World’s Worst – A design game for UX workshops
4 minutes read
Examining what makes an experience truly terrible can tell you an awful lot about what would make an experience truly exceptional. Take my experience with 1-2-3 reg for example. Until about a month ago this website was hosted by 1-2-3 reg. It’s not now because although they’re probably not the world’s worst hosting company, they’re probably not far off…
1-2-3 reg are one of those website hosting companies that lures you by dangling a juicy price on a hook and then screws you over once they’ve caught you in their net. Their site admin is clunky and mind bogglingly hard to use. Hosted site performance is slow and interspersed with an all too frequent helping of internal server errors. Their customer service can only be described as ‘diabolical’, although ‘non-existent’ might also be a contender. If you can get hold of one of their customer service reps (and good luck with that) they’re invariably as much use as a wet suit in the desert. They really do take the concept of ‘self service’ to a whole new level, being either unwilling, or unable to do absolutely anything on your behalf. To cap it all off they frequently suspended the site for getting too much traffic (I kid you not). Of course they didn’t tell me when they did this, instead they simply suspended it so that visitors would see a message that looked like the website was part of a phishing attack. They then took at least a day to restore the service and when I had the audacity to complain pointed out the section of their terms and conditions which allows them to suspend a website whenever they want, and with no warning or notification. Thanks guys.
I now use the vastly superior, and only slightly more expensive SiteGround to host this site, even though I’m now paying for two hosting services because 1-2-3 reg obviously don’t offer any sort of refund for cancelling their service. As painful and frustrating an experience as it has been, at least I’ve learnt a lot about what to look for in a hosting company. As I said, often examining what makes an experience truly terrible can tell you a lot about what would make an experience truly exceptional. This simple premise is what lies at the heart of the ‘World’s worst’ design game, not the worst design game imaginable (although that in itself would make for a good game), but a great little game to get people thinking about what the worst possible experience would be and how to flip this to provide the best possible experience for users.
Introduction to world’s worst
World’s worst, also known as the anti-problem game and reverse it game is a fantastic game for coming up with ideas and for approaching a problem from a different angle. It’s usually played as part of a wider UX workshop and can be a great team building exercise. It’s useful for discussing and identifying important UX design principles and for exploring what makes the difference between delivering a very good, verses a very bad user experience.
What you need
World’s worst is a very simple game to play. All you need are:
- Some willing players – teams of 2 to 7 work best.
- A whiteboard, flip chart or post-it notes for capturing details of the world’s worst experiences.
- A venue – it’s a good idea to get everyone up and out of their seats for the game, especially if you’re going to ask teams to role play the experience.
How to play
World’s worst typically takes about 20-30 minutes to play. It can be played with users, stakeholders or project teams and works best with relatively small teams of 3 – 7 players. To play the game, simply follow these instructions:
- Gather players into teams of 3 – 7 players.
- For each team designate a facilitator to help capture the world’s worst experience and the flipped UX design principles for providing a great experience.
- Introduce the type of experience. For example, what would be the world’s worst experience for booking a flight? What would be the world’s worst experience for eating out at a restaurant?
- Teams should then spend 10-15 minutes capturing ideas for what would make the world’s worst experience – the crazier the better! Teams can sketch ideas, describe ideas or even role play ideas.
- Having captured ideas for the world’s worst experience, teams should flip these around to identify UX design principles that are key for providing a great experience. For example, if the world’s worst flight booking experience involves being randomly allocated a seat, or even no seat at all, then an important factor for providing a great experience would be allowing users to choose where they are seated on the plane.
- Ask teams to share their world’s worst experience and to talk through the implications of this for providing a great experience. A fun way to do this is to ask teams to role play their world’s worst experience.
When to play
World’s worst can be played throughout a project, and is particularly useful early on for coming up with ideas and UX design principles to follow. It can be a very effective team building exercise and a great way to kick off UX design work.
Why it works
First and foremost world’s worst works because it’s a really fun game to play, especially if teams are asked to bring this experience to live through role play. There is something very enjoyable about coming up with the worst possible experience and it’s an opportunity for players to really use their imagination.
If you want to have a go at using the world’s worst design game, you’ll find a link to a handy 1-page print out for players to use.
World’s worst is just one of a number of design games that I’ve written about. You might also want to take a look at these other design games:
- A guide to sketch storming – a design game for ideation
- A guide to priority poker
- How to play the ‘Buy a feature’ design game
- WOW, HOW, NOW, POW design game
Also take a look at these other websites outlining lots of design and innovation games to try:
- Gamestoring – a toolkit for innovators, rule-breakers and changemakers
- Design games from UX Mastery and Donna Spencer
- Conteneo frameworks