Not only designers but the majority of professionals nowadays are pushed out of their well-established offline workflow to online platforms. The new work environment can be challenging for some, but also can serve as a source of inspiration for others. So, today we’re going to discover how virtual design workshops can be conducted efficiently and help design teams in making your project successful.
Teamwork can be challenging even under normal circumstances, let alone cooperating remotely. For this reason, preparing well for a design workshop is essential. The two major obstacles you can encounter are picking the right software and making the remote work environment comfortable for everyone. Let’s explore more solutions for each issue.
For the most productive virtual workshop, you should pick the right software. The first step of that is to choose the platform to get everyone in touch and allow the team to communicate their ideas freely.
This year can be easily called the year of Zoom. A lot of companies and universities use this platform for remote meetings, conferences, and workshops. If organizations have privacy concerns with this application, they can easily use Microsoft Teams or any other suitable app. The point here is that the design team should feel comfortable and most importantly able to communicate without problems.
If everything is more or less clear with how to get everyone in touch, it may be less obvious which tools to use for idea generation and discussion. In real life, designers are equipped with boards, stickers, and other things that help them visualize their vision of design. During the virtual workshops, they need to find perfect software.
In this case, everything depends on the workshop’s type, your goals, and UX deliverables:
After we established how to create a workshop, let’s get to the point: how to make it efficient. You might wonder how design teams keep the online workshop as efficient as offline ones. Well, by creating the right atmosphere, you can make online UX workshops even more productive than offline ones, and here are some tricks on how to achieve that.
The crucial moment of any workshop, but especially the remote one is to break the ice between the team members. This helps to make everyone participate, encourage communication within the team and make sure everyone, even the shyest introvert, is comfortable working in the team.
There are a lot of different techniques on how to begin the work process virtually. One of them is to make everyone answer a question: Where do you have your best ideas? During this questionnaire encourage everyone to ask another person why is this place? What ideas person had at that moment, and why? This will help the teammates to put themselves in other people’s shoes and understand their creative thinking.
The ideation stage for the design thinking workshop, especially the virtual one, can’t be efficient without one element: empathy towards users. The problem definition, which is one of the foremost steps of the UX problem, should always be with users in mind. This helps the design team to establish the aim they’re going to attain with design. To stimulate this process, it’s always useful to ask a team “how could we” achieve a certain goal and then find the solution for a certain question.
Another part of the ideation stage is user journey mapping. At this stage, designers try to imagine users’ interaction with their product and how they can achieve a certain point. For each step of the user’s interaction with the product, they add the pain-points and outline user needs for each stage.
How to do this from the technical side we described above but to prepare the team mentally some creative approaches can be taken. For example, one of the tricks is to flip the problem upside-down. Instead of answering the question of how to make people like your product, you ask how to make it unappealing. By thinking from that perspective, you can see what to avoid in your design and which problems should be solved.
The decision-making of remote design workshops relies on equality and less intervention of the one moderating it. If needed the voting and surveys can be anonymous but team members shouldn’t be overwhelmed with their quantity. The important moment of any online UX workshop is for everyone to feel that they contribute to the process, as it can be difficult to be noticeable in the group chat. So, it’s better to encourage everyone to talk through their ideas and find solutions openly and together.
Another great way to make the decision-making process go smoother is to organize ideas in groups as there can be a lot of them, especially if your design team is very active. The best way to do that is a dedicated application.
To sum up, thanks to modern technologies, virtual design thinking workshops are not only possible but can be beneficial. With the right approach and appropriate tools, it can be turned into an efficient process and, in some areas, even more, productive than the offline one. The advantages of remote workshops are that they are fully digital and can be recorded completely.
This easy access to any workshop results makes decision-making and idea generation processes much easier. Also, with no need for offline preparations, remote workshops go much faster, meaning that your project will be finished faster; and will cost less, meaning savings for your budget.
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