UX Lead with a passion for all things UX, IA, Product Design, and Music


Mozilla + Design Gym Workshop #1



Mozilla has teamed up with The Design Gym to hold a 3-part workshop here in NYC. What I think is interesting about The Design Gym process is that it's sort of a hybrid of a design workshop and community discussion since the audience present has some relation to the problem we are trying to solve. We had a great 1st workshop and I'm looking forward to getting farther through the process. 

Workshop #1: Kick-off & Examine 

Workshop #2: Understand 

Workshop #3: Ideate 

Problem Overview

We're using the following problem as the subject of the workshop: We are working on a redesign of the Mozilla Developer Network. We have an excess of valuable content, code demos, code challenges, a large and dedicated community, and a common goal of supporting the open web. We also can offer content and participation on a global scale, in many languages. At MDN you can be at the beginner level and learn from the community or contribute your skills to Mozilla. The key issue is that this content is currently presented and organized without the community in mind and the way they would use MDN as a resource. Developers & Designers are the MDN community, and the experience should reflect how they would use it.

Goal of Workshop #1

  • Introduce the Design Gym teams to MDN's challenge / brief
  • Gather a wide array of data from relevant users

Experts & Participants

We held our first workshop at TechStars where we welcomed TechStars members to join us. Among them were technical and creative founders, as well as former Google developers. We had a great mix of beginners, self-taught experts, and designers who would love to improve their coding skills.

Thanks to MovelineMarquee, and TechStars

Excerpts from: quotes and ideas

"Part of learning how to code is just learning how to learn. "

"Efficiency and good use of time is key. I trust Stack Overflow with this."

"I need to trust the community I am going to and spending time at."

"I make a conscious decision between just looking all the time for a coding answer and trying to remember." (He decides when to use Google vs. trying to keep it all in his brain for recall)

" I would get to MDN and leave if I came to the homepage.There is no on-boarding. I need to be helped immediately or told how I can contribute."

"Can we be the Dribbble for code?" (similar to a GitHub profile, but with the demos you've posted and list of what you've contributed to)

"Collaboration is so easy for the advanced user. It's very difficult for the novice user."

Excerpts from: take-aways

  • There is tension between providing knowledge for knowledge sake (i.e.: a glossary of terms) and knowledge for specific problems. (i.e.: "how to solve X") 

  • We need a method of measuring our trustworthiness. (see: Stack Overflow)

  • We saw a mix of those who want to start with fundamentals and definitions and build from there and those who want to start with a specific problem to solve. In this group of participants, the former is method of choice from those that are developers as their key roll and the latter came from the visual learners in the room.

  • Participants wished there was a syllabus or a timeline from novice to advanced when learning something new, so that there was some context of a typical learning progression. 

  • There was a discussion about how as a developer you need to "game the system" in order to find the answer to your coding issues. You have to figure out how to navigate through search results, wikis, and forums to answer your questions. It's hard to harness that and is part of the learning curve for beginners (part of "learning how to learn").

  • There was a general theme of wanting to be self-sufficient, but enjoying collaboration and learning from each other - this doesn't necessarily have to happen with an in-person community. 

  • There should be constant cues to be involved and collaborate throughout MDN. (i.e.: When you are watching the Demos, there is no call to action to create your own or edit a wiki)

  • More guidance needed from homepage for the different types of users coming to the site, from methods of learning to methods of contributing and collaborating.

Questions coming out of Workshop #1

  • What is the most common task at MDN right now?

  • How do the code challenges bring developers back? (email, promotion on MDN, promotion elsewhere)

  • How did current MDN members first learn about MDN?