Card Sorting workshops are an integral part of our (and probably your) website project. Possibly a little less common is taking that to the next level. Our client wanted a new approach to their website relaunch, and had never tried Design Thinking. We wanted to give their team the chance to let their imaginations loose and let them imagine a persona (target group) and how the website would serve that persona's needs.
12 people representing the various stakeholders met together to think about the university website, to identify problems with it, and to generate ideas on how it can be improved.
Three teams of four people explored using the website as a unique personality - one group chose to be the parent of a potential student coming from abroad, one as a potential local UG student, and one as a potential donor and business partner.
Each team first tried to put themselves into the persona of their visitor, to better empathise and define who they were, what they wanted, and how our website might serve their needs. Then each team identified key ideas and user needs, and prioritised them. Finally each team created a protoype of a website that would best suit the specific needs of their persona.
Too often websites are defined by the internal users and structured along the internal architecture of the institution. This discovery task was an important step to understand how the website would be viewed and used by external users.
You can read more on creating Personas to develop user stories here:
If you would like more information on Design Thinking you can read this blog from Stanford University which overviews the process in more detail, and is in fact very well written.