Last May I participated at Christian Crumlish’s workshop about the design of social interfaces. The workshop was great, exposing several design principals, and I felt I had to somehow apply that at work in an interactive way. Based on some tips from Christian and on past experience I organized the following session.
Christian’s book Designing Social Interfaces is a collection of design principles and patterns.
- Prepare the meeting choosing 1 or 2 of the concepts proposed in the book.
- Prepare a few slides to explain the principles to your colleagues.
Depending on the principles you want to discuss about, you might like to invite colleagues from your own design team, product managers, programmers or marketing people. Do not underestimate your colleagues, different ideas encourage discussion.
- Invite people from different groups.
- Explain the principles, give examples.
- Make sure you leave on the screen a slide with the principles (so the participants can read them during the exercise.)
You have to ask participants to imagine how to apply those principles on the current website. For example, you could ask to look for those “cowpaths” from current user behavior that could be “paved” to improve the user experience.
- Ask participants to write short ideas on post-its.
- After a few minutes, ask them to tell out loud what they wrote down, to explain a little bit and to paste the post-its on the whiteboard.
You will find that some ideas are similar.
- Group ideas and ask participants to help you name those groups.
This kind of meeting might not give you a definite answer to your design problems, but for sure it could help you start playing with new ideas, based on stablished principles.
Even more, these meetings are a lot of fun and trigger discussion and conversation through different departments.
Give it a try!