Presentations need to focus on one specific example to get the message across more effectively

I recently presented as a Key note speaker at the 21st Oxford Geek Night.

When I arrived, about 70 people were crammed into a very small space at the top of the Jericho Tavern in Oxford. Drinks were free (at least the first one was) then we quickly simmered down in preparation for the first talk: Styleguides for the Web, by Paul Lloyd, visual designer at Clearleft (slides).

There was a five minute break before Nick, my side-kick UI developer, and I went on stage to present 15 minutes on: Rapid prototyping: fast, continuous, informed design and development, by Eewei Chen and Nick Bailey, Experience Design at Thoughtworks (slides).

You can step through the slide above at your leisure but my biggest takeaway is that people want specific examples they can focus on and pick apart. Some feedback included:

  • Would be great to see how all this theory can be applied to one project from start to finish
  • Provide insight into lessons learned and how they were applied to improve the user experience and better meet customer goals
  • Break a project apart and show where low-fi all the way to coded more hi-fi prototypes aided user testing and ‘getting the idea across’ more efficient
  • List of tools and techniques was useful
  • Presentation was good but was too much to take in
  • Tell a story, take us through the highs and the lows, how you learned to adapt and improve for all to see
  • Live code was brave but we get it. We want to learn about where to integrate, how it was done well so we can apply it

I look forward to giving this presentation again but next time it will be focussed on one project touching upon all areas. Tell a story that everyone can follow and have key take aways and tools at the end.

Why designers must hack

I love being given a challenge and are asked to solve it next to no time. It means you don’t have time to think so you just ‘do’. Doing means ideas flow; you get swept up in the storm that is creativity and you end up with the most amazing solutions, ones that are truly innovative. Start up days, hack days and design jams have successfully led to the creation of viable business propositions that match real world user needs in a very short time frame.

These days tackles a real world challenge need in 1-2 days and produce a fully working proof of concept prototype arrived at using design thinking, design doing, design testing and iterative improving .

So why do it?

  • Low risk
  • Fast
  • Insightful: answers a real end-user / consumer need or trend
  • Embraces the entrepreneurial spirit: experimental, fail fast, start up mentality to solve a critical business need
  • Creates working proof of concept software / product
  • There is so much less bull shit
  • It is fun!

Who can get involved? (what skills do you need?):

ANYBODY interested in problem solving


Day 1 – Research, Explore, Design… pivot!

Release a real world challenge e.g. Make tourists feel more like locals when they visit a new city to experience a new culture from the point of view of a local

· Research:
Brainstorm, analyse trends, analyse competitor landscape, create business model, define business success metrics, business metrics, technology, user test

· Explore:
Tech spiking, Group ideas and features together, prioritise features, stories (just enough), challenge business model, user test

· Design:
Sketch, user journeys, apply best practices, paper prototype, visual look and feel, user test

Day 2 – Iterative development

  • Build the damn thing
  • User test
  • Improve
  • Present and sell your concept!

Useful events: