Design Jam Reading, 29th October 2011.

Design Jam Reading, 29th October 2011. 
The Jelly ArtPad, Reading

Design Jams are one day design sessions, during which people team up to tackle engaging User Experience (UX) challenges. Similar to developer ‘hackdays’, they aim to get designers together to learn and collaborate with each other while working on actual problems. The sessions champion open-source thinking & sharing and are non-profit, run by local volunteers.

On the 29th of October, Reading had its first Design Jam at the Jelly ArtPad in the Market Place in the centre of Reading. Around 30 people were in attendance and a fun and informative day was had by all.

The day started early (for a Saturday) at 9am.  While people registered and had breakfast, each person filled out a card about themselves which contained brief information about their skills and what they’d like to get out of the day.  The skill sets were then distributed between the 5 teams and the challenge was announced:

"Devise a way to improve communication between schools, parents and students."

After this, the teams had an hour and a half to discuss the challenge and explore the possibilities of what they could do.  This was followed by a 3 minute presentation by each team to the rest of the design jammers detailing what the challenge meant to them.  For the next hour and a half before lunch, the teams refined the problem they were going to solve, preparing for the afternoon when they would get into the throws of designing a solution!

We then all had a very plentiful lunch before launching head first into the design phase where teams used paper, pens, walls, flip charts, sticky notes, Sellotape, scissors and coloured pencils to start wire framing, sketching and prototyping their ideas!  Mid afternoon came, we stopped for tea and had another 3 minute presentation from each team. The last half of the afternoon allowed the teams to finish up their ideas before the final presentations where each team presented their very interesting (and all very different) solutions.

Throughout the day, the organisers were supported by our two mentors for the day; Rachael and Dave.  They were an invaluable asset to the teams in helping them brainstorm ideas and to think around problems:

"It was great to see such a diverse mix of people all passionate about design coming together and solving a problem, and having a great time doing so.  Ideas were original, interesting, abundant, and fuelled great debate, and I think I can speak for the other mentors when I say we had as much fun helping the teams shape their ideas as they had generating them!"
– Dave Crawford, Microsoft, @thatUXguy

"Design Jam Reading was such fun as a mentor. The teams were made up of people who came from a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience and it was a real privilege to be able to drop in on these teams and see them turn into real teams, solving real problems over the course of a day."
– Rachel Andrew, @rachelandrew

After the presentations were done, we all trundled to the pub where the conversations continued!

Everyone had a great day and we are all looking forward to organising Reading Design Jam 2!  If you are interested in coming along, being a mentor or helping organise the next event, then please follow us on Twitter at @DesignJamRDG.

Chris Tingley.

Thanks again to our sponsors: DataSift, Lift, text matters, SocialOptic, Conjure and De Buren.
Additional thanks to: Jelly, for letting us use their space and Graze & Picnic for lunch
You can find the organisers on twitter: Jo Lankester, Jim Anning & Chris Tingley.
More information on Design Jams can be found at www.designjams.org

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jelly note:

Many thanks to the Design Jam Team from jelly as they generously made a donation towards our workshop programme – a fitting project, we will be making explorer goggles and lanterns all weekend. Pictures too follow!

 

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