techniques to speed up the initial development of mobile apps.

ustwo – the hosts

ustwo is a global digital product studio whose vision guides them in launching products, services and companies that make a measurable difference to the world. Recent successes have included: Monument Valley, Whale Trail and Blip Blup as well as cutting edge applications for some of the world’s leading brands. Ustwo has held previous successful workshops similar to this User Experience Design Boot Camp and has gained very positive feedback from attendees.

The day was run by two UX (User Experience) Designers at ustwo, Georgios and Isabelle. After the ‘meet and greet’ session for the attendees who came from a diverse range of backgrounds, Georgios and Isabelle asked everyone to attach a name badge with the words ‘My name is … and my favourite thing is …’. A great way to break the ice; favourite things ranged from wine, to films and great coffee.

Georgios explained that as a company, ustwo were involved in digital product design and has a diverse range of clients as well as a number of joint ventures, including one with Dice, ‘the smartest ticketing app on Earth’. The presenters explained how their work has evolved at ustwo and how the lean approach has become more dominant within this process.

Explaining the lean approach

Georgios, in explaining the background and motivation for this transition, said that over time, software development had become complex and required large teams of developers to capture requirements and business processes, produce documentation, project manage and test. This was an enormous financial investment for organisations and other stakeholders. With so many people involved, there was no guarantee that the app would be successful – many software applications came onto the market and were not successful at all. This meant that the expensive process was counterproductive and could be a huge waste of money and resources.

Lean manufacturing originally came from Japan with the realisation that whilst not able to compete in quantity, manufacturers could work in small batches and deliver competitive vehicles to meet a recognised demand. This in turn influenced Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, acknowledged as the principle initiator of the lean startup movement who said: ‘The goal of a startup is to figure out what people want in little time’.

Course presenter Isabelle Bargh, an expert on apps for the health sector, quotes Dr Claudia Pagliari from the Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh.

‘The process of using User Centred Design (UCD) when developing interactive systems is increasingly adopted. The emphasis on determining user needs and the context in which these users will interact with the systems is of great importance in order to deliver and designing a product from the bottom-up instead of the developers, organisations or the technicians’ viewpoint.’

ustwo have brought together all of these ideas and methodologies and used them to shape their own methodology. So for the next step are asked to capture ideas relating to the following:

  • Vision
  • Assumption
  • Hypothesis
  • Experiments
  • Insights

Georgios and Isabelle then split the workshop into smaller groups and presented them with their design brief for the day. The groups were asked to use these User Centred Design techniques to develop an idea for an app based on the brief.

So the work began.