UXSA 2024 Cape Town Workshops: A Day of Learning and Connection

Attending UXSA was a refreshing change of pace from the daily work-from-home routine many of us find ourselves in these days. Nadia and I (Wouter) attended this year's day of workshops in Cape Town at the Kelvin Grove Lifestyle & Sports Club. We had a beautiful day of networking and learning nestled in the shadow of the Table Mountain range amongst the Newlands forests.

It’s always great to get out of the house and interact with like-minded people who work in the UX design and software development industry. Many attendees mentioned that their primary reason for coming was to meet and connect with others, with the workshop's skills development being a close second. This sentiment set a positive and collaborative tone for the day.

Aalia Coovadia's Workshop: Research and Reading Raw Data

Aalia Coovadia led a workshop focused on research and the importance of being able to read and assess the raw data you collect during a research project. The session was filled with fun and interactive exercises that taught us how to gather insights by asking good questions, interrogating data points, and grouping data to form themes. The activities were designed to be engaging and educational, making it easy to connect with new people while learning valuable skills. 

We began with an interview-style game aimed at discovering personal preferences. I was the subject of the day's first exercise. Initially, the questions were vague, leading to some interesting but unstructured insights. We then repeated the exercise with someone else as the subject and used questions provided by Aalia, which were phrased more conversationally, leading to better and more meaningful insights. In our final round, groups would ask one-person questions, but this time we had a research goal that gave us clear direction, resulting in even richer data.

The session concluded with a theming exercise where we used sticky notes to organise the entire group's data into themes. This hands-on approach solidified the day's lessons and provided a visual representation of our collective insights.

What I learned in Aalia’s workshop:

  • Assumptions can misdirect you: Approaching each interaction without preconceived notions is crucial to ensure accurate and unbiased research findings.
  • Open-ended questions are more effective: They don't lead the individual in any specific direction, allowing for more genuine responses.
  • Encourage storytelling: Asking someone to tell a story provides richer, more detailed information for research.

I asked Nadia what she enjoyed the most about Aalia’s workshop:

"I appreciated realising that I understand these concepts much better than I used to. It was a great recap and refresher, especially for someone like me who comes from a UX background."

What Nadia learned in Aalia’s workshop:

  • Building rapport with a participant is crucial: It helps make the participant feel at ease. During the mock interview session, not receiving an introduction made me feel as if I was placed under a microscope, rather than being part of a conversation.
  • Understanding the influence of questions: The way we ask questions can significantly influence the answers we receive.
  • Structuring the conversation: Your questions should build upon one another to help participants develop their story and provide relevant information that aligns with your research goals.
  • Never presume: If you are unsure what the participant meant, follow up with probing questions and try to uncover the underlying reasons or motivations (the "why").

Gordon Angus's Workshop: Rapid Prototyping

After lunch, we dived into Gordon’s workshop. He introduced us to the Lean Business Canvas, a tool his company used to help founders prototype their ideas rapidly before investing too much time and money. Godron explained how he and his partners used the lean canvas to help their clients understand the scope of their project and align on the goals. The concept of a “Minimum Lovable Product” (MLP) was particularly insightful, emphasising the importance of creating something users will love, even in its simplest form. He then walked us through various usability heuristics that are crucial when designing simple-to-use interfaces. 

Our table closed out the day by completing a Lean Business Canvas for Airbnb, which we then compared to the actual current Business Canvas to see how close we could get to theirs.

What I learned in Gordon’s workshop:

  • Rapid prototyping: It's not just about quickly building a proof of concept or clickable prototype; it's about aligning on goals and identifying the value and merit of an idea before proceeding.
  • Heuristic guidelines: Following basic heuristic guidelines can resolve much of the complexity in product design.
  • Client relationships: Building a reputation with clients is about demonstrating value and solving their problems, rather than impressing them with unnecessary features.

What did you learn from Gordon’s workshop Nadia?

"I loved how Gordon started the workshop by emphasising that the key to engaging with your client is not about showing off your skills, team, or accomplishments. Instead, it’s about making the client the hero: you are there to support them, create impact, and help them achieve their goals. You need to be your client's support system.

He also highlighted the importance of giving your client the full toolkit to build and continue the project without you. This approach ensures that the relationship doesn't end with the client being reliant on you. Instead, it empowers your client and fosters valuable, sustainable relationships."


The UXSA 2024 Cape Town Workshop was a day well spent. It provided a perfect blend of social interaction and skill development, leaving us inspired and equipped with new tools and techniques to apply in our work. Connecting with industry peers and learning from experts like Aalia and Gordon was invaluable. We look forward to attending more such events and continuing to grow our knowledge and network in the UX design and software development community.

About the author

Wouter Jacobs profile picture

Wouter Jacobs

Wouter Jacobs

I mostly do UX design. However, when I'm not doing that I'm reading or listening to interesting topics, trying to get fit, walking my dogs, gaming on my PC or chilling with my fiancé Read more from Wouter Jacobs...
Nadia Ellis profile picture

Nadia Ellis

Nadia Ellis

I've always been a designer and natural creator, originally coming from a background in architecture, I strive for growth with a learning mindset. Read more from Nadia Ellis...