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Making your product design collaborative

A framework for ideation workshop

At PrestaShop, our product team is highly inspired by Lean UX and design thinking. We build our own methodologies with one strong intention: staying collaborative.

When to do this workshop?

This workshop is made to find/build a solution to improve your product. You need to complete a problem discovery first. It is important for you to know:

  • Who are the final users
  • What are their real needs
  • What are theirs habits and behaviours
  • What are the product strategy and business constraints
  • What are the KPI of this solution you’ll build
  • The time and costs constraints

Who has to be in?

  • The product manager
  • The product designer
  • At least one of the developer who will work on the project

Before starting

Define a scope

Most of the time, the product manager and the designer identify a panel of problems to solve. Here, you will have to choose one solution to work on during the workshop, because you cannot solve everything at the same time in only one ideation workshop. So it is important to define the solution you want to focus on during the exercise and also what you don’t want to focus on for now.

Provide some background

You’ll have to start this workshop by giving some background to your team so that they’re aligned with your knowledge. Benchmark, surveys, datas, users researches, etc. You’ll have to share in a few minutes the essential with the team. Prepare an efficient presentation: pin your benchmark on the wall, display visual data, make your persona sexy!

Invite the participants

Participants should be your entire team if you are less than 5–6 people. If you are bigger, at least the product manager, a designer, and one or two developer(s) who will work on the project should participate.The product manager has the business and product vision knowledge, the designer will care about global user experience and emotions, and the developers will be able to respond about the technical feasibility. And all together will build a full user experience.

Logistics

  • Send invites to your participants at least one week in advance.
  • Book a room for the workshop with a paper/whiteboard and material to share your background information.
  • Prepare sheets of paper, colored felts and stickers

Step 1 | Alignment — 20min

This step is crucial if you want an efficient solution idea generation.

  • State explicitly the problem(s) you’re trying to solve.
  • Share your knowledge (personas, survey results, data, KPIs, customer journeys, experience map, etc.).
  • Make it efficient and visual. Storytelling can help. Visuals on the wall can help too.
  • Let your team ask all the questions they have on the subject. It is a sharing moment, so it should be dynamic.
  • Share a benchmark of solutions. It will help people to start ideation.

Step 2 | Sketching ideas — 10min

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Step 3 | Vote — 5min

Once everyone is done with sketching, give a set of 3 or 4 stickers to each participant.

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Step 4 | Define the ultimate solution — 20min

After voting, the designer (or any other volunteer) will make a sketch on the paper/whiteboard of the ultimate solution, mixing the group ideas. This ultimate flow/wireframe should materialise the group’s vision.

Traps to avoid

Forcing someone to participate

People should be volunteers. The success of the workshop is based on the emulation that the group will generate. Forcing people can ruin the exercise because someone angry or negative will impact the entire group.

Too much information during the alignment step

Giving too much information can create confusion. This step serves as an onboarding: it makes sure all participants are on the same page. Go straight to the point and give visual elements, as they are easier to memorise.

Endless debates

The workshop should be lean, quick, and efficient. It is not a meeting. Endless debates are unproductive and exhausting. During the ultimate step, when you define the ultimate solution, if there is an unsolvable disagreement, the product manager is allowed to stop the debate and make a decision. But she has to explain clearly to the group why she made this choice and how she will check that it was the good one.

Trying to solve everything at once

It is simply not possible. If you don’t define a clear scope and try to solve everything at once, your workshop will last 3 hours and no one will follow you the next time you’ll organize another workshop.

No timekeeping

Timekeeping is the key for an efficient and dynamic workshop. You can ask anyone in the group to be the timekeeper. Set it as a game rule from the start.

Forgetting to be lean

Ideation workshop is part of lean methodologies. It is made to focus on the essential. Think of your ideas in scalable minimum viable products*. It will prevent you from losing time on useless-nice-to-have-sexy-features which could generate endless debates and consume energy for nothing.

Benefits

  • 1 team / 1 vision
    Product design becomes collaborative and the team will have the same product vision.
  • Increased UX expectation
    If everybody in the team is involved in product design, then UX becomes the entire team’s responsibility.
  • Better understanding between teammates
    This workshop allows teammates to build a solution together. It will improve the team internal communication by highlighting each person’s context and constraints, bringing more understanding in the end.
  • Time saving
    This exercise also avoids useless iterations, endless debates, conflicts and roundtrips. You build one solution in one time together.

It’s your turn!

Now you have the methodology, it’s your turn to improve it. Feel free to test, transform and reappropriate this framework and give us your feedbacks!

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