Collaborative design sesson


hi all,
I’m going to organize and moderate a collaborative design session.

This is the plan:

  • We will be in the same room for 4 hours a couple of times to find out how to deliver a consistent solution for a specific issue
  • We will have project owners, front-end engineers, business analysts and UI designers
    *We have already two versions of the same solution running on our platforms
    *UX team already defined card sorting, personas and user journeyes

According your experience which is the most powerful approach to analyse, define and decide a shared solution?
I mean do u use any specific tool and/or methodology?
I’d like to avoid the brainstorming mode, I prefer to be pragmatic since we have all the stakeholders in the same room!

Thanks in advance for your replies


Great to hear. I love collaborative design sessions!

Several sessions of 4 hours seems like a lot? Great that you have the time for it though. Watch out for low blood-sugar levels, which tend to make the ‘group discussion’ parts a bit more animated than ideal.

The brainstorming side of things is where I believe the magic happens—the benefits of collaborative design sessions come from generating the ideas together, being included in the design process with hands on activities, and busting through “designers block” with the benefit of different roles/perspectives. The consensus emerges from the group reaching the same conclusions. I wouldn’t necessarily separate the idea selection from the brainstorming. Are you avoiding the brainstorming mode because of strict project design constraints?

Here are two of the most common approaches to shaping the activities and process that combine the group brainstorming with the selection and refinement of ideas:

  1. A ‘Group whiteboard sketching’ approach is better suited to ideating within certain constraints. You can sketch up the general/existing layout on the whiteboard, and take turns sketching/explaining an idea by removing or adding to the previous design (or passing if they don’t have anything to add), then discussing each idea as a group before moving to the next sketcher. This tends to generate less innovation, but facilitates working within the constraints. Lots of good discussion comes out of it! And time can slip away while you’re having fun.

  2. Alternately, a ‘Design Studio method’ where you gather all the resources you need (people, paper, drawing materials, reference material) in one room, and give the team a problem to solve. You then work through steps of a) sketching for a few minutes on your own, b) explaining your sketches for a minute or two each, and then c) critiquing each idea as a group for a few mins. Rinse and repeat a couple of times. After a couple of rounds, you may start seeing some convergence, and the facilitator might increase the design fidelity in the following round (more fine detail). This method doesn’t do so well when the project has strict constraints where divergent ideas aren’t helpful, but you can focus in on specific parts of a design quite nicely.




Agreed. Four hours is a long time and can also lead to disengagement- people get tired and mentally check out.

It helps if there are scheduled breaks, water and snacks like fruit available and if the room has windows and natural light.


Food and nibbles have always been received favourably! Homemade treats with a bit of a sense of humour can also lead to a good reputation. :slight_smile:


@Lukcha thanks for your comment :slight_smile:

I want to avoid the brainstorming mode because we already had a couple of sessions and the output was not satisfying our needs. We are plenty of tech constraints due to the fact that we have to use a specific technology for a specific customer. Our goal, as UX team, is to deliver two versions of the feature to present to the client.
We built a scenario with a specific user journey and a specific persona.
Your input is very helpful to me how to handle the attendees.
Have a nice day!


from my personal experience brainstorming mode is not the magic formula for each scenario.
I was involved in several session of this type and we invested a lot of effort to analyse and to put in a digestible way all the outputs without having a fulfilling proposal.


@AshleaMcKay and @Lukcha we are in Switzerland and we never running out of sugar :slight_smile:


@dopamino I just stumbled across this:


That’s a fantastic article. A super clear challenge, method/process and result/conclusion will help create successful brainstorming sessions.

I also like the way the author, Jennifer, challenges us as UX designers to design the stakeholder engagement as well as the end product. :slight_smile:


thank you!