As a LUMA Certified UX Facilitator, I'm responsible for facilizing various workshops that involve creating new products, reframing problems, prioritizing solutions, and more. Here are some examples of the types of workshops I typically lead.
Often, access to our users is limited due to their availability and location. However, we don't let that stop us from empathizing with our users via personas and empathy maps. Empathy mapping allows us to critically analyze a persona to make a user's goals, pain points, and processes more tangible. By using a well-researched persona as a starting point, we examine how this imaginary user would think, feel, and speak to better generate solutions that address the right problem. We frequently use empathy mapping during feature refinements to highlight the importance of UI improvements and their effects beyond the scrum team.
Walking a mile in our user's shoes was a crucial component in the empathizing phase. For this stage, we made several trips to the J.J. Pickle Research Facility by the University of Texas Austin. We spoke with plant operators and field technicians to understand their pain points in locating assets, addressing process alarms, and other day-to-day conflicts. We were able to run short usability tests with existing prototypes as well as conduct contextual interviews to gain a better understanding of how our users think. Ultimately, this trip informed many changes to the design including accessibility enhancements and reduced processing time.
When user testing isn't an option to find usability errors, we turn to heuristic reviews to comb through the application to find violations. Emerson has its own set of ten heuristics used to address the unique needs of our highly specialized users. Heuristic reviews typically consist of groups of developers and designers that walk through common user flows and mark violations with their severity. The most severe violations are then complied into a set of user stories from scrum teams to address at their own pace. Heuristic reviews on applications like Batch Control and DeltaV Explorer uncovered a large set of errors that sparked complete revamps of their interfaces. As a practice, we try to encourage scrum teams to keep copies of the heuristics close at hand and develop with them in mind.
Big ideas come from even bigger questions. The way we create those big questions is by using statement starters. By using the phrase "How might we..." to begin our statements, we encourage participants to create queries that are bold or dramatic in scope. For example, instead of asking "how might we make our product safer" we would ask "how might we make a product that would ensure a safety incident never happens again?" Through this thorough questioning process, we create a foundation in which only radical ideas can answer the question.
Diverging and casting a wide net of bold ideas can help when teams feel pigeonholed into a certain solution or have a narrow view of what could be done. Creative matrices, or as I like to call them the "Billion Dollar Idea Machine", are structures that encourage ideating on a problem statement through a specific lens. It forces a participant to consider new technologies, policies, and practices that otherwise may have been overlooked when viewing a problem with inherent biases and preconceived notions.
Customer Journey Mapping
Mapping out the flow of our application gives us an opportunity to ensure we address pain points, design challenges, and areas of improvement in our design. This collaborative effort is used to inform features for upcoming products and improvements to existing ones. These maps typically consist of "swim lanes" that are used for documenting the problems addressed, design opportunities, quotes from the user, screenshots of prototypes, and illustrations of the narrative's scenes. In the example below, we use customer journey mapping to plan the flow of an in-person demonstration of the future DeltaV concept product for the annual Emerson Exchange conference.
User Story Mapping
Unlike Customer Journey Mapping, User Story Mapping allows us to break down a feature into smaller user stories and arrange them in a way that presents a comprehensive flow. This visual tool is great for understanding the scope of the product and ideation for new functionalities within a feature. This tool is also used by the team informally to plan out internal work or ensure that all aspects of a prototype are planned.
DeltaV UX Boot Camp
In 2018, I created an internal program called DeltaV UX Boot Camp aimed at instilling design thinking into our developers, scrum team members, managers, and everyone in between. The sessions typically lasted 2 hours and covered topics like remote usability testing, everyday prototyping skills, and unlocking creative thinking. It was a combination of lecture material and hands-on training to solve real Emerson-related problems. The reception to the courses was overwhelmingly positive and now is being used as an onboarding tool for Emerson employees worldwide.