UI19 OnDemand

Videos from the 2014 User Interface 19 Conference

UX as a Team Sport

Leah Buley · Wednesday, October 29 · 8:30am – 5:30pm ·Pacific D ·sold out

Photo of Leah Buley

Orient your team to customer needs so you can build the “right thing at the right time.” Rally a team of allies by involving them in a human-centered design process.

Conduct research without breaking budgets or timelines. Stop fighting uphill battles that end in your work being back-burnered or (gulp!) dismantled.

Leah wrote The User Experience Team of One. She’s a design strategist at Intuit, which embraces design for delight.

The day’s agenda


Frame the conversation around customer needs

  • How to facilitate a shared discussion about goals, roles, and responsibilities
  • Why it’s vital to understand the customers you’re designing for (and their use cases)
  • A template for documenting your UX strategy and avoiding wasted effort

Make research happen

  • Lightweight research—using your phone—to gather information about your customers
  • A process for capturing a ton of user data together, then narrowing the focus
  • How to identify what insights are significant, and what do about them


Design for the customer

  • Tips to act on what you’ve learned about your customers
  • Drawing techniques—including sketching and storyboarding—to drive discussions
  • Lightweight tools to involve colleagues early, before a final solution is decided upon

Rally support in your organization

  • Common objections to human-centered UX design, and how to address them
  • Ways to manage uncomfortable conversations—and even make them productive
  • The talking points to persuade others, especially when priorities work against UX

Facilitate better collaboration

Speak the same language

Sketching activities are a powerful design discussion tool because they enable everyone in the room to see a shared, visible, and tangible idea on paper. Shape projects collaboratively as a team.

Handle hard conversations

Make conversations with difficult people easier. Learn to observe the tense moments, then work through them by actively listening and probing in a respectful, receptive manner.

Go from broad to narrow

Do a brain dump with your team to answer, “Who is our target customer?” Document the assumptions you’re all making, then narrow the focus to identify opportunities for delivering real value.

You’ll see how to:

  • Establish a realistic strategy for your team, product, and customer
  • Talk about who you’re designing for and NOT designing for
  • Find meaningful information to better understand your customers
  • Get your team’s questions, assumptions, and ideas on the table early
  • Draw the touchpoints your customers experience on their journey
  • Influence and persuade management to embrace human-centered design

Instill design practices for the entire company

Research methods to help your whole team understand your customer
Gather customer data without needing an organizational mandate or huge budget.
Truly collaborative design and brainstorming techniques
As one attendee put it, “I’ve gotten my program manager to sketch!” Change can happen.
Discussion tips to avoid feature debates 
Focus meetings on customers: who they are, why they are there, and what they want to do.
A practical, human-centered, team-friendly design process 
Designing for the customer translates to better products, greater value, and happier teams.

Get a good night’s sleep; this day is chock-a-block with activities

Prepare to get into some exercises that involve guerilla field research, sketching, critique, and design discussions.

You’ll need to bring a notebook, pen and camera (phone camera is fine) for the research work.

Leah Buley, UX Guardian Angel

Photo of Leah Buley

While we’d heard of Leah’s work, first at Barclay’s and then at Adaptive Path, we really weren’t aware of her talents until we saw her present at the IA Summit a few years back. We’d walked into her session—the largest room at the conference venue—to discover the only place to sit was on the floor, right up near the front.

Within moments, we knew why. Her delightful presentation style, along with her in-depth expertise, made for an intoxicating session. We just couldn’t get enough.

In 2009 and 2010, Leah’s presentations on “How to be a User Experience Team of One” were among the highest-rated at our conferences. She even wrote a book on the topic, delivered a virtual seminar for us last summer, and spoke about it to huge crowds at SXSWi (among others).

When not leading awesome workshops, Leah is a design strategist at Intuit, where she’s worked for three years on multi-channel product design. She’s also an Innovation Catalyst, meaning she facilitates change-management initiatives by guiding other teams throughout the organization on how to “design for delight,” an Intuit-specific, human-centered approach to design.


Listen as Leah discusses how to leverage the collective skills and intelligence of a group to improve the experience for your users.

Listen to the Podcast Now Read the Transcript

Prefer a different workshop? There are 3 other options on Wednesday

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