Design Jam Oxford #1: Time To Wrap-Up A Fast & Furious Jam Session

A guest post by, Al Power one of the local champions from Design Jam Oxford.

The first Oxford Design Jam was held on the 14th May, and two weeks later I thought I would collate some of our thoughts now it’s all over. My two co-organisers, Mariana Mota and James Morris were both Design Jam alumni, so had a good idea what it was all about, but for me it was a totally new experience.

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The Build-Up

As organisers all the hard work was done up front really, and on the day we spent a lot of time making sure things were running smoothly, and moving from group to group photographing, videoing and general assisting to move things along.

Luckily the support from all the previous Design Jam organisers running up to the day was stellar, and after reading through several blog posts, wiki articles and chatting with previous organisers over Skype, I really felt like I was getting to understand the concept well and really focused on the planning side of it.


We were kindly supported by Oxford University Computing Services, two local companies — White October and Incuna, the Mozilla Labs Concept Series and not to mention great mentors.

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All in all it was a really successful day, with a total of 47 out of 50 people registered, attending. We ended the day with ten teams worth of output! That’s a stellar effort — considering the short, intense time-frame:

  1. Thumbs Up
  2. Raspberry Jam
  3. Team Wibble
  4. The Non-Commuters
  5. FiveFour
  6. CycleConvoy
  7. Green Kangaroo
  8. We Heart Commuting
  9. No!
  10. Brains on a Train

For more details of the day, be sure to check out the:

Presentations from Team ‘We Heart Commuting’


Having taken a look at feedback from attendees as well as evaluating our own thoughts, there are a few things worth highlighting…

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The Good

Things we thought went well:

  • having more than one organiser – we had three and we assigned pre-event tasks out which worked out really well;
  • tightly time-boxing the day – we projected the task times up on the wall and were ruthless in keeping to them – this kept the energy levels up and people seemed to work well with constant awareness of the time constraints;
  • actively checking people could still come through emails/twitter – we made several attendee changes right up until the night before, and because we put constant reminders out, those who couldn’t attend let us know earlier and we were able to substitute;
  • colour coding people by roles – when creating attendee index cards for the teams we gave each role (dev, designer, ux person, project manager etc) a coloured dot, and this allowed us to easily see whether certain teams were evenly balanced, and shift people around;
  • running through the topic with the mentors the week beforehand – getting the mentors involved before the day really helped fine tune the topic, and also gave them some more time to think about it, rather than coming to it fresh on the day.

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The Not So Good

Things to improve for next time:

  • do both sets of presentations in the same order (makes editing video way easier);
  • figure out a way to encourage better recording of ideas, whether on the wiki or some other medium (due to time constraints, people were reluctant to spend much time documenting their ideas);
  • maybe provide a list of UX tools for less experienced groups to choose from if they needed a kickstart.

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Q: Would we do it again? A: Heck, yes!

All in all I thought it was an amazingly inspiring and successful day, and was well worth the efforts in planning (big thanks to my co-organisers James and Mariana). This was echoed in some of the feedback we got: ‘it was a very inspiring day’, ‘Intense but fun..a great day’, ‘makes me want to build things’, ‘most inspiring weekend I’ve ever had’, and ‘designjamoxford was really cool, gets better every time’.


You can keep up to date with the latest news and updates from other global Design Jams by following the #DesignJam hashtag on Twitter

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What’s It All About

It is a one-day design session, during which people will team up to tackle an engaging User Experience challenge. Similar to developer ‘hackdays’ the aim is to get enthusiastic local UX professionals, designers, and developers from both local technology and university sectors together to learn and collaborate with each other while working on a design problem. Check out past Design Jams.

Want to get involved? Know someone?

We’re actively on the lookout for more local champions around the globe!

If you’d like to run your own Design Jam please show your interest by adding your details to the Design Jam wiki and emailing cyberdees[at]mozilla[dot]com.

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