Design Workshops

Product Vision

Approach: Conduct a series of five workshops to better understand the reader and brainstorm product ideas to better solve their needs.
Goal: Build a better product for the reader by uniting the company’s departments behind one product vision.
Problem: Departments were not aligned on product goals and there was no clear path forward for making improvements to the product that would benefit clients and readers.
Time: 3 mos. (Nov. 2019)
Role: Planning and facilitating workshops
  1. A content audit to show the performance of content types and features across the site. Before beginning the product vision workshops, I dug deep into our Google Analytics and pulled the data into Google Sheets. With pivot tables, I was able to benchmark the current state of the product and suggest features to elevate, as well as kill. The content audit also presented  opportunities that led to the decision to form a product vision statement.
  2. Pitch a series of six product vision design workshops to department leadership. Noting through the content audit slide deck areas for improvement, we asked stakeholders to invest their time in a series of sessions to choose a long-term goal for our publication sites.
  3. Research. I attended a workshop on designing workshops that I greatly enjoyed and took those insights back to the team. When researching example product vision statements, we also found a skeleton for a product vision statement. We had a different workshop for each blank we needed to fill in the statement.
  4. Create minute-by-minute itineraries. The workshop I attended recommended creating a minute-by-minute for each workshop to stay on track and ensure the goals of the workshop are met.
  5. Plan the activities (e.g. card sorting, persona creation, feature storming, storyboarding). Each workshop required strategic planning to ensure stakeholders had the information they needed to make a decision at its end. Once the activity was selected, myself and my team member Natalie Forman created worksheets and gathered supplies.
  6. Rehearse. Each workshop was rehearsed with two graphic designers to reveal any flaw in the planning or staging.
  7. Execute workshop and document outcomes. The workshop I attended also recommended never facilitating a workshop alone. While I led the workshops, my team member Natalie Forman, who also shared planning responsibilities with me, kept the room moving and documented the process.
  8. Create a final presentation. The presentation showed what we accomplished, our milestones and demo an aspirational prototype for the site based on the product vision.
Challenges: Workshops are WORK. Designing each workshop to meet its goal in the allotted time was time consuming. There were often many workshop iterations before finding the minute-by-minute that we believed would give us the optimal outcome. Additionally, we seemed to have bad luck with writing utensils. During the first workshop, Sharpies bled through the worksheets and, in the second, a box of pens ran dry almost immediately. We were successful by the third workshop.
Impact: The final product vision statement created buy-in for making enhancements to the publication websites and brought missed opportunities in the product to leadership’s attention. Since the workshops, we’ve been able to make user-facing improvements to the site for our clients and readers.