An Empathy Workshop for Non-Designers

Empathy workshops for non-designers

Empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of another, is an indispensable tool for user experience designers. We design better solutions when we understand the human environment of the user while they are using our product: are they relaxed, under stress, working with physical or cognitive impairments?

We’re not only better problem solvers when we’re empathetic, but, since empathy strengthens our active listening skills, using it makes us better researchers and collaborators.

Of course, empathy isn’t just a skill for designers: being able to quickly empathize with someone lets us start every conversation, whether problem-solving or negotiation, from a place of understanding, rather than judgement.

Empathy workshops help you understand users

Empathy workshops are facilitated group activities and discussions dedicated to helping us learn about people whose life experiences are sufficiently different from ours, because understanding their specific needs and abilities is crucial to designing for or interacting with them in a useful way.

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Agile development, when a team is distributed across time as well as distance, is not easy.

As UX architect on a such a team for almost three years, I believe that if your team focuses on the methodology, rather than the methods, then agile is both possible and beneficial.

In this story, I’ll share, from a UX perspective, what worked, what didn’t work and key takeaways you can try with your own distributed team.

Like many organizations, the one my team and I worked for used some agile rituals, but still developed software in a waterfall manner. When my team formed, we wanted to be agile, but we didn’t know exactly how to start.

We worked together for a few waterfall-y releases, before our first leap into agile. We’ll call this one ‘bare-metal agile’, since we tried to follow the leanest, meanest practice we could. We’ll call the second attempt, ‘little waterfalls’, since we broke down the project into parts and we used waterfall for each part. The final, and most successful attempt was a hybrid of both.

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