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Author's profile photo Jodi Fleischman

Charette: Collaborative Redesign of the Community Homepages

Notice anything different on SCN? 

The main community homepages have been updated with a new cleaner look.

What made this redesign effort particularly interesting was the collaborative and idea-generating process.

The SCN Editorial Team (which I’m part of) met with the KMCC User Experience team to discuss our design project.  They offered to lead an engaging (and fun!) design workshop called a charrette. The term charrette (“cart” or “chariot” in French), is defined simply as an intense design activity. It has interesting roots in the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Our “charette” involved gathering a diverse group of individuals with strong interests in the content and design of the community homepages. They would be required to submit ideas that would influence the final design solution. Our group included designers, non-designers, stakeholders, page editors, users, an SAP Mentor, and several spectators.  Kirsten Gay, Manager on the KMCC User Experience team, led the workshop.

Day 1 :  We met with participants to give an overview of the workshop and outline the homepage goals, and desired enhancements.  Each participant would use these requirements to develop their design concept. This could be completed in any number of formats: as a flow diagram, as collage of screen grabs, as a PPT diagram, as a pencil sketches- any way to portray your concept visually.  Some worked independantly, others as a group.

Day 2: Proposals due! The second day we met for several hours to review the proposals and participate in a collaborative final sketch. Eight sketches were submitted – each with an incredible amount of ideas, and detail. Each participant had 10 minutes to present their “dog and pony” show, which include a few minutes of group discussion. It really was a superior way to exchange ideas (rather than using PPT slides 🙂 ). The themes included: 2010 design trends, social media trends, what does/doesn’t work on the existing page, dynamic content spinners, etc, etc.

The last half hour was the collaborative sketch, where we worked together to distill the ideas down to one final sketch. In real-time our moderator, Kirsten, facilitated and sketched out our ideas. With the help of Adobe Connect, a marker and paper- we could all participate and see the final sketch come together. First we described the page structure, then the must have elements, then the favorable new ideas just discovered in the sketches. While she drew, the group would discuss the pros and cons to this location or that treatment. It was a way to get everyone’s voice heard, and to debate the different ideas…real-time.

Visual showing our collaborative sketch (upper left), and several of the design concept submissions.

The final sketch that Kirsten put together is now reflected in the new homepage design. It’s the combined effort of many individuals. Of course not all ideas could be implemented (IT implementation is a separate story 🙂 ), so we have our road map concepts in place and those will be coming soon.

Thanks to the Platform team and UI developers for bringing the redesign online in time for TechEd. And special thanks to the KMCC UX team, Kirsten, for leading the Charette. As promised, it was a fun engaging idea-generating design process, that I would recommend to all design teams.

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