On May 22-24, 17 Visma employees of different backgrounds joined together to participate in UX training courses in Oslo and Timisoara, hosted by UX Designers Odd-Wiking Rahlff and Raquel Ferreira (Oslo) and Ionut Bradatan and Bogdan Micalacean (Timisoara).
“The UX Training was among the most useful successions of three days in my career so far.” – Lavinia Popescu (participant)
Day 1 – Understanding UX
From the very first minute, we were put at ease by the trainers assurances that no questions are stupid. We started by conducting an introduction game where we drew each other without looking at the drawing and then presented each other to the group. It turned out that we hailed from seven locations and work in 13 different teams. After this introduction we, in the company of two excellent trainers (hats off to you!), commenced our noob journey in User Experience.
The aims of the first day was to improve our understanding of UX design, enable the user-centred work process within Visma teams and to enable us to perform our own UX-related tasks, with the larger goal of making us all apprentices of UX in our own teams. The trainers walked us through the current standing of UX in Visma. There are about 80 UX professionals working in the organisation now, and by teaching the basic UX principles to as many employees as possible, the hope is that UX will be a core reflex for most teams in the long run. Odd-Wiking and Raquel explained the return on investment of spending time and money on UX as follows:
“Once a piece of software is released, the cost of fixing an error can be 100 times as high as it would have been during the design and development stage.”
We were then introduced to an object and principles that we would become quite familiar with over the three course days: The UX pyramid and its principles.
A “common mistakes”-session elucidated what not to do, and put that in context of software design, so that we could all learn to recognise do’s and don’ts. We learned that a good UX and a UCD process should:
- Reduce costs for development, maintenance, redesign, support, training…
- Increase revenue, traffic, market shares, ease of use…
- Improve customer retention, trust in the software, user satisfaction…
Day 2 – Preparing for the practical part
The second course day focused on the importance of user research and Visma’s user-centred design process. We learned that the main goals of user research are to:
- Understand how users think and behave.
- Gather facts and data instead of relying on opinion or speculation.
- Perform studies, design and test with users before we implement anything.
A thorough introduction on how to prepare for user observations greatly helped us when course participants got to try this out on each other. We were divided into groups of three where one was the user, one the observer and one the note taker. I think we would all agree that there were revelations to us all during this session. The most mundane things could become obstacles to a user, and that is worth keeping in mind when planning functionality.
In the final session, we learned how to prioritise UX issues and tried to asses what would give most value to the user before we started to sketch our first prototypes. The groups changed and we got to know other participants in the course while working together on a new task.
Day 3 – Knowing the ropes
To know what to do when we come across UX challenges, we got to spend a day practising the principles that were introduced to us. We worked a bit more on the sketches from day 2 before we went around trying them out on willing participants on the sixth floor. The time to iterate the sketches and then repeat the process was a bit limited, but we got the notion.
We were then introduced to low-fidelity prototyping in Balsamiq, a tool that let us link and perfect our sketches. We then presented them to the UX trainers and the group. We learned that simplicity is not easy, but very important. The final day ended with a feedback session and tying up loose ends.
When a group of totally different people come up with more or less similar solutions for a software product, you know you’re on the right path. The teams were balanced and we are still in awe of the way in which we were received and treated when asking random colleagues around the company to test our paper prototypes.
The course’s varied contents will prove useful for any role in the company. It was really nice to get to know so many great employees that were interested in UX and UX principles across Visma. We would state that there is no room for doubt that the UX training was successful, useful and so, so necessary.
To conclude, this course has given us new perspectives, left us with some excellent book choices and reinforced our beliefs regarding the need for diversity in software, as well as helped newcomers in the company to meet and interact with a plethora of awesome people.
“I would do it again. Seriously, I would pretend that none of this happened only to do the course again.” – Lavinia Popescu (participant)
Gørild is a Senior Technical Writer and Translator in Visma Software International. She mainly works on Visma.net Financials, translating UI texts and writing help topics for the support panel. She attended the UX training to better understand how the UX team in Visma works, and to see how we can achieve a closer connection between information design and UX design in Visma, to benefit the end user.
Lavinia has been working with Visma for three months now, as a Tech QA in the Document Center team. She wanted to expand her QA horizons and understand a user’s point of view better. She found the UX training was perfect for that! She is looking forward to a long and exciting collaboration with everyone here.