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Blog of Sydney-based digital and experience designer Adam Furness

iXDA Sydney Mentor Program – Midpoint

 
 

In my previous blog post I discussed my initial thoughts having just started the iXDA mentor program. It’s been great reconnecting with active learning, and doing so in a way that involves human contact, not a packed classroom or book. And it's about as bespoke as you can get. It’s also been interesting experiencing an organised mentor / mentee relationship.

From the outset, this process has been an exercise in getting out of my comfort zone: from catching the ferry to sunny Manly on occasion, to taking on a somewhat large project in my own time. It’s also been very rewarding, and we started out simply.

 

The Plan of Attack

Being a mid / senior-ish UXer, I was less concerned about information I can find out myself in blogs or forums. I really wanted to focus on learning from Diana’s specific knowledge and expertise; being able to translate her experiences into solutions to my own real challenges.

Our second meeting saw us get down to the business of planning our sessions and identifying subjects we’d try and cover, including:

  • Aligning stakeholders
  • Design for conversion
  • Research methodology
  • Requirements gathering / briefing
  • Shaping an IA
  • Content strategy
  • Selling UX benefits
  • Kickoff workshops
  • Co-design workshops
  • Usability testing

 

While there is a definite skew toward strategy, workshopping, process and client management, it’s still quite broad. So we prioritised these subjects based on my immediate needs; which were to overhaul my agency’s UX process. This also became my ongoing project and the context for activities that followed.

The most valuable thing about our meetings has been this real world context. Having a real problem to solve does a few things:

  1. It gives our activities structure and direction
  2. I can test and refine the outcomes based on real-world feedback, from clients and stakeholders
  3. We can create something tangible that has real value

 

The Effects So Far

Interestingly, our meetings have also had a ripple effect in generating wider discussion within my agency. The project to overhaul our UX process has created discussion extending beyond the UX team, which has been positive. Sharing my findings with the wider team has also revealed that the process we’re shaping is somewhat agnostic; It fits other disciplines. This is a nice ‘happy accident’ that we'll be exploring further.

Finally, a large part of this project has been the concept of productisation: finding ways to frame our services so they are more appealing, and creating a more effective process to deliver them. But I found a little wisdom in a meme the other day that is making me rethink this notion, or at least build it out a little. It read “sell the problem you solve, NOT the product”. Wise words, even if they were in meme form.

It definitely feels that while it’s not resolved, and it’s not perfect, that the project is headed in the right direction. And it's fair to say it wouldn't be where it is if not for this process and the guidance and support of my mentor.

 

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Adam Furness