Moving our co-design sessions online during COVID turned to be an advantage

Published Oct 5, 2021, 9:25 AM
Written by Rachel Kelly

Online co-design activities can work well for geographically dispersed teams and they don’t have to consume a lot of time.

Before COVID we thought that co-design sessions were best done in person where possible because they allowed us to collect valuable information. But during the pandemic, we added to and refined our codesign tools to shift our sessions 100% online. These sessions not only continued to work as well as they had previously, but they had several unforeseen benefits.

After conducting several online sessions with different clients, we observed that participants were willing to be more honest, creative and constructive with their contributions.


These are some of the most important steps and exercises in our co-design process:  

  1. Participant recruiting – it’s essential to ensure that we’ve selected the most appropriate participants who represent the whole gamut of user experience – involving stakeholders, real end-users or technical experts.
  2. Group reflection activities – Keep, start and stop is a brilliant activity we use to get participants' creative juices flowing as they’re asked to consider what they want to keep doing, start doing and stop doing as part of the product or service under review.
  3. Paper prototyping and sketching – this powerful follow-on from the group reflections uses carefully crafted scenarios to enable the participants to sketch out solutions. We use a sketch and share method, repeating two rounds of sketching for each scenario. It’s common that participants will talk to their peers after the first round and return for round two with more fulsome ideas.
  4. Storyboarding – at key stages of the research, we find it’s useful to bring in persona-based user journeys as a way to depict a storyboard/scenario and ask participants to fill in the blanks as to how they might resolve or overcome specific scenarios or pain points.
  5. Context mapping – a process to sketch out abstract concepts such as envisioning future strategies. Mapping positive and negative concepts can act as a useful starting point for idea generation.
Symbiote co deisgn Image credit: patrick perkins unsplash
Symbiote co deisgn Image credit: patrick perkins unsplash