User Experience Kata

Kata (Japanese symbol)
‘Model’ or ‘Pattern'; A series of positions and movements performed as an exercise.

Why (do it)

How do you get to be amazing at doing something? Read a book? Ask a friend how it’s done? Go to a lecture?
Having theoretical knowledge and natural ability can be part of the equation, but there is rarely any substitution for practice (at least until that learning program from The Matrix becomes a reality…).

What (is it)

Katas are a series of short exercises designed to practice tools and techniques. In this context they are very specifically *not* about solution generation; they are about practicing the techniques that you can use in your day-to-day as a UX partitioner.

Katas are intended to allow quick practice in a safe environment; to allow you to become familiar with a technique before you use it ‘live’.

Katas are intended to give you the chance to practice frequently; without having to wait for that part of the project where you might get a chance to use a technique.

Katas are intended to build up your mental library; somewhere you can visit when you have a project situation and you need some ideas for techniques that can affect the best results.

It’s about the journey, not the goal

I’m going to re-state this a number of times as it’s particularly important *not* to build up a selection of pre-defined solution responses. If you take your kata’s to solution then there is a danger of becoming stale. It’s not about getting a *right* solution; it’s all about practicing how you can get there.

Who (to involve)

I will split the katas into team and individual exercises. That’s not to say that either one can’t be adapted to the other (most of the time) but even individual katas are best performed either in pairs of by comparing notes later.

No rules (apart from the rules)

Each kata will come with a few execution guidelines, and often a suggested time limit. The only real rules are:
Remember that it’s about having a bit of fun doing what you love – UXD.
Consider keeping a journal of your practice.
It’s not a test, its practice.
Stay away from solutions.

The last word

I’ll try to put new katas on this site regularly – as I write up the ones that I have in a format that a human *might* have a chance of understanding. I hope that they prove to be a useful concept.

… to get going…

Kata 1: Reverse wireframing

Category: Design
Type: Individual
Materials: Paper & pen or Balsamiq-type tool
Suggested time limit: 15 to 20 minutes
Overview:
Pick a website, mobile app or desktop application.
Pick a page.
Sketch it as a wireframe; focus on control representation (minimum to convey the idea).
(optional) Augment your sketch with interaction indications.
Try to only take a couple of minutes per page, and do three or four pages.
Briefly review whether or not you conveyed the impression of the design.