As a designer, I collaborate with developers, managers, and customers in the product development process. The secret to a successful partnership is that every team member understands the product’s essence. Often in the initial planning stages, clients feel overwhelmed by the endless number of ideas that come to mind when thinking about how goods might work and look. Most originators have an overall concept or vision for the new item but are unsure what direction it should take, whom it should serve, etc.
When we start working on a new project, one of the first stages is to conduct product workshops at Applover. Thanks to them, we can confront the vision, define scope, and create a flow. And already at this stage, we have the opportunity to express the problems that may arise during development. The meetings take different forms and serve various purposes, depending on the product’s complexity and the stage at which the project is located.
Two critical elements of a successful product
The essential factor in creating a practical and functional application is the product design stage, which requires several vital elements.
First, good collaboration among team members is critical. All the people who create, sell and use the project – developers, designers, owners, strategists, stakeholders, and users – need to support, collaborate and understand each other. To achieve a common understanding, it is good to use effective collaboration methods and apply agile methods in the product life cycle.
The second success factor is a clear vision defined at the beginning of the development process. All parties and stakeholders should agree on what needs to be achieved.
What exactly are product design workshops?
The opportunity to work as a team with the customer to discover needs and expectations and fulfill their vision is one of the workshop’s most important goals. It is also the time to discuss the features that will soon be implemented and discuss the process that the project team will follow shortly, and finally – getting to know each other and creating a powerful team.
With these things in mind, at Applover, we always meet with our clients and analyze their ideas before proceeding with the technical implementation. As experienced professionals, we try our best to prepare for each session: all tools, exercises, and what happens during the meetings are carefully planned, tailored individually to each client or project.
Why do we need workshops?
There are several important reasons:
- understanding why we want to bring the product to market
- defining the stage of the produce (to assess whether we will be dealing with a prototype or MVP, or maybe it is already an existing product that needs development)
- to know how the item works, creating user stories, user flow, etc.
- making the right technology choices
- developing a standard design approach
However, before the development takes place, there is a preparation stage. We always take the time to meticulously analyze the brief and materials that we receive from the vendor. Conducting many project sessions with clients, summarizing the effects that we managed to achieve, and having in mind the continuous improvement of our internal processes, we have developed several vital points that accompany us during the workshops.
1. Gather as much information as possible before the sessions
Of course, after receiving the brief filled in by the client, we analyze it and define initial assumptions. However, in practice, we are often helped by an additional kick-off call before the workshop – thanks to it, we can clarify unclear issues and learn about the most crucial product features (if they have not been outlined, or if we want to expand on threads raised in brief).
2. Dividing the workshop into several meetings
We usually split the whole process into two separate meetings, as the sessions are pretty intensive and require intense focus and breaks between activities. We avoid the impression that the meeting is too long and the participants are less focused on the workshop’s prolonged time.
3. Creating an agenda
The agenda of the meetings is never the same. We base our conversations solely on the product’s information in question and the goals we want to achieve during the workshop. Composing the program is an important activity that gives all parties involved the opportunity to define their expectations for the meeting and share different ideas at its stages. Each conversation’s goal is to make the most of the time we are going to spend together.
4. Adapting workshop techniques
Once we know what we want to achieve and why we want to achieve it, we move on to choosing the right tools and techniques. We prefer those that will help us define the brand, such as story mapping, empathy maps, exercises focused on getting to know users better, brainstorming, or value matrices so that by the end of the convention, we have a clear vision of the product we will create.
5. Flexible approach
It is not said that we have to stick rigidly to a particular plan. If we find it helpful to introduce other workshop activities, we can change the program based on new needs and discoveries. The goal is to understand the product together, so we are open to possible modifications.
How does the design workshop work?
In the current situation, sessions take place remotely, using a Mural tool and Google Meets or Zoom. We work together on whiteboards with specific tasks, and we combine individual exercises with group discussions. During personal activities, each participant is free to express his or her thoughts through digital sticky notes or the commenting function.
Every day we prove to our clients that we can maintain a good quality of communication, and the distance between us is not a barrier, and often gives the possibility to optimize costs. It also allows for greater involvement of all the people who should participate in the design process.
We do not treat this remote method as the only and right one – but we know that it will stay with us permanently and will be used even after the restrictions are lifted.
Further stages of work on the introduction of a new product
We attended a workshop together, learned about the creation, and planned our next steps. But that’s not all. After our meeting is over, the following moves are usually implemented:
1. Meeting summary
As soon as possible, the results of the completed work are made available to workshop participants. We send it usually in the form of a document with the effects of our actions written down, with links to carried out activities (if the session took place online) or photos of materials created during the call.
2. Creation of first mock-up proposals and initial specifications
After defining the product flow, based on event effects (often in the form of functionalities written down), we create the first functional mock-ups discussed with the client on an ongoing basis. As a result, having designed and accepted wireframes, we can proceed to further steps.
To find out more about our process – read our Process Book.
Do you want to know more about product design workshops at Applover?
Are product design workshops necessary?
For us, sessions are a tool for solving any communication problems and a platform for exchanging knowledge, ideas, inspirations, and concerns. They help us get to know each other and build trust, which we consider the basis for every project’s success.
In just a few hours of hearing, we can unify knowledge, define goals and prioritize them. We are also often able to generate initial ideas for solutions to given problems during their duration. Interaction in diverse groups stimulates the generation of ideas that would not arise when working alone. Besides, all participants complement each other with the knowledge of project requirements and constraints. The workshop results are primarily the result of teamwork.