By Abigael Wangui
iHub UXlab
  Published 14 Nov 2012
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The iHub UX Lab in collaboration with ThoughtWorks successfully completed the first UX training for the community Nairobi tech community. The aim of the training was to dimistify user experience design by letting the community learn and apply user practical user experience techniques on products they are actually working on.

What this hands on approach did was it get attention away from the misconception of user experience being a hard, extra load they  have to bear, to a practical process that adds value to their product’s experience in a way that made sense to them.

ThoughtWorks are leading software experts that devote time and energy in the art of custom software development. They deliver software with speed and predictability to their customers all over the world. They supported, helped organize and execute this training.

The conversation and work done was elegant in its simplicity but poignant in its impact.

We sought to answer the following questions;

  • Why does the user experience matter?
  • How and why does it matter to Africa and products we design?
  • After we all agreed it does, how then can I as a start up begin employing these techniques here and now?

The community got to learn two important techniques for collecting feedback as a basis for starting a UX culture in their product development process. They were introduced to think alouds and story mapping. This is because the fundamental basis for user experience design is empathy. How do we empathize with our users?

Helping answer this question makes the discussion by the entire product team nsyc. It is no longer an engineer focused product approach but begins to steer attention to the user. This was the biggest take away.


contextualizing user experience

User experience design takes a whole different meaning when applied in context. Often, we read about user experience on blogs of a user experience expert in London or a completely different context. These techniques come to life when applied in the context of the African user. They then make sense for the Africandesignerprogrammer. We can now discuss them and apply them in our context. This is the mandate for the iHub UX Lab. To make these complex-sounding techniques locally applicable and adaptable. This is the only way to beging sowing seeds of a UX culture here. We want to thank ThoughtWorks for master miniding this endeavor with us.

It is a long exciting road ahead but we are passionate the iHub UX Lab and the work we have begun. With global leaders like ThoughtWorks as partners in this journey, we are excited at the possibilities to create a ux culture in Africa. We think we have enough technical and design talent in Africa to make products that resonate with users.

If you are interested in partnering with the iHub UX Lab, please contact Mark Kamau, the iHub UX Lab lead. Mark[@]

If the user can't use it, it doesn't work. - Susan Dray
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