Back on September 9th, 2009 we hosted our first prototyping event for the Vancouver IxDA local group. There’s been interest in how we went about putting it together and how it turned so I’ve tried to compile a quick synopsis here below…Hope it’s useful!

Goals:

The intent of the workshop was to stimulate the conversation around what our local Interaction Design pals are using day-to-day on projects and take our first real strides into skill set based events driven by the local community. We opened it up to include anyone that wanted to present but it turned out only being the local leaders that presented, which was a bit of a bummer but provided good insight. It was by far our best showing since starting the chapter a year ago so there must be something to this prototyping thing. ;^)

Structure:

In terms of the actual presentation, it seemed like allocating 30min to each presenter was a healthy amount of time when you consider the ensuing discussions that took place. We started off the meeting with an overall discussion as to the value of prototyping to the best of our collective understanding and it got a great discussion going right away. That made for a smooth transition into the first presenter, and host, Haig Armen (@haigarmen), which was on Flash Catalyst and a comparison to Flash. I presented using InDesign to create clickable prototypes and then Shaun Bergmann (@Corvidael) presented on his world of prototyping for hardware specific touchscreen devices using a TERRIBLE system that he’s forced into due to the device and using Fireworks for various parts of his practice. Leading up to the event there was some conjecture from a few folks, with semi-arrogant tone I might add, about this being an Adobe marketing event and bitching about us only referencing prototyping in terms of web/desktop/mobile apps. Needless to say, I invited both of those people to present on what tool they use and, big surprise, never heard back from them.

With the event wrapping up we like to ask people what might have made this event better and also ask what topics they are interested in learning more about or even presenting on. I really want this to be an open forum for all of our local IxD peeps to come together to talk shop and hopefully start mentoring eachother, or at least brainstorming.

Insight:

I learned that we need to be constantly brainstorming on ways to increase participation and that might be best stimulated by having a full-participation workshop event sooner than later where to decrease the barriers that might be hindering people from public presentation. I think we all face a similar situation where people aren’t willing to give themselves enough credit as “expert enough” to be presenting. To that I call bullshit and will focus on encouraging everyone to share what they’re doing because I’m not interested in having the discussion about right/wrong ways to be a UX/IxD practitioner, but rather how we expose each other to as many skills as possible and, equally important, WHEN to utilize the skills.

One of the spontaneous discussions that quickly took shape was around WHEN to use particular types of prototyping and the importance of HOW you present. Selling/framing the utility of a prototype for your goals at a particular stage in the project is huge and led to some pretty cool insight from the crowd. It was arguably the most spirited part of the evening.

The overall feedback form the event was outstanding and everyone was fired up for the next one.

Links:

» Haig Armen on Twitter (@haigarmen)
» Shaun Bergmann on Twitter (@Corvidael)
» My ramblings on Twitter (@stony)

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