I was scared to bring my clients into our design process, and a great deal of my fear stemmed from the fact that I work in the highly regulated healthcare industry. With so many constraints and nuances of legalities, it was daunting to bring greater transparency to our UX process. But once I piloted the approach, it was so successful that it just started to take off. So here are a few pointers on how to get this started at your shop.

Start Small

Put your toe in the water. We take a Design Studio Workshop approach to ideation, sketching screens before we go into prototyping. We invited our client to join us for a session. The rich discussion that happened around the sketching was just as valuable as the sketching itself. We learned what the client was thinking and their objections to certain interactions and layouts prior to spending a great deal of time on them. I ran the session with a colleague, we both had a great deal of experience facilitating Design Studio Workshops internally prior to bringing this to clients.

Build on Success

The next time we designed with our clients, we built upon a standard ideation process we already had at the agency. This is a process to co-create and align on the guiding principle of a product. We added on the Design Studio Workshop and didn’t spend a lot of time on each section of the ideation session. It was great to pair the two together because we aligned on our vision for the product first, then diverged on ideas that could satisfy that vision.

Mind-Blowing Ideation Time

With a few sessions with clients under our belt, we decided to go big time. We scheduled an all-day Service Design workshop with our clients. The first half of the day was a much more elaborate session of developing the Guiding Principle. The second half of the day focused on co-creating a Service Design Blueprint with our clients. It took weeks of proper planning and multiples teams in the agency. The clients said it was the very best brainstorming session they had ever attended. In the end, they had a vision of their final successful product as well as a holistic view of all of the touch points, and the gaps that needed to be addressed.

Designing with clients can take many forms, it can be short and agile or a full day deep dive. The key is to practice ahead of time until the process feels second nature. Proper planning is also key to make sure that the entire day is smooth, including explaining to clients the benefits of the process, the steps of the process, and the end results they can expect. It’s a wonderful feeling when you begin to master the skill of facilitating and are able to foster a higher caliber of work at your shop.