How to recreate a Shadowing or Fly on the Wall workshop?

Understanding user behavior in their natural environment is essential in UX design. Shadowing and Fly on the Wall workshops are two powerful techniques for gaining these insights. However, knowing how to convey these observations in a clear and impactful way to customers is just as crucial. This article explores how you can organize and present this information effectively.

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Definitions of the Fly on the Wall and Shadowing workshops

Before diving into the details of the restitution, it is important to clearly define what fly on the wall and shadowing workshops are, and to highlight their differences.

Le Shadowing consists of following a user closely, observing and noting their actions and interactions with a solution or product. This method aims to understand in detail the direct actions of the user, providing a precise vision of the way in which they use the solution in their daily life. It captures the user's specific gestures, choices and behaviors as they interact directly with the product or service.

Le Fly on the wall, on the other hand, involves a more distant and passive observation. This technique consists of observing the user in their natural environment without intervening, in order to capture more natural and spontaneous behaviors. It focuses on observing the user's interactions not only with the solution, but also with their overall environment. This includes behaviors and reactions that could be influenced by factors external to the solution itself.

The differences between these two workshops lie mainly in the level of proximity and intervention of the observer. THE shadowing is a close and interactive observation, focusing on the user's direct actions with the solution. In contrast, the Fly on the wall is a passive observation, aiming to understand the natural behavior of the user in a broader context, including interactions with their environment.


Why return?

Reporting the results of these workshops is essential for several reasons:

  • Improve communication : Sharing results in a clear, visual and understandable way helps align the vision between you and the client, ensuring better mutual understanding.
  • Highlight added value : showing the impact of your work and the insights you were able to discover demonstrates the added value of your approach and justifies the efforts invested.
  • Strengthen relationships and facilitate collaboration : Good feedback can build trust between you and the client, encouraging future collaborations and strengthening professional relationships.
  • Documentation and analysis : A well-structured feedback serves as a reference for future decisions, helping to document the process and providing a solid basis for subsequent analyses.
  • Involve the customer : giving the customer the opportunity to express themselves, share their concerns and ideas promotes an optimal user experience and creates a feeling of collaboration and involvement in the process.


How to restore a Fly on the Wall and a Shadowing?

After much research, I found that there is no standard method for rendering a Fly on the Wall or Shadowing. A simple PowerPoint did not seem sufficient to me in terms of impact. This is why I developed an approach that I called the “Primo Experience Map”.


Primo Experience Map

This method is inspired by the concepts of the Experience Map, retaining several key elements.

The context 

Defining context is essential to situate and understand how the application or solution is used within its full ecosystem. This includes :

  • User activities.
  • User profile: 
    • Their identity and their role in using the solution.
    • Their usual behaviors and interactions with the tool or product.
    • The tone of their communication, whether professional, friendly or otherwise.
  • User goals (what they are looking for).
  • The environment in which they use the solution.
  • Interactions between users and the solution.

The steps observed

It is crucial to retrace all the user journeys observed during the workshop. This allows you to visualize the different steps and sequences that users go through when interacting with the solution.

The actions

Detail not only direct interactions with the solution, but also interactions with the environment. For example, watch how a user uses Instagram during a phone call, then switches to the calculator while continuing the discussion. Fly on the Wall focuses on these surrounding interactions, unlike Shadowing which focuses on the direct actions of the user.

The verbatims used

Collect speech excerpts to understand the user's language and world. It is important to capture their feelings, impressions and needs expressed naturally. Showing empathy is essential to fully understanding the user experience.

The idea of ​​rendering in the form of an Experience Map makes it possible to present the results of the observation in a visual and structured manner, thus offering an in-depth understanding of the user experience. Using this approach, you can better communicate insights (discovered during Fly on the Wall and/or Shadowing), thereby facilitating decision-making and improving UI design.


Formalization of Restitution

To formalize this restitution, I created a map similar to that of the Experience Map. This visual representation provides a structured and detailed overview of all observations and insights collected during the Fly on the Wall and Shadowing workshops.

Use clear visuals

Integrate diagrams, illustrated user journeys and images to enrich the report. These visual elements allow for better understanding and capture the customer's attention more effectively.

Structure information logically

Organize the data coherently by following the steps previously described. This structuring facilitates navigation through observations and insights, thus providing a fluid and understandable presentation.

Stay concise and relevant

Highlight the key points and insights that are most meaningful to the customer. Avoid unnecessary information that could dilute the main message. A concise and relevant presentation reinforces the impact of the restitution and allows the client to concentrate on the most crucial aspects of the analysis.

For example, consider a hypothetical redesign internal software used by in-store opticians to facilitate their daily tasks and the management of customer files. Applying the concept of the Primo Experience Map, we could create a similar visual map to highlight the observations and insights collected during the Fly on the Wall and Shadowing workshops. This approach would allow us to present in a clear and structured manner the challenges encountered by opticians in their complete environment and in their daily use of the software, while identifying areas for improvement for a more fluid and efficient user experience.



Rendering a Shadowing or Fly on the Wall is a crucial step in the UX design process. Understanding user behavior in their natural environment is essential to designing products and services that truly meet their needs.

Using techniques such as the Primo Experience Map, you can organize and present observations and insights in a clear, visual and structured way. This aligns the vision between you and the client, highlights the added value of your work and builds trust and collaboration.

By remaining concise and relevant in your feedback, you ensure that the client focuses on the key points and the most significant insights, thus facilitating decision-making and continuous improvement of the user experience.

Ultimately, good feedback helps create products and services that provide an optimal user experience, meeting user needs and expectations in an efficient and relevant way.



Florianne Nollet, UX-UI designer consultant at UX-Republic