UX Lisbon: Design Games

by Luke Wroblewski May 14, 2010

At User Experience Lisbon (UX LX), Donna Spencer talked about Design Games you can play with your team and with potential users of your product to elicit ideations and information in fun ways. Here's my notes from her presentation:

  • A design game is something you can do in a project situation to get valuable information in a fun way. They are hands-on and engage participants both physically and mentally.
  • Design games get real involvement from people and help teams communicate ideas to get everyone on the same page.

Games you can play with users

  • Design the box: figure out the packaging your product will go into. Helps get people to focus on key themes, generate ideas for the name, tag lines, etc. This forces you to distill ideas into only a few words and features.
  • Design the homepage: helps people think through the main ideas of a Web site. Key issues come out pretty quickly when people design the perfect home page for themselves.
  • Divide the dollar: gives you a way to prioritize options, features, etc. by asking people to allocate an amount of money to each element.
  • Metadata games: helps understand how people describe particular things. Ask people to label elements relevant to your product.
  • Free-listing: how many things can you list that are relevant to ...? Gets people to tell you the terms they use and gives you some context about how they think about a problem.
  • Card sorting: usually not considered a game. But the process of organizing concepts can have rewards, time pressure, or other game elements.

Games to play with your team

  • Idea cards: good for when you are trying to generate ideas. Start with relevant words on a set of cards and ask people to come up with an idea that includes the term on the card like: audience, simple, identity, color, etc.
  • Reversal: instead of tackling a problem head on –turn it around and solve the anti-problem. After you have anti-solutions, apply the ideas to the actual problem.
  • You need to plan design games effectively. Make sure there is a clear purpose –something you want out of it. Otherwise people might wonder why they are doing it. Determine the outcome you want from the session. Think through the rules, constraints, the form of the output, and how people will be involved.
  • To make existing activities more game like: create a time limit, create an opportunity to win, or introduce collaborative elements.