Design thinking workshops are an excellent way to bring people with very different perspectives together in order to give creative input into scoping and designing digital projects. Design thinking is an approach that we have successfully used with our clients to design Sitecore-based websites, that have incorporated input from:

  • Different teams and functions within the business
  • Those involved in different parts of the content lifecycle from authors to content admins to the digital marketing manager
  • Even the customer view

Having the diversity of opinion and taking a more collaborative mindset and approach leads to better results. In this post we’re going to explore the main steps involved in running a design workshop for Sitecore, and how you can leverage Sitecore Experience Accelerator to help prototype and validate ideas.

Editor's note: this is the latest in a series of articles on design thinking. The first, How to Put Design Thinking Into Action, and second, 6 Tactics to Make Design Thinking a Success, ran in May and the third, Getting the Right Mindset for Design Thinking: Embracing Chaos and Collaboration, ran Aug. 24.

What Are the Different Stages of a Sitecore Design Thinking Workshop?

On another article I outlined the high-level phases of any design workshop:

  1. Understand the current state: Define the current problem, identify issues and then analyze them to discern the main priorities
  2. Map the future state: Come up with new ideas and then develop them by prototyping the solution
  3. Validate proposed ideas: test the ideas to see if they work and whether they can be put into action

A design workshop for a Sitecore project will generally follow these steps.

Sometimes it can be beneficial to carry out some exercises prior to a main design thinking workshop, perhaps with the central marketing team, in order to help define exactly who should be at the workshop. For example, you can use an empathy map and then a stakeholder mapping exercise in order to understand the key people who should be there.

The main design workshop session would then consist of an ideation process that would help to understand the current state. Here, one exercise that works very well is the Rose Bud Thorn technique that gets input not only where you are currently, but also input for the future state. Other exercises such as affinity clustering, using a creative matrix and then a “visualize the vote” process to develop, synthesize and prioritize ideas.

With these design thinking exercises, you will have brought together different perspectives and had creative input that will be very focused on the way people actually use your website, but also take into account the Sitecore implementation from the content authors and admin perspective as well.

Related Article: Let Experience Design Be Your Competitive Advantage in 2022

Prototyping and Sitecore Experience Accelerator

For the prototyping and testing stages of a design thinking process for a Sitecore website project, Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) is an excellent platform that has a reusable set of components and layouts that can be leveraged as a rapid prototyping tool. SXA works in a way that separates content structure from design, which makes it easier to experiment with different designs.

Learning Opportunities

Ideas that have been discussed with a particular team can be implemented quickly using SXA and can start to give form for an idea, making it much more tangible. When participants start to see the art of the possible, it can stimulate further discussions and ideas, and lead to further iterations which again can be made real via SXA.

Validation and Live Testing

SXA can also be used for testing and validation. Once a design has been prototyped, it can be potentially tested live on SXA using other Sitecore features such as A/B and multivariate testing, again allowing a range of ideas from the design thinking process to be tested.

For example, perhaps there was an idea for a way of working with videos, or we want to introduce a banner, or have different ways of working with call to actions. We can rapidly build all these variations within SXA and use A/B testing and work out which are more successful. The reporting on Sitecore is also sufficient to be able to review usage and engagement, and help validate the outcome of testing different ideas.

Related Article: Design Thinking in 2022: Centering the Customer Journey, Embracing the Metaverse

Working With Personalization

Personalization can also be important here, because we could be working with teams from different regions or looking from different perspectives, and we may want to test what works with different groups. If we have done a customer journey mapping exercise, we may have different personas and profiles. We can use SXA to leverage Sitecore’s strong personalization features to also deliver different ideas to different groups of people.

For example, if our design thinking output was focused on a Sitecore-based university, we could target a particular set of content or way to navigate to students, or to professors, or different communities, or even to people coming from different locations.