When it comes to a website or app redesign it seems that everyone has an opinion but how do you capture that input and turn it into something valuable? Enter the design studio workshop. A brainstorming and idea session that allows you to gather feedback and have structured conversations about layout and user flows in a time-boxed setting.
In short a design studio is a method of generating and iterating on multiple ideas quickly through sketching, iteration, and critique. The process follows a create, pitch, critique, iterate loop.
Typical Whiteboarding and Brainstorms Easily Get Derailed
While critique is an important part of the process, we’ve all been in that meeting with the devil’s advocate kills any idea as soon as they are said. Killing any further collaboration. And typical whiteboarding session ends up with one person leading and everyone else watching.
The design studio process gives everyone — no matter their background — a voice and enables them to have diverse ideas that explore a wide range of possibilities.
Design Studio Flow
During this step, all the participants independently create multiple user flows or screen layouts, depending on the objective of the workshop.
The goal here is to create ideas that are distinctively different — exploring many possible solutions. Typically, participants fold their paper into multiple sections each representing a screen. During the set time limit multiple ideas are stretched. The goal here is quantity, not quality. Furthermore, the time limit and quantity forces participants no self-censor and allows ideas to flow naturally.
Once time is up and each participant has sketched their ideas each person pitches their idea to the group.
During this step, the group shares their rationale behind their sketches while others ask questions for clarification. You will likely see multiple themes during this step.
Next, the group can discuss what they think is a strong idea and what could be improved upon. This gives everyone a voice and allows ideas to be presented and expanded upon before they are dismissed. It opens a discussion about the benefits of certain UI patterns and specific flows.
After all the ideas have been presented and have been critiqued start the process over with new information.
This gives participants the chance to improve on their ideas and steal strong concepts from others. The conversations may have sparked new ideas or provided new guidance.
Benefits of conducting a design studio workshop:
- Allows you to collect ideas and feedback from multiple stakeholders
- Incorporates differing perspectives
- Creates a feeling of shared ownership
- Rapids allows for ideas to be shared
- Easy to capture and archive ideas
Running a Design Studio Workshop
Warming up: If your group is new to design studios or if this is the first time they are working together it might be worthwhile to do a warm-up session. Have the participants fold their paper into four quadrants and give them two minutes to draw four random shapes or objects. For example, you might have them draw a basketball, a horse, a house, and a bike. Often people are nervous about showing their drawing to others. Given the short time frame, it forces people to focus on completion and not self-censorship. It also shows that no-one is great at sketching in short time frames.
Lay out what needs to be solved: Next brief the participants on what problem needs to be solved. Discussing personas, insights, and motivations that are relevant to the topic being discussed
Round 1: Have the team divide a sheet of paper into six boxes. Set a timer for five minutes and encouraging them to fill the boxes with six different ideas before time runs out. Encourage them to explore a wide range of options. And continue the pitch, critique process.
Round 2: This is where people start to iterate. Have the group divide a sheet of paper into four boxes and with five minutes solve the problem again based on everyone else’s ideas and the feedback they received. Here you will start to see ideas combine. Again, once the time is out, follow the pitch, critique process.
Coverage: Lastly, as a group, have the participants whiteboard one master idea based on previous sketches and group consensus.
Your organization employees people from diverse and valuable skill sets. Design studio workshops allow designers, developers, brand managers, researchers, and others to come together and share insights that they mutually believe effectively solves the problem. Having explored multiple solutions and being apart of the solution there will be buy-in and ownership from multiple parties. From here everyone can move forward comfortable in the final solution.