Co-creation workshops and involving users

by Edward Andrews-Hodgson
Posted on 30 October 2013
read time: 2 minutes

Last week we headed for London to run a co-creation workshop at vInspired– the UK's leading youth volunteering charity. Involving users in the design of a new online service at the beginning is essential as the workshops provide invaluable insight and inspiration into what real people actually want. In this instance, we focused on users from other charities who will accessvInspired's new online platform to find volunteers.

Make it fun

We had a fantastically engaged group – about 10 in all – split fairly evenly between vInspired staff and people from other charities who need to recruit volunteers. Everyone joined in enthusiastically and we learned a great deal from them over the day. We facilitated a series of fun and creative activities to discover what typical users might want from the website, and how the site could be structured to satisfy those desires.

No technology!

When we're running this type of workshop, we do our very best to get away from using screens and enforce a “no technology" rule to keep our focus firmly on creativity. Rich's – our Creative Director – artistic and design skills really come into play at this point, as you can see from the photos, he produces great posters and images for us to use. People who come to our workshops really enjoy this “low tech" style of working and there's no doubt it results in a buzzing space where lots of ideas are generated.

We've found these workshops incredibly useful for discovering the functionality a new website should, and conversely, shouldn't offer. The process gives us a real handle on how users will expect to be able to use the services the website is offering. We also anticipate some of participants will become beta users of the site, once we've got test versions available. It's great for us as developers to be this in touch with the people who use the sites we're working on, and each co-creation workshop provides a feast of learning for us to take away.

Be very clear, with yourself and those participating, exactly what you want to discover. We do this by pinpointing a “question" which frames the session, and we keep it in mind throughout the planning phases

My top tip

My number one tip when running co-creation workshops is: Be very clear, with yourself and those participating, exactly what you want to discover. We do this by pinpointing a “question" which frames the session, and we keep it in mind throughout the planning phases. We also present it at the beginning of the session:

how could the vinspired website help you to recruit young volunteers

This helps provide a visual focus for the entire workshop and is a technique called "Draw the problem" outlined in the excellent book "Gamestorming".

I'm going to be writing more about how we've designed and run these co-creation workshops over the next few weeks, but that's all for now. In the meantime, do let me know if there are specific topics you'd like me to address.

Related links

Photos of the Yoomee workshop on Flickr
Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers

Posted on 30 October 2013 - By Edward Andrews-Hodgson
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