Product design is a complex process that carries some risks. And it can become even more challenging if a design team doesn’t have a clear understanding of the project. When your project lacks specifications, you risk launching a product that will soon fail. A product design workshop can help you avoid this. In this article, we’ll show you what a design workshop is, why you need one, and how to conduct it the right way. Enjoy!
What is a product design workshop?
A product design workshop is the best way to start the design and development phases of a project. It helps you establish the right target audience (determining their needs, preferences, and pain points) and define the core product features and their priority. Conducting product design workshops at the very beginning of the project helps both the client and the design team understand the project’s business goals, target customers, and assumptions. The data gathered from design workshops help you avoid cost overruns and unexpected issues with the product.
Benefits of running a design workshop
What exactly will a design workshop bring to your business? Here are six reasons why a design workshop is worth your attention.
Getting to know the team
A design workshop helps a client get acquainted with the team responsible for realizing their project. During workshop sessions, the client can discuss the ins and outs of the project not only with the design team but also with business analysts, project managers, and developers. A design workshop is a perfect time to ask questions to the team, see their attitude toward the project, and learn how they usually work. Product design workshops also help to establish client expectations about stakeholders’ cooperation.
Understanding the product and its context
Clients are experts in their projects’ fields and know the contexts of their products very well. But clients often don’t provide enough information about their products in a brief because they find the context obvious. It’s extremely important to get every stakeholder on the same page before digging deeper into the design and development process. Designers have expertise in creating digital products, but to make their solutions successful, they need to have domain knowledge and technical expertise at the same time. Design workshops are a bridge between the client’s product vision and the design team’s understanding of the product context.
Brainstorming new ideas
UI/UX design teams usually know lots of design techniques to come up with new solutions and ideas. The product design workshop is the right time to generate ideas and define the product’s visual skeleton. The main purpose of a design workshop is to allow everyone (on the client’s side and within the design team) to freely share their ideas and thoughts about the project and offer honest feedback. It’s important to agree on the initial design idea at the very beginning of the project to avoid misunderstandings and results that don’t correspond to the target audience’s demands.
Discovering product risks and weaknesses
This design workshop phase is one of the most important and beneficial to the client. During the design workshop, project stakeholders reveal potential risks, missing functionalities, potential difficulties with design implementation, etc. One of the best approaches to discover your project’s internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats is using SWOT analysis. SWOT is an incredibly simple but useful tool that millions of startups and established companies use. As the name suggests, SWOT analysis considers four elements:
- Strengths are internal attributes of a product that can bring successful outcomes.
- Weaknesses are internal attributes that bring obstacles on the way to outcomes.
- Opportunities are external factors and trends that a company can exploit and benefit from.
- Threats are external factors that pose challenges and can jeopardize the company’s success.
By conducting SWOT analysis during the design workshop, you increase your chance of benefiting from opportunities and protecting yourself against threats. Below, you can see a visual representation of the SWOT pattern.
Product design workshops are also a great foundation for teams to estimate a project’s scope and cost. Analyzing a project piece by piece with designers and discussing potential solutions is a surefire way to better understand the scope of work and its complexity.
How product design workshops work
Now that you know the real value of a design workshop for a business, we may proceed to a typical design workshop.
Step #1 Product discovery
The main idea behind any product is to solve a particular problem the target audience faces. That’s why the design workshop usually starts with a discovery of the target audience, their needs, and pain points. A usual product discovery session includes the following activities:
- Defining and interviewing stakeholders
- Establishing a communication plan
- Creating a Lean Canvas
- Discovering risks and weaknesses (SWOT analysis)
- Defining the value chain
- Determining the backlog
- Reviewing existing functionality
- Conducting user interviews and surveys
The product discovery stage helps to validate assumptions about business ideas, learn more about the niche and competitors, and identify new product features required by target users.
Step #2 Share findings
When the design team conducts product discovery and in-depth research, they end up with lots of useful data. The design team needs to share this data with all project stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page. Design workshops are the best place to share research results with all participants, allowing them to come up with their own conclusions. To accomplish that, teams use tools such as:
- user personas
- customer journeys
- product strategies
Step #3 Brainstorm solutions
A critical step during the product design workshop is a brainstorming session in which the team tries to figure out what the product will be, which features it will contain, and what kind of experience it will deliver to users.
Once the team agrees on a set of features, workshop participants also need to come up with a method for how they’ll bring them to market — that’s the foundation of the product strategy. The feature list is necessary for the design phase to begin.
Step #4 Prototype
Finally, the design team embodies the design ideas generated in the previous phase. They start with hand-drawn sketches or simple sketches in special programs. These sketches can then be used for creating clickable prototypes and wireframes.
The idea behind prototyping is to create something quickly and test it with real users from the target group. That opens the door to iterating on the prototype and making sure the product is understandable for everyone.
Some business owners and executors may underestimate product design workshops. But as you can see, design workshops can not only help you avoid misunderstanding and design inconsistencies but also can ensure a common project vision between all stakeholders and facilitate the design process. If you’re looking for an experienced team to design your product right, get in touch with UGEM!