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A not so comprehensive thought on the state of UX Design culture.

UX is Bullshit.

We work in an industry which has developed a culture of elitism. A culture bred from always needing the newest, the coolest, the shiniest. Offices these days look less like offices and more like arcades, with foosball tables (we have one, it’s great) and retro PlayStation’s (we have that too, it’s also great). If you have a moleskin, a mac, if your trousers are slightly rolled up and you have no socks on and spend all day on a bean bag working in micro bursts, looking at postit note covered raw brick walls, talking about agile waterfalls – you know your stuff.


It all sounds like a bit of a laugh and it’s great until you meet someone who isn’t interested in having a laugh. They are interested in their complex project being launched on a tight deadline…and not laughing…and are disturbed by your lack of socks.

What we can take from this is that sometimes we need to ditch the gimmicks and the games.

Apply this principle to the UX Workshop – how does it change? We now have a vast array of UX workshop processes & techniques, which with the right time, budget and client work a treat. What about a tight timeline, a tight budget, complex site structure and a client who isn’t convinced by the elaborate discovery process but who needs the UX on their website to really work.

What do we do? What do we need? How do we get it in the time allocated whilst maintaining a positive relationship with an impatient client?

You sit round a table and start talking.

It’s important for your client to take the process seriously and to have faith that you know what you’re doing – some will but some won’t.

Let’s use a simple post-it note exercise as an example. We want to identify and audience, their goals and stakeholder goals. We could get our client write out a bunch of postits from directed questions and stick them on a wall organise them and take photos but… do we need to?

Let’s elaborate on that question:

  • Can this be seen as a bit silly?
  • Does the activity overshadow the point of the exercise for some people?
  • Can we ask questions designed to direct the conversation and record useful outcomes as they crop up in a more familiar meeting format (like UX Psychologists, Frasier Crane but for UX)?
  • Can we use common sense to make assumptions?
  • Can we simplify and still come away with the same valuable information?

Of course we can.

The success of extracting this information depends upon the participants willingness to invest a short period of time to develop and divulge this valuable information. It’s up to us to use the most appropriate method to do this – it may well be an elaborate week-long process involving flip charts and postits and all manner of stationary (socks optional) or it may be a 40-minute conversation.

The UX of the UX Workshop matters. Don’t feel pressure to follow conventional processes – develop your own. This will largely depend on your personality, the type of clients you work with, complexity of projects and your companies process and business model.

The point then…

I suppose the point is to take industry standards with a pinch of salt, and this can relate to anything – design trends, theory, coding standards, frameworks, schmameworks, kablameworks. It’s ok to develop a process and action it. You will inevitably encounter a No Socks Norman saying, “OMG you don’t use postits on a raw brick wall and spend 40 days discovering your clients’ needs through a series of games?!”. The appropriate response can be seen in the image at the top.


Mark McGall
Senior Designer

Cyclist, hipster, coffee drinker and guitarist, Mark has spent the last 10 years ensuring your website users journey is as seamless and effortless as possible.

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