What's special about Guerrilla UCD
Usability and good user experience need to be built into products and services. They're not something you can add afterwards. Giving sole responsibility for user experience to specialists, with little support or understanding from the rest of the team is all too common, with considerable frustration and wasted effort on both sides. This series of webinars aims to redress the imbalance by bringing user-centred design to the whole team and putting the case for a critical focus on users when we're building interactive systems. We're not trying to turn software developers into usability specialists, but approaches like Agile need everyone on the team to be aware of issues like quality and usability. And that's where Guerrilla UCD comes in. (See The benefits for a further discussion.)
Whether you're a lone voice in your corporate wilderness or a whole team trying to improve usability and user experience, our Guerrilla UCD webinars have a lot to offer. They're designed for a broad audience, not just usability and user experience experts (although some sessions, such as 'Making the Case for UCD in Agile' do lean more in that direction). We've also pitched them to be affordable and easy to fit into a busy schedule. See our Special Offers page to find out how to get the best value from the webinars.
The sessions are run by William Hudson, a leading expert in user-centred design who consults and teaches internationally. They will have a practical focus but with enough background and theory to help you understand more complex issues. To allow you to fill in some of the gaps and to take things further yourself, each session has (optional) related reading consisting of over 40 titles across a broad array of subjects. These appear at the bottom of each session page and are summarized in the book list below.
How the webinars are organized
There are 16 x 90 minute Guerrilla UCD sessions plus a free, one-hour overview which you can either attend live or download once recorded. Apart from the initial 90-minute boot camp (which we suggest everyone attends if they can), the sessions are organized into three groups:
- Strategy - the five strategy webinars represent the basics of designing for usability. They include Visual Design for Usability, Navigation & Menu Design, SEO & Accessibility, Human Error, Messages & Feedback and Usability Evaluation.
- Tactics - these are more in-depth on specific topics including Card Sorting, Dynamic Web Pages, Web & Intranet Content, Advanced Users and Persuasive/Seductive Design.
- Lean & Agile - the lean and Agile sessions are more about process and how to make users the focal point of design. They include Making the Case for UCD (aimed primarily at usability and UX specialists), Integrating UCD & Agile, engaging the team with users through personas & design maps (part 1); use cases, user stories & scenarios (part 2); and conceptual models (part 3).
Note that all of the sessions are designed to be independent, although we do make suggestions for related courses on the individual webinar pages.
What to expect
Here's what to expect from the Guerrilla UCD webinars:
- Before each live session: Registration details and reminders by email. Slides for each session will be posted one business day before.
- During a live session: Audio is available either through the internet or via a local standard-dial telephone number in many countries. If you cannot connect to the webinar itself you will be able to dial in and follow along on the sessions slides. You can share your connection (and the course resources) with the whole team.
- After a live session: If you aren't able to attend a live session there will be audio and video recordings to download as well as the course slides. You can always ask questions about the course contents via email or a discussion group.
Most of the sessions are 'platform agnostic' - they apply to any interactive system including applications, web site, intranets and mobile devices - with only a few noted exceptions (the 'Writing Effective Web & Intranet Content' session, for example).
Finally, the webinars are not 'listen only'. There will be interactive polls and activities plus opportunities for questions both during the sessions and at the end.
So what's to get excited about? Usability and user-centred design aren't new. The answer is that we need to step back and take a look at how we develop software and systems. It is not enough (and never has been) to have a few usability and user experience specialists on the staff, while the hard core of developers simply do what they're told. (It doesn't sound too motivating either, does it?) Naturally this has changed to some extent within web development but most non-web software is still built using a very segregated approach, with specialists looking after their own areas of expertise. Not only is this hard to reconcile with lean & Agile philosophies (which don't promote specialist roles), it means the development team making the day-to-day decisions on implementation have no clear idea what their choices mean for users.
Our Guerrilla UCD webinars aren't intended to do away with usability and user experience specialists - far from it - but they provide a means for whole teams to work together with users as a focal point. The benefits of this more holistic approach are:
- Greater understanding and ownership of usability and UX issues
- Earlier recognition of potential UX issues
- Increased commitment to producing usable systems
- Reduced cost, risk and time scales
We don't expect you to rush out and buy a whole shelf-load of books. However, there is no doubt that a concise and well-written book can make many subjects easier to understand. You'll find a list of related books at the bottom of each webinar description, plus an overall summary in title order below. Note that the links refer to p-books (printed!) on Amazon US and UK but many of these are also available in e-book format and in other outlets.
B = Background/theory, E = Essential, P = Practical
(essential titles are more concise)
Don't miss our recently-published 55-minute guide to usability, accessibility and search engine optimization: Lighting the Road Ahead
Also see our articles page for more material on user-centred design, usability, accessibility and Agile, including:
There are also 30 articles by William originally published in the ACM's SIGCHI and Interactions magazines.