UX Saturday is an event focused on practical explorations of user experience design and design justice principles. While the event is experimental and messy, our eventual goal is to build relationships with nonprofits and community groups to facilitate design-oriented conversations.
We developed the idea for UX Saturday because we were interested in creating an event to teach UX to people who are new to tech, and were interested in finding ways to apply UX to issues of social good.
We'd both attended UX 'hackathons' for UX, but we didn't have experiences with events with a focus on helping others, as opposed to making profitable products. Inspired by the design justice, specifically by Sasha Costanza-Chock's recent book on the topic and the Design Justice group at Allied Media, we wanted to learn more about facilitating design without perpetuating existing prejudices and forms of marginalization.
We chose the topic of Education and Teacher Retention for our first event.
The first event was held March 7, 2020 at The Living Room in Durham, NC. We hosted eleven participants, including designers, software developers, nonprofit employees, and other community members. Most people found the event through our outreach via slack and email networks, and also via the eventbrite app.
We spent the first part of the day discussing user experience design and design justice concepts. Then the participants separated into small groups of 3 or 4, and reviewed transcripts from user research interviews that Lexi and I had compiled before the event.
The groups spent the rest of the day developing problem statements, personas and low-fidelity designs. We completed one round of testing their designs, then each group presented their project at the end of the day. The projects included a digital grading system and a forum for teachers to provide honest feedback to administrators.
We also encouraged participants to share the limitations of their design, such as the fact that they weren't able to test on teachers.
We solicited real-time and anonymous post-event feedback. Everyone who attended said they were excited to attend again and to learn more about design justice. Participants commented that they would like to incorporate real users into the next UX Saturday event, so we're looking into ways to partner with a nonprofit or community organization for the day, in a way that benefits everyone involved.
One tenant of design justice is that designers should see themselves as facilitators, not as experts. While our inaugural event did not completely align to this standard, our eventual goal is to build a community of facilitators who are interested in learning from and helping to amplify the voices of people already doing great work in local communities.