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Are you someone whose sprints are completed by moving merely a muscle or two? Are you someone who is completely sedentary whilst being agile?
If you’ve answered in the affirmative, it’s pretty clear that your world functions on a slightly different plane. Being a part of the UX design community, the way you perceive and process things is far from regular – something that can make up a whole new blog for a whole different day. For now, we persist with the topic at hand.
Since ‘tis the most beautiful time of year, with it comes the season of social gatherings. The holiday season is upon us, and for someone whose job description states “creating beautiful, frictionless user experiences”, planning a party must come as second nature. Let’s be honest – aren’t the products you design quite similar to gatherings anyway?
Picture this – you have a venue (a discovered need), you thoroughly consider what decor and themes people would enjoy (UX research and synthesis), you then design the appropriate decor (the UI) and have people over to see how they feel about it (user testing). And you keep doing this iteratively so that people simply don’t want to leave your party (the app/website).
Now, can you come up with a reasonable explanation for not doing this IRL?
4 UX skills to help you plan the perfect party
Step 1: Survey the guests = User research
Any designer worth their salt knows that creating a good product (in this case a good party) always begins with user research. So, who are your users in this scenario? Your co-workers, friends, family, neighbors, and others in your circle, or those outside it that you’re looking to lure in. A big part of your user research will go into understanding these potential invitees (users) and what would they deem ‘enjoyable’.
Going about running research tests on these users will not be easy, but it does promise to be interesting. As tempting as it may seem to plan this party based on your assumptions (because you think you know your users so well, don’t you?), stop right there. Remember what they taught you in UX research 101? You art not thy user!
So off you go pushing questions on potential party themes, menus, and activities in your casual conversations with your users.
“Kim Kardashian-style ghostly white vs Melania’s red rampage. Who wins?”
“Ugly sweater contests in Christmas parties – thoughts?”
As part of your research, it is important to send out an email or text asking about dietary restrictions or preferences. If a sensible potluck party is on your mind, create a spreadsheet for people to add what they’ll be bringing.
In all honesty, make sure to have frank chats with your invitees to ensure that your little soiree would be fun for everyone. User data is what makes you one invincible party planner, so use it wisely. The bottom line is to be empathetic to the needs of your guests all the way.
Step 2: Party schedule = Mapping user flows
Now that you’re armed with user research deets, it’s time to plan the actual party, a.k.a, mapping the user flow.
There is always a timeline of events even for the most casual of get-togethers. It goes,
- Arrival of guests.
- Chit chat + activities.
- Appetizers and drinks go round.
- Main meal is served.
- Some more games and conversations.
- Guests leave.
Now it is up to you to enhance this user flow with customizations that you have planned. You may want to mix it up with games and food, or deploy drink-based games – the floor is open to all your experiments.
Step 3: Hosting the party = Designing the product
With the guest list and the rough plan in place, it is time for execution! This is the time to shop for supplies in terms of decor, games, and food. So, get cooking and cleaning and setting the stage for your soiree. When the time comes, get into your designated outfit and do what you want to calm down those nerves (you know what works best for you here).
Here’s a tiny but mighty tip to make sure you don’t get sucked into the black hole that is “what if this fails”. Well, we’re UX practitioners, and failures are our stepping stones to success. Just like there’s no such thing as a perfectly finished product, the perfect party is a pure myth.
Consider this part as you do with prototyping in UX design parlance, where you’re trying out different features and elements to see which works best. Look at it as a prototype-test-prototype run for all future parties you’ll be throwing. This way you’re sure to gain some valuable lessons on what to and what not to do.
Step 4: After-party chitchat = User testing
Having bid farewell to the last of your guests, it’s time to put your feet up and relax. But the designer in you won’t let that happen. Soon enough, your mind is likely to shift to feedback mode. Did they enjoy the spread? Did the music match the mood? How about the decor?
Without sounding too overbearing, you can ask your guests their thoughts about the gathering. User feedback is the biggest source of learning there is, and it will go a long way in helping you sharpen your skills as a party host.
Whenever you source party tips from designers, rest assured that they’ll only share stuff that comes from experience and testing. In fact, it is safe to say that with such deep insights into human behavior, UX designers make excellent party planners as well. Hope you enjoyed this party planning guide and made good use of it in this holiday season. Do share your own party planning tips with us in the comments section below!