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How to showcase your designs? 🎪 | Grab a Coffee ☕️ #20

Grab a Coffee ☕️
During my studies (I’m actually an environmental engineer 🌱), I always struggled with giving talks. Just the idea of standing up in front of 30, 50 or 100 people and talking about my work and findings made me nervous. But why?
Mostly the fear of saying the wrong thing and being exposed held me back then. Hello imposter.
But in my work as a UX designer, I can’t avoid sharing and discussing my work with others. In the beginning, this also made me nervous and to some extent it still does today. But something important has changed in contrast to my student days: I no longer sit alone for weeks over a project and when it’s done, I present it.
Instead, I work in an iterative process in which regular exchange and open discussion are simply part of the game. I’ve found a system for sharing my designs with my team and getting feedback.
Got your coffee ready? ☕️ Let’s talk about UX showcases!

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🎪 What is a UX showcase?
A UX showcase is a recurring meeting where you present your work as a UX designer and discuss it with the participants. You get regular feedback on your design work and can clarify open questions in a direct exchange.
To make this a success, I have summarized a few important things that I have learned from my previous UX showcases. 
🎡 Why to showcase your UX work?
It does take some discipline to conduct regular UX showcases, but there are good reasons to do so:
  • Create awareness and show how UX will improve the product.
  • By justifying design decisions, you share your knowledge with the team at the same time and the awareness for good user experience is strengthened.
  • You have a regular exchange and see if you are still working in the right direction and considering all user needs.
How to hold a UX showcase?
Preparation
You don’t need to tell a huge story or prepare a perfect PowerPoint presentation. The point is to present your work in progress. 
Show what the challenges are and how you will solve them through design. 
If you’ve done showcases before, it’s also helpful to summarize the results and takeaways and pick up where you left off for the current showcase. 
Also, think about any open questions you have that you would like to have answered by the UX showcase.
I run showcases in a WIP FigJam file that captures the key considerations and designs. Often this is a copy of the original file, to which I also give the team direct access after the showcase (24h edit rights in FigJam), so everyone can leave their input directly in the design.
It’s up to you whether you send out an agenda before the showcase and, for example, already share the open questions in it so that the participants can think about them, or whether you share everything during the showcase. If you have very little time for the showcase, it is a good idea to include the questions in the invitation. 
Invite the right people
So who should participate in the UX showcase? It varies depending on the project and the state of your work. 
Do you have a lot of questions about user feedback and behavior? Then turn mainly to UX researchers, people from Sales and the Customer Success team. 
If it’s more about complicated solutions that might be strategically and technically challenging, then definitely invite the responsible Development and Product team. Members of the management team can also be important participants.
However, I don’t exclude the others and organize my UX showcases as open meetings in which people can also participate who are not explicitly on my participant “wish list”. 
Steps of your UX showcase
  • Review — Give a brief review of the takeaways from the last showcase.
  • Walkthrough —Jump into today’s topic and give a walkthrough of the current state of the design.
  • Decisions — Emphasize what changes you made based on the last feedback, or what suggestions didn’t make it. Give solid reasons for your decisions.
  • Questions —Clarify what open questions you have that you need feedback or input on. It’s best to visualize these questions for the showcase.
  • Round table —Open the round table for input and questions from the participants. Set a fixed time frame for this.
  • After show —After the showcase, give everyone access to the design file (or a copy of it) and allow them to leave further comments, e.g. with post-its.
It’s always good to learn from others, but I haven’t really found much on the topic of UX showcases, although I think it’s a common practice in many teams.
A super example of regular UX showcases is provided by GitLab. If you want to explore their process, you can read everything in detail in their open documentation.
👋 The show is over
Conducting UX showcases sounds time-consuming and a bit intimidating at first. But you’ll find that the more you discuss the current WIP with your team, the easier they will become and you can benefit tremendously. 
If you’ve read this far, thank you for your interest and I hope you’ve learned something new. Because that’s exactly why I’m writing this newsletter: I want to share my experiences so that others can benefit from them. 🚀
And as you can surely tell from the name of this newsletter, I just love coffee. If you would like to support my work, you can sponsor me with a cup of coffee here. Thanks so much in advance! ☕️
If you would like to get more insights, follow me on Twitter or Instagram, and please share the Grab a Coffee ☕️ newsletter with your friends, colleagues and all other people who could be interested.
See you next week with new topics and an amazingly good cup of coffee. ☕️
Marina 👋
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Marina
Marina @marina_kdot

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