UX Breakfast: What is Service Design Thinking?

Last month I was able to participate in the latest UX Breakfast, Service Design & Design Thinking at Cafe Laurent. If you're not familiar with the event, the Los Angeles web design community gathers once a month to discuss many of the hottest topics buzzing around our industry including UX design. I encourage you sign up for next month's event before it sells out! Before I get started, I want to give the event organizers a BIG shout out! Thank you Crystal Ehrlich (@cbehrlich) and Charlie "Carlos" Salazar (@CharlieSalazar) for putting on this awesome event month after month. High-fives!In my corner, I was privileged enough to sit next to Craig Peters (@craigpeters), Hunter Ochs (@hunterochs), Yoko Nakano (@yknakano) and Charlie Salazar (@CharlieSalazar). Below, you'll find a few of the topics we chatted about. Let's get started!Be sure to check out my interview with Craig Peters, CEO of Awasu Design. We discussed Service Design Thinking, storytelling and ways that you can become better at UX design tomorrow. Read Interview »

What is Service Design Thinking?

Service Design Thinking is a holistic way of visualizing a brand's overall user experience. Though the phrase has been garnering a lot of attention in the media, our table agreed that the concept has been around for awhile and that the new moniker is merely a change in semantics. This doesn't denote the importance of Service Design Thinking and UX design. The phrase is tangible for clients, and taking the time to see how your brand's touch points interconnect with each other can help you identify ways to strengthen their relationships and, even better, discover new innovating ones.For example, mapping out the user experience of a bank customer might help a UX design team visualize a connection between a bank's mobile app and their ATMs. This might lead to a new innovative idea such as allowing customers to automatically sign in to ATMs as they pull up in their vehicles.Want to know more? Check out these Service Design Thinking videos.

Selling Usability to your Clients

Yoko Nakano asked our table "How do you guys convey the importance of UX design and usability to your clients?" Craig Peters quickly answered, "You have to sell it!" He gave us an example where a client wasn't 100% convinced on usability testing. His client didn't see the importance (ahh!). Craig's team quickly gathered a group of users and had them complete various tasks on the client's website. They recorded the tests then compiled the videos and presented it to the client. Once the client saw that their users were having issues purchasing their product, they quickly understood the importance of usability testing and UX design. This is something you can try with your clients tomorrow!Try www.webex.com to record your next user testing session. If budget is a concern, try Join.me and Quicktime to record your session.

What is UX design?

Hunter Ochs lead us into our next topic. He wanted to know what UX Design meant for each one of us. He went on to discuss the technology aspects of user-interface design, best-practices and UX design in terms of user workflows and patterns. These are all important areas of Service Design Thinking. We also discussed the emotive portion of UX Design, in terms of how an interface interacts with the user on an interpersonal level. A good interface should have an engaging relationship with the user. By doing so, the experience becomes comfortable and user friendly leading to a more productive user.Check out our Los Web Design Community: Event Review on Dani Chisnell's Deconstructing Delight: Pleasure, Flow and Meaning. She discusses the emotive side of UX Design.

Sell User Experience by Telling a Story

Storytelling may be the buzzword of the year. Craig Peters discussed how it is not only beneficial to the actual product, but to the sales pitch for UX services such as UX design as well. He went on to talk about how important a good presentation is and how's it's not created overnight, but is the culmination of many iterations and planning. It's about preparation. Hunter Ochs also discussed how improv lessons can help during presentations. He said he saw dramatic improvements after a colleague signed up for an evening improv workshops.

Getting Better Client Participation Through Workshops

There can be a ton of moving pieces, decisions and sign-offs that need to be made throughout the life of a project. Craig talked about how his studio uses workshops to help get stockholders involved in the project. Are wireframes taking too long? Invite your client over to the studio to knock them out in collaborative workshop.For more information about running productive workshops, making decisions and moving projects along. Check out Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making by Sam Kaner.

Hindsight is 20/20. Harness Hindsight Now with Heaven and Hell Technique

If you could see into the future, what would you do to help your product today? Try fore-sighting with the Heaven and Hell exercise. Have your team look gaze into the future and under "Heaven" write the best case scenarios for your project, i.e. "featured as top app in iTunes store" or "increased monthly sign-ups by 10%". Now for each of these, have your team team write down possible reasons why they came true, like "feature on TechCrunch lead to 20,000 new sign ups" or "created a blog with a steady feed of updates." Now do the same for Hell. This isn't as fun, but can be the most beneficial part of the exercise. Examples might be "competition surpassed us with new features", "new memberships plateaued" or "could not find interested investors." Reasons could be "not enough attention and budget for research and design", "failed to get attention of review sites" or "overlooked SEO".Even though these are assumptions, they can give you a place to start thinking about potential opportunities and pitfalls that might lay ahead. Try it!

Next UX Breakfast: NFC and RFIDs

Crystal and Carlos are busy getting things ready for the next UX Breakfast. UX'ers will gather to talk about NFC (Near field communication) and RFIDs (Radio-frequency identification). Potential guest speakers include Phillipe Tregon, Theresa Billy and someone from VIVOtech.---I hope you enjoyed my synopsis of last month's event. I think there are some good nuggets in here. I definitely encourage you to take the topics discussed and do a little more research to see what you can learn. Personally, I am pretty excited to incorporate some of Craig's suggestions on UX design in to my future projects. Also, who knows. It might be time to sign up for an Improv class. It sounds like a fun way to sharpen up the presentation skills.If you have an comments, suggestions, please let me know. You comment below or email me a luke@mediacontour.com. Thanks!