Three useful online co-design activities

Published Nov 2, 2021, 7:00 AM
Written by Rachel Kelly

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


Many workplaces now have staff working from different locations. It’s a challenge to collect information to design a new software system when you can’t meet all of the essential people within an organisation because they work on different shifts or in different locations. 

We faced this challenge in 2019 and 2020 while working with Public Transport Victoria (PTV) while designing them a powerful intranet that enables their large and dispersed workforce to gather information from a range of systems, so they can work quickly and efficiently. 

We involved our development team from the beginning of the project, so they had a deep understanding of people’s working days. They were right there from the beginning of our Discovery phase where we found the most diverse range of users for four core groups of users across the geographically dispersed team.

Our coders were able to think beyond the specifications and to incorporate features and user experiences that were both flexible and delightful for the people using the new intranet system.

We also made terrific use of our time, diving in and co-designing with:

  • 2.5 hours
  • 3 user groups
  • 9 participants
  • 1 UXer
  • 1 Strategist 
  • 1 Developer

Our co-design sessions followed this structure:

  • Co-design introduction – 15 min
  • Activity 1 - Reflection activity – 45 min
  • Activity 2 - Paper prototyping and sketching – 45 min
  • Activity 3 - Knowledge base sketching activity – 45 min
  • Wrap up – 10 mins

These were the codesign activities that gave us valuable information and allowed us to keep the project focussed on major issues.


Activity 1

Group reflection to simplify search functions and allow users to identify their highest priority information

A highly engaged group of participants came together for the UX design workshop where three activities were conducted in order to develop a deeper understanding of the users’ needs.

We love using coloured post-its during in-person sessions – digital post-its work just as well with online sessions. 


Activity 2

Paper prototyping and sketching to identify key features of a dashboard to fit a variety of scenarios

The dashboard concept was central to the redevelopment of the extranet. We allowed participants to design their dream dashboard solutions using a series of scenarios.

One extremely interesting finding was identifying that a number of participants were cynical about future improvements. Their points of view were taken into account in the change management process, helping others who had similarly

Symbiote Co Design Blog Content Audit 2

Activity 3

Knowledge base sketching activity to underscore the importance of developing different tagging, searching and display options

Users split into their work groups for this activity to sort information they’d searched for and used in the past week, month and year.

This activity made it clear that there was a huge diversity in the needs of different user groups in the organisation, which led us to find creative solutions that enabled content authors to tag, personalise and display content without building loads of custom code