UX workshops are conducted to solve problems and make informed decisions that enable progress on a particular challenge – always unique to each client and their product. At DGI, we embrace the fact that every client brings a new challenge to the table and as designers, we should deliver a solution that caters not only to the customers of our clients but also to their business. These workshops also create a trust bond between our design teams and the client. These workshops also align the entire extended team (client + design team), helping everyone share the same perspective on the project. The workshops I have participated in were collaborative sessions ranging from 4 hours to 2 days.
Here are some of the different workshops that I have facilitated:
So, when do we hold a workshop? We have conducted workshops at different stages of the project timeline depending on both the involvement of our and the client’s team were involved and, most importantly, the complexity of vision and knowledge of the roadmap.
The graph below illustrates the various different UX workshop types ordered according to the phase of the project it is best suited for.
Okay, we know the kinds of workshops and when to host them. Let’s talk about how to prepare for a workshop. align and educate the team members about the client, product, and the specific project. There are 3 steps to cover before any workshop:
As a facilitator, you will need to be able to listen, adapt and remain as objective as possible during the workshop (Don’t worry, it takes a while to get a hang of this!). You will also be speaking often and leading the group, so make sure to let everyone have their say and not just push your team’s agenda.
It’s your responsibility to make sure that the time spent in activities or exercises is as productive as possible for the participants — clients, stakeholders, and other team members —and generates the insights needed to move forward. Your role is to monitor progress continually and make sure the workshop stays on schedule. If an exercise is slotted for three minutes, it’s your job as the facilitator to enforce that.
To ensure that your participants get the most out of the workshop, prepare your presentation describing each activity in detail.
Now that you are prepared with your workshop presentation and have all the activities and exercises planned, time to get ready to facilitate and conduct each activity.
Following this 3-step process: explain, execute, and examine is going to make sure that all your participants are involved and are contributing towards the shared goal.
Every activity should be described as mentioned above (workshop activities presentation slides) and while one facilitator is explaining the activity, the other can distribute the material. Remember not to share all the activity materials/worksheets at the beginning as that will distract the participants. Handing out materials just before each specific activity will create excitement and curiosity for the task ahead.
Remember to allocate time for all three steps. You can also divide the time and set your timer accordingly. e.g:
This will also help you pull some participants who have not shared before or are shy to speak first.
Step 3 is the most important one for you and your team. Do remember to add some buffer time as this is the moment where new ideas will be generated through discussion, and you will gather the most information. Beware that sometimes these reflections can trigger other conversations and as a facilitator, you have to make sure it does not drag on. Try saying, “let’s put a pin on this and come back to it at another moment or in a different meeting”.
At the end of the workshop, have a very quick 5-minute recap/reflection on how the day went, and 2-3 pointers on what you will do the next day if running a multi-day session. If the workshop only lasted a few hours to one day, take 10 minutes to recap and thank everyone for their participation. Also share the next steps, as well as how and what the output of the workshop will look like. When wrapping up, we want the participants to deeply understand and embrace the user-centric approach, and be curious to see the workshop output and summary.
Conducting different workshops with different teams facing different challenges across a variety of industries has helped us create and discover new workshop tools and activities catering to a specific client and customized to a specific project.
The more workshops you conduct, the more you will improve your facilitating skills (yup, it takes practice). These workshops have helped us build relationships with the client and believe me, a much stronger trust-bond.