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Designers & Coffee – Design Challenge Series

I recently got the chance to attend my first meetup with Designers & Coffee. Lately in all my searches to find new meetup groups especially the user experience scene, I’m finding a lot of overlap. Not just the members who I’ve met from other groups. However also I’ve expected the usual talk / presentation about user experience. Finally I got to experience something different that I was lacking. A challenge.

Designers & Coffee, organized by Dorsa Giyal and Nilan Kasandas put on their first design challenge. We met at one of the downtown locations of WeWork in Toronto. Design challenges are some of the things that I’ve been yearning to be apart of. You can only do so many projects on your own. Group collaboration and given a task to complete was great practice. I also came away from this event with a potential portfolio piece to strengthen my user interface component.

I have in the past partaken in hackathons as well. However they tend to lack in some areas when it comes to incorporating user experience and user interface designers. Some members preferred to jump straight into prototyping and coding. The other is commitment to organizing groups. Most I’ve done have been via Slack channels for these events. Getting groups together and actually participating and showing up have stumbled in my opinion.

From meeting the various people attending from Designers & Coffee, everybody was coming from a stage in their life. Some were transitioning from a previous career to UX or UI. Some have just graduated from a bootcamp programme. It’s interesting talking to some people comparing Bitmaker versus RED Academy, versus Brainstation, or Lighthouse, etc.

The challenge for the night was to develop a service for millennials to help them find the perfect roommate and a place for rent. Our group sat down and brainstormed ideas for our product. The first thing was discovered was millennials was too broad for our user base. We wanted to make our user persona more unique. It was when we started figuring out the pain points of the user we noticed financial and occupation status gave our millennial user more depth. We established that our user would be a full time student attending college / university, working a part-time job in Toronto.

After the creation of the ideal user persona, we took time to spin off a wireframe for our mobile product. Thinking in terms of A/B testing, we came up the idea of offering one way of getting search results via a free account. Where as a paid user would get a more detailed result on their roommate profile in a different layout.

After 2 hours, we needed to present our results from the design challenge. It was great to see how everyone tackled the criteria given for the project. It was also amazing to see some groups were able to build quickly a rough prototype. Overall it was great experience. I plan to use the research and brainstorming from this session to flesh out a sample for my user interface portfolio. Here are some of the photos from that night. I look forward to future events. If you interested in joining the meetup group, click on this link.

-JD