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Oct 18 / Rolaine Dang

Hello Collaborative Design. Goodbye Ninjas and Rockstars.

As our team goes full throttle into the use of agile methodologies, our design process also adopted a new, leaner workflow derived from the LeanUX book. Hello collaborative design. In my past blog post about LeanUX, I briefly mentioned the concept of collaborative design and shared my excitement in implementing this process. In the past, I worked in a waterfall process. I was left to solve all design problems (i.e. layout design, information hierarchy, building of new features, etc.) on my own. The weight of finding the appropriate solutions was all on my shoulders. I never liked the Ninja and Rockstar mentality of one person being the savior. Ninjas and Rockstars don’t like to share ideas and spotlight (though I never liked being in the spotlight anyways). I gladly parted ways with our old process. Now I can share the responsibility with my colleagues and direct the spotlight to the team.

In our third sprint, I was able to lead the team in this collaborative exercise to come up with the WSU header design. Let me tell you, as a designer,  it was invigorating to see unconventional ideas evolve into a viable product. Since then, we have used collaborative design to come up with the homepage and childpage design templates.

Below, I’ve included some information on how our team went about the collaborative design process.

Who can participate?

Any one can be involved in the process (designers, developers, content strategist, business analysts, etc.)

The Process of Collaborative Design:

  • Define minimum requirements and constraints.
  • Break out individually for idea generation by creating wireframe sketches  (15 mins).
  • Individual presentation of wireframe to the group followed by group critique on individual’s wireframe with feedback focused on clarifying the presenter’s design (5 mins per person).
  • Break out individually for iteration on their own most well-received wireframe (15 mins).
  • Presentation/group critique  (5 mins per person).
  • Team idea generation to be done on a whiteboard. Sketching a single solution based on ideas from wireframes that the team thinks will be the most successful in fulfilling the goal(s)  (30 mins).
  • After the wireframe design has been completed, pass it on to a developer/designer to get implemented.


What are the benefits of Team Collaborative Design?

  • More ideas are generated
  • Get immediate feedback on ideas
  • Everybody shares a common understanding on the problems and solutions
  • Greater team ownership of product
  • Builds team moral and camaraderie
  • Long term time savings by avoiding potential pitfalls
  • Happy designer! Design is not burdened on one person.

We hope you find this post helpful or at the very least thought provoking.