“Design is now too important to be left to designers.”
— Tim Brown
We often think of User Experience as something created by UX/UI designers, but that is not completely true. UX is created by the close collaboration and productive interaction among the stakeholders. The design is a collaborative activity and UX/UI designers need to work together with operations, marketing, as well as engineering departments to realize the design of a product they are envisioning.
Coordinating among all of these separate disciplines can be hard because each of these has different goals and priorities. Each discipline can have a different perspective on the relative importance of the many factors that make up the design of a product.
The designer argues that it must be usable, the business contends that it should be viable, and technology is concerned with the feasibility of the product. Here is where the designers can pursue collaborative design to overcome these differences.
Collaborative design, also known as participatory design, is a design strategy that helps foster effective collaboration among different stakeholders. As Gustavo Pimenta of SenseLab puts it,
“Collaborative design is the process of involving people with distinct profiles in the design process to achieve non-linear solutions for various kinds of problems.”
Benefits of Collaborative Design
Collaboration is the most challenging part of the design process. But there is ample payoff for those who are willing to take on the challenge. Here are a few benefits of collaborative design:
Brings the Team Together with a Shared Mission
Collaborative design brings team members together, focuses them on a shared goal instead of wasting endless time stuck in disagreement. This collaborative culture motivates the team, and further increases the probability of a fruitful outcome.
Often, teams work in silos and are unable to innovate because their ideas are trapped in “echo chambers”. Collaborative Design prevents this issue by involving all team members from the very beginning in a workshop-based approach. This unlocks the creative potential across the team and gives an impetus to innovation.
Fosters Shared Ownership
As different stakeholders are involved in the collaborative design process, everyone feels invested and has a stake in the outcome. This creates a sense of shared ownership in the success of the project.
Activities of Collaborative Design
What kind of activities can fit within the framework of collaborative design? – Activities that combine individual and group exercises and involve a group of people with different profiles. Some examples of these activities are Crazy Eights, Affinity Mapping, and Whiteboard Sketching etc.
These activities foster the process of ideation, collaboration, and involvement without requiring a lot of time, effort, materials, or software knowledge.
A whiteboard session is a type of informal session in which multiple team members contribute to one design on a whiteboard. It works rather well for smaller groups or cross-functional teams that are aiming at comparing design ideas.
This kind of a session commences with clear goals at hand; goals such as what is it that needs to be designed. From there, the team can begin sketching an idea. All the team members are then allowed to get involved in building upon that very idea. They can do so much as to propose alternatives and even discuss the potential challenges.
Begin with clear goals and list them on the whiteboard. One team member starts with drawing an idea, and then the team joins collaborates towards achieving these goals.
The Crazy Eights
The technique called the “crazy eights is a sketching activity comprising three rounds. It helps individuals generate ideas. Here is the step-by-step process:
Crazy eights is a sketching activity comprising three rounds which that empowers individual participants to create ideas as they brainstorm during the sessions.
Round 1: 5 minutes; 8 ideas
Each participant needs to fold a sheet of paper thrice into equal halves, thus creating 8 rectangles Then, they unfold the paper. Now, each individual needs to take no more than 5 minutes to sketch 8 ideas into each rectangle.
Round 2: 5 minutes; 1 big idea Now,
each participant works on their own for sketching one big idea on a separate piece of paper. This is done in, again, no more than 5 minutes. The plan is to either build on one of the 8 ideas or combine various elements from any of those 8 ideas created in Round one.
Round 3: 5 minutes; 1 storyboard/wire flow
Now that the participant the big idea from Round 2, they must build a storyboard on a new piece of paper, explaining the key steps that a user must take in relation to that idea.
The activity called affinity diagramming is a UX activity usually involving two steps:
Creating sticky notes: During this step, the members of the team write down facts or ideas on several distinct sticky notes.
- There is a usability session wherein the facilitator, as well as the observers, document on a separate sticky note, any sort of — each on one sticky note.
- Then, there’s the ideation workshop, wherein the facilitator or the attendees documented each idea on a separate sticky note.
Organizing the notes in groups: Once the ideation session has been carried out, the team joins in a workshop for analyzing the notes by:
- sorting the notes into distinct categories
- Setting priority each note, and ascertaining the subsequent steps in design or for further research if needed
The design sprint is a tested methodology aimed at resolving problems by way of designing, prototyping, and then testing out those ideas with real users. Design sprints have the power to swiftly align various teams to a shared vision, clearly underlined objectives and deliverables, thus rendering itself as one of the best ways of collaborative design
It is one pivotal collaborative design tools that help you develop a hypothesis, create a prototype of an idea, and test it out it quickly with minimum possible investment in the most realistic possible environment.
This method proposes five consecutive days of work, during which the problem is discussed and a solution is tested, along with the representatives of the target audience of the product or service.
When to Use Collaborative Design?
Here are some use cases where collaborative design can be usefully applied.
- Defining the vision of a product or service
- Gaining context on a distinct problem
- Generating and discussing ideas in an effective yet fun way
- Solving a specific design problem
- Designing the life cycle of a product or service
Product design cannot exist in a vacuum. That is why it needs the involvement of every team that has anything to do with the product directly. And that is what collaborative design facilitates.