UX Design for software on whiteboard. Newicon team at work

 

Whether you’re redesigning your website, building a new mobile app or digitally transforming your entire business, there’s one part of the process that’s fundamentally important to each and every project. In this blog post, we explain why.

Laying the foundations

In our experience, the one part of any project that has the most impact on the outcome is the workshop.

The workshop isn’t time-consuming — at most, it might take a few days — and the return you get on that time is difficult to underestimate.

To find out why, let’s take a look at what exactly we mean by a workshop, before going into what it is that makes them so effective. Then we’ll end with some tips for ensuring that you get as much value from your workshops as possible.

What is a workshop?

Obviously, there are many types of workshop. There could even be a variety of workshops throughout your project. But the one we’re talking about here is the project-kickoff workshop. It’s the first time that the people doing the work and the people who need the work done, get together to seriously discuss the project in detail, from start to finish. It’s where the needs of the client are defined and potential issues ironed out.

Keep in mind, this isn’t the start of waterfall methodology. You’re not mapping out every aspect of the project in advance. Instead, both parties are cementing what the final goals are, and figuring out the best way to go about achieving that goal.

Why workshop

Now that we’ve clarified the kind of workshop we’re talking about, let’s get into the really good stuff: how your business can benefit.

Here’s what you can expect to achieve.

Defining budget

In our opinion, a preliminary workshop is best done before you ask for estimates for the job at hand. It makes sense. Imagine if your project were building a house, rather than something digital. Now imagine asking builders to give you an estimate for construction of that house, without telling them anything more than you want a new, three-bedroom house. Sure, you can do it. But the range of prices you’re likely to get will range in value dramatically.

The same is true of your digital project. In order to get an accurate quote, you need to get together with potential suppliers and talk about exactly what you want to get out of the project. Only then will a business be able to give you a better idea of how much time and money will be involved.

It’s also important to remember that this workshop can help cut overall costs. One hour of workshop time could easily help you realise that one or two days worth of work you thought would be needed, are not actually necessary. And that leads directly to the next point.

Develop your ideas

Done right, a workshop is a hotbed of creativity. Before the workshop, there’s a good chance that ideas for your digital project plateaued. By bringing in another company, you get access to a fresh perspective. In our experience, this often results in new ideas that strengthen the original concept, or even change it quite dramatically — while still meeting the needs that created the project in the first place.

Also keep in mind that the company you’ve selected to help you with your digital project will likely have experience from working in multiple industries, with businesses of every shape and size. This experience can often result in valuable insight, that a company working in one industry alone might not possess.

Collaborate

The key to making this work is collaboration. Treat the workshop as an opportunity to get input from others, rather than a chance to just tell someone what you want to do (although that is an important part of the process).

Remember that through collaboration you gain access to a much wider skill set, more insight and a clearer perspective. By getting people from different areas of the business to work together in a workshop, you get more value from the consultation process by taking a more holistic approach. For example, by bringing in digital marketers into a workshop for an app-build, you might realise that you haven’t put enough thought into how you’ll actually let people know about the amazing new app you’re about to build. It’s hard to put a price on the value you can get from bringing a group of experts together with the sole object of improving a project.

Be open to change

To ensure you get the most out of your workshop, it’s important to go into it with an open mind. Be aware though, that this might not be easy. A lot of thought and effort will have gone into the project already, and having another company give its input can sometimes feel like a step backwards.

Remember that you don’t have to accept all the ideas that come up during the workshop. It is, however, important that you listen to all the ideas and keep an open mind as to how they might impact your project. We talked before about collaboration, and that really is key here. By working alongside another company to clarify what you’re trying to achieve, the end result is often a better final product, a more streamlined process and less risk of things going wrong along the way.

Put simply, this extra bit of work you put in at the start, will pay dividends by the time you reach the end of the process.

Communicate your needs

Last but not least is the fact that the workshop is an ideal opportunity to let your chosen partner know what they need to about your company and its values. This is an important step, as this information will feed directly into the project you’re working together on.

Tips for getting the most from your workshops

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what a workshop can help you achieve, let’s take a quick look at a few tips for getting the most out of your workshops.

  1. Design thinking. Grab a whiteboard pen and start to visualise the dream version of your project. Take the initiative, get creative and articulate your requirements visually. From there, discuss, iterate and refine.
  2. Gather the team. It’s important to bring together representatives of each group that’ll use the app/software you’re building. And it’s even more important to invite people who interact with your customers (the workshopping process needs a strong understanding of the journey your customers take). Use the experience of these people to dissect every aspect of the project. That way you’ll reduce friction, solve pain points and ultimately produce better solutions.
  3. Personas and user stories. In order to create the most appropriate solution it’s imperative you understand your users’ demographics. You need to understand who you are designing for and what state of mind they might be in during each touch point with the system. Armed with this knowledge, you can empathise better and produce smarter solutions.

Want to know more?

If you’ve got this far, you’re probably beginning to twig that we’re big fans of starting a project with a workshop. In our experience, it’s part of the process that offers an impressive ROI time and time again.

This blog post will have given you an idea of what a well-planned workshop can offer as part of your next digital project. If you want to know more or have any questions about what we’ve discussed, then feel free to get in touch. We’re always happy to have a chat.

If you’re interested in working with Newicon on your next digital project, get in touch now.