by Alireza Mogharrab

Host a UX Lunch and Learn and become a UX Hero

A practical guide on how to host a UX lunch and learn event in your office

Image from http://www.uxherocomics.com/

The speed of innovation in Samsung is part of its culture, and its fast pace makes it challenging to keep stakeholders constantly up to date with what is happening. As a user experience (UX) researcher, this is my job to do.

Our UX team hosted a lunch and learn event, and my colleagues in UX research and I co-presented our top user insights from Samsung usability studies.

It doesn’t matter how many people are in your office. An event where people can eat and listen to some interesting ideas and insights about users will always make the effort pay-off. In this article, I’ll share a few things I’ve tried that worked. You may need to adjust it based on your own company.

Why UX lunch and learn?

You can reach out to more stakeholders all at once

In another post, I explained how useful it is to invite stakeholders to usability testings and field studies. However, it is not possible to have them all participate in such activities.

Not all the stakeholders are available at the same time, and even if they are, you might not be able to have them all in the usability lab or in the field. Other than that, there are some stakeholders that are not directly involved with product design and development, and asking them to take part as an observer in usability studies might be irrelevant.

Due to these limitations, we should think of other ways to increase user-awareness among stakeholders.

You help everyone in the office develop empathy for the customers they are serving

Almost everyone agrees that creating a good user experience can positively impact customer loyalty to the brand and eventually increase your revenue. But good UX design is not enough. The hard part is to enable people in your organization to deliver that great experience. This is not possible just by telling people what to do.

You need to show them how the user is experiencing the product, what the pain points are, and what the user wants to achieve. This enables stakeholders to develop empathy toward the user and avoid making poor decisions right at the top.

Among the different ways that I tried to build empathy for the user, hosting a lunch and learn event seems to have advantages that exceed others.

You can be a user advocate without pointing fingers

When it comes to usability test reports, it is easy to just show what is not working. But then it is also easy to create hard feelings among different stakeholders, and point fingers and blames others. This becomes more important in larger companies, as no one benefits when the UX hits the fan!

Presenting what is not working by showing how users struggle to a group of stakeholders creates a low-pressure environment for stakeholders to see the problems, without placing the blame on them.

Planning a UX lunch and learn

Invite everyone in the office — even the security guy

This is very important, especially when you are in a B2B enterprise or your company does not deal directly with the end user. It is so easy to forget who we are designing for.

It is important for everyone in the office to learn who are the actual people they design and develop for, and what are their needs and goals.

Send the invitation early

People are always busy with meetings, workshops, travels and so on. Make sure you give them a few weeks’ notice about the event, so they know early on. Additionally, use other methods such as posters in the office to let everyone know this event is coming up.

Ask your office coordinator to help you with logistics

There are a bunch of things that need to be done to host such events. Ordering food, setting up the room, and more. If you have dedicated people for it then great! Otherwise, do it yourself. You are the user’s hero!

What to avoid?

Avoid trashing your product and the company

Be absolutely honest, but try to avoid destroying the product that you are critiquing. Let your research speak out. Do not make conclusions. Do not point fingers to a group of stakeholders.

Avoid using videos with low sound quality

People might tolerate a low quality video, but no one wants to hear noises you recorded from the fan in the usability room. Pick the ones that communicate the message and are easy on the eyes and ears.

What to include?

Make it simple, since not everyone is on the UX team

Think of developers who work more with if statements than users. Think of engineers, people in marketing, and project managers.

Even people in your UX team might not know everything about the feature you are explaining. Make it simple and understandable.

Include positive stuff too

Lunch and learn is not all about showing the problems and making people feel bad about the product! You must also show the features that are working well. You need to keep the positive vibes going. This helps people to continue doing what is working well.

Divide each feature/topic/project into three slides

Here is how I would make the slides:

  1. Context
    Briefly show and tell what the feature or project was about. And what method you used for testing, or any particular things you want to mention about design features.
    Keep it brief though, and avoid UX jargon
  2. User
    Here is where you show the video of usability testing, a user journey map, or analytics.
  3. Insight
    This is where you talk about what you learned and interesting insights and ideas.

Things to consider

Do a test run of your lunch and learn

Think about it. If you are in a large office and you are asking for 50–100 stakeholders give you 30 minutes of their time, you better make this worth it.

Before this, try to ask one of the stakeholders who is not on the UX team (maybe from the marketing people, or developers) to come and sit with you and listen to what you have to say. If it makes sense to them, then great.

If not, then iterate your content until it does make sense to a non-UX person.

Tell them why this is important

Have a slide in the beginning and tell people why you think learning about users early and often is important, and how it does positively affect the product.

Make it interactive, you are not giving a lecture

Remember, this is not a lecture. Make some time for comments and questions after each part. Be mindful of time, but let the discussion go when it does.