Core principles and best practices for HCD workshops

Here we will share the core principles and best practices for HCD workshops

  1. Develop a clear intent: set objectives for the workshop and the outcome to be achieved. Try to narrow it to 3-4 objectives maximum per workshop.

  2. Define the right participants guided by the four voices of design: the Voice of intent, the voice of expertise, the voice of experience, and the voice of design.

  3. Be agile: Facilitating workshops requires a high level of adaptability to get the best outcome. Things don’t always go as planned, so don’t stick to a process that is not giving you the right outcome.

  4. Design the mood you want for the workshop: prepare materials that create an environment for that mood. E.g., an ideation workshop requires high levels of creativity hence creative activities should be a core part of the session.

In this new article, YUX Design shares a case study on a product iteration workshop (PIW). Here is a short summary, and lots of details in the article!

The PIW is a 3 steps process:

1. Before the workshop
Prototyping, Research, Testing, Synthesis.

2. During the workshop
Data sharing, Prospective workshop, Ideation, Wireframes, and user flow design.

3. After the workshop
Creation of Miro board, Report, Update of prototypes, Handover.

We have broken down the journey of conducting an ideation workshop into three distinct steps:

  1. Preparation
  2. Execution
  3. Post-workshop

With the preparation step, as the name suggests, this step focuses on all activities leading to the actual delivery of the ideation workshop. This includes the development of the workshop agenda, identification of the right participants, development of the materials such as templates and identification of a facilitator who will guide the conversations to the intended income.

Some important resources to put together during this step include ideation workshops and concept development sheets.

The execution step is the most critical step as it entails walking with the users to develop ideas and solutions. This step requires a lot of creativity and inspiration, and it’s therefore important to create an atmosphere for creativity. You can do this using creative activity or using videos. Managing group dynamics is a critical part of facilitating ideation workshops. Oftentimes, outspoken participants may take over conversations. It is crucial that all participants feel empowered to share their ideas freely.

What does an ideation process look like?

We start with rapid ideation, where participants are presented with a design challenge or how might we question which they generate ideas for. The rule is to prioritize quantity over quality at the beginning of this process. This also works best when people come up with ideas individually and then share the ideas with their groups to see if someone has also come up with a similar idea.

After rapid ideation, groups should cluster their ideas into groups of related ideas. After this process, the groups can vote for their top three ideas, and the most voted ideas are developed into concepts.

The outcome of an ideation workshop is, therefore, a set of concepts addressing a particular problem. Documentation is key during this entire process.


After the workshop, the core team involved in organizing the workshop should come together to synthesize the outcomes of the workshop in order to refine the ideas and develop testing plans for the concepts.

After an ideation workshop, it is helpful for the core team to have some reflections and one of the tools we use is the reflection sheet on the slide which entails answering critical questions.

Reflection on an ideation session template:
Reflection sheet.pptx.pdf (23.4 KB)

Case #1:

Case #2

From Oliver’s notes:

"The Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) partnership is an ambitious public-private partnership aimed at reducing rates of HIV among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in the highest HIV burden countries. DREAMS was announced on World AIDS Day 2014, and since 2015 has expanded from the original 10 to 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, eSwatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe and Haiti.​

The D.R.E.A.M.S program dubbed “SMART Girls” is implemented in Zimbabwe in Manicaland Province in three districts - Chipinge, Makoni, and Mutare, respectively. It provides a range of primary and secondary interventions for three age groups, including 10 to 14, 15 to 19, and 20 to 24. The SMART Girls Program is focused on primary package interventions and refers girls in need of secondary interventions to other organizations. The project is geared toward the following key objectives:​

1. Identifying the key barriers and motivators of primary package completion among 20 to 24-year-olds through profiling the segment of girls taking part in the DREAMS curriculum and further understanding and mapping their journeys from recruitment to curriculum completion to advocacy; and​
2. Co-designing solutions with the young women to address the barriers identified in the journey maps.​

Based on the above, PSH, in partnership with the FACT, seeks to develop, test, and scale a SMART Girls program that is inclusive and one that has minimal dropout cases from young women. ​

Subsequently, ThinkPlace is working hand in hand with PSH to introduce a Human-Centered Design (HCD) approach through in-depth interactions with AGYWs, parents and caregivers, facilitators, and community influencers from three districts in Zimbabwe to address the underlying barriers to the key objectives highlighted above. The HCD process is described below:​

** We first started by understanding the uncertainty. By harvesting information, we identified patterns and developed our insights.​*

** We are currently conceptualizing what changes to the system may look like, rapidly prototyping, testing early, and refining - always with the user at the center.​*

We look forward to designing and building up on the final concepts; this will result in more clarity and focus, a clear way forward with operational requirements in place, and key metrics & indicators for success"