User Research & Session Zero

Jul 20, 2019D&D, UX

A User Experience Designer might be making some incredible design decisions, but are they impactful to the end users’ experience?

A Dungeon Master might be writing an amazing campaign, but is it one their players want to engage with?

D&D Session Zero

Dungeons & Dragons campaigns last many, many games which often span years. Before a Dungeon Master starts the first game, before they even begin planning the first session, a good Dungeon Master will have a Session Zero with their players. Session Zero involves the players and Dungeon Master getting together for a few hours, creating their characters and going over game specifics.

There is much diversity within D&D players, and like anything in life, different people like different things. Session Zero exists to get a feel for the players, what type of game they are interested in (fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk), and what they expect to get out of the campaign. This research ensures the Dungeon Master knows how to plan the most effective campaign, write the most effective stories, and keep players engaged.

UX User Research

Much like a good Dungeon Master, a good User Experience Designer will have their own Session Zero before they begin writing, designing & documenting anything for any project. This “Session Zero” is the backbone of UX design, called User Research. User Research is a necessity to effective design, allowing UX professionals to gather real data about the end user.

The majority of decision making processes in successful UX Design are based upon the data gathered during User Research.

Identify Problems, Not Symptoms

A user disliking your service or product is a symptom. A player disliking the D&D campaign you have designed is a symptom. A Session Zero and User Research allow us to identify early on in the design process what the actual user needs are. Solving these actual user needs, solving real problems will prevent symptoms later down the line.

An early success indicator shared between Dungeon Masters and UX Designers is the ability to identify problems early on. The best way to effectively find the correct problems to solve is through early interactions with users & players. Without User Research & Session Zeroes, we’re all simply designing in the dark.

You might be solving a problem, but is it the right problem?