The ideation and refinement process typically includes three components, which take place on days 2, 3, and 4 respectively:

  • Ideation, agreement, and refinement on direction.
  • Crafting of paper prototypes to present to users for user testing.
  • Testing and iterating the paper prototypes until target users succeed with target tasks.

Ideation and Refinement Stage- Day 2

In the Ideation and Refinement stage, which typically happens on the second day, teams do the following:

  1. The larger team identifies the key personas, and the top single use case to evaluate in user testing (along with secondary use cases required to validate the direction).
  2. Split into three teams with equivalent roles on each.
  3. Each team brainstorms potential design or business solutions.
  4. The larger team gets back together, so everyone can learn from the ideas of other teams, and identify what elements from each are the best.
  5. Repeat this process- each team separately refines their ideas, based on input from the other teams, and presents back to the larger group.
  6. The larger group votes on the best core direction, and then agrees on which elements from each of the design directions would create the most powerful overall design.

Paper Prototyping Stage- Day 3

During the Paper Prototyping stage, which typically happens on the third day, teams prototype screens for the entire workflow needed to test the design direction. This often requires a team to craft the core framework and conceptual model on which specific design components are created. Once they have established a core direction, individuals or small teams go away and craft individual screens. The team meets frequently to ensure that all the screens are being generated as intended. At the end of this session, the larger team has a complete set of wireframes that enable a comprehensive paper prototype review of the workflow, to ensure users can successfully complete the use cases identified in the Ideation and Refinement stage.

User Testing Stage- Day 4

During the User Testing stage, which typically happens on the fourth day, teams bring in actual users of the product and ask them to perform the task identified in the use case. This process often requires two people:

  • The user researcher, who engages with the user
  • A second person, who represents the computer. This person flips pages, places drop-down menus on pages, or otherwise navigates to the page or element that would appear were the user to have clicked on or touched the element on the screen of a computer or tablet.

After each user, we find it useful to modify the paper prototypes to eliminate any bottlenecks that the previous user encountered. After running through this process with six users, and evolving the wireframes after each step, you end up with validated paper prototype directions that the entire team typically feels deeply excited about.