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Overview: Design thinking: Take control of sketching, ideation and design studios

In hindsight, every great idea seems obvious. But how can you be the person who comes up with those ideas?

Iterative design is now widely accepted as best practice for designing easy-to-use technology. However, all too often when developing early design concepts, designers get fixated on a small number of design solutions and do not fully explore the potential design space. Instead, they tend to resort to one or two solutions they have seen in the past, or a solution that is currently in vogue. Like evolution, design works best when dozens of different design ideas are generated, refined and a few of the best are iterated upon.

Although most design teams want to generate a variety of designs, they often fail to do so because they feel insufficiently creative. But creativity — ‘design thinking’ — can be learnt like other user interface design skills. This seminar reveals the practitioner secrets behind sketching and divergent thinking and will teach you how to think like a user experience design pro. As well as a set of comprehensive notes, you will leave the seminar with ideas, sketches and thinking techniques that you will be able to apply immediately to your work.

“Great idea generation techniques.” – Gemma Kinnear, HSBC.

Printable pdf course description for this seminar

Suggested business case to convince your boss (MS Word format).

About your trainer

David Travis

This seminar is led by Dr. David Travis, the author of Think Like a UX Researcher. David has more than 20 years experience in the field of user centred design and has delivered over 100 seminars in usability for a range of private and public sector organisations.

David Travis Dr. David Travis (@userfocus) This seminar is led by Dr. David Travis. David has more than 20 years experience in the field of user centred design and has delivered over 100 seminars in usability for a range of private and public sector organisations. He spent 12 months coaching business analysts in HMRC to transition to a user research role and was commissioned by GDS to create this course and deliver it to user researchers throughout Government.

This design thinking workshop is aimed at

This course is for you if you are looking for ways to break out of the mental blocks of user interface design. This is a hands-on course and is most effective for delegates who have day-to-day responsibility for designing user interfaces within their organisation. Your job title might be user researcher, UX designer, front-end developer or you might be a UX team of one. Delegates are encouraged to bring existing design problems along to the seminar so that we can solve them on the day (in this way the seminar acts like a 1-day hothouse for design ideas). The course will also be valuable for project managers who want to understand design principles or who want to see examples of early design deliverables. Note: you will be doing a lot of sketching on this course but you do not need to be able to draw.

You will learn how to

  • Learn the fundamental vocabulary of sketching user interfaces.
  • Practice sketching out design ideas for user interfaces.
  • Create narrative storyboards to help your team get a shared understanding of the context of use.
  • Use photographs as source material for your sketches.
  • Generate dozens of solutions to user interface design problems, using novel thinking techniques.
  • Run an effective Design Studio with your Agile team.
  • Draw higher fidelity design solutions to test your hypotheses with users and to seed electronic prototypes.

Seminar content

Introduction What is design thinking?

  • Iterative design and modern software development.
  • Convergent and divergent thinking: both have their place.

How to sketch when you can't draw

  • 4 tips for sketching.
  • The sketcher's vocabulary: straight lines, circles and squares.
  • The different types of marker pen and how to use them to make your sketches look good.
  • Activity: Sketch some simple user interface concepts.


  • How storyboards capture the context of use.
  • The different cinematic shots and how to use them in your storyboard.
  • How anyone can use photo-tracing to create storyboards like a pro.
  • A 6-frame storyboard pattern that works every time.
  • How to use design comics for electronic storyboarding.
  • Syndicate activity: Storyboard a design solution.

From one design solution to dozens: harnessing the Design Studio Methodology

  • How to use 'Suggestion Box' to create hundreds of design ideas.
  • How to build on your most interesting idea with 'Turn it up to 11' and 'Reverse it'.
  • Create more ideas by slicing and dicing the context of use.
  • Build upon your ideas by understanding 7 behavioural nudges.
  • Pushing further with design principles.
  • Syndicate activity: Design dozens of solutions to an existing design problem.

From divergence to convergence

  • Refining your best design ideas.
  • Syndicate activity: Sketch some higher fidelity UI solutions that bring it all together.

Summary and Wrap-Up

  • Brief review of the key topics.
  • Final opportunity for questions.

What delegates say about this seminar

  • “Excellent — very pleased!” – Andy Duke, First Direct.
  • “I now feel more confident in my sketching abilities and in describing myself as a ‘designer’.”
  • “Really good content… Good techniques to generate new ideas.”
  • “Because I don't have a design background, I wasn't sure what to expect. I really enjoyed it, it has definitely improved my confidence.”
  • “It has got me thinking differently. Proves brainstroming by sketching all ideas down is a creative, practical approach.”
  • “Made me feel more creative.”

What do I get when I book this course?

  • 1 day design studio workshop with a usability expert.
  • Practical checklists, worksheets and extensive notes to take home.
  • A proper, air-conditioned learning environment.
  • Lunch and refreshments throughout the day.

More details on what you get.


This course lasts one day.

How do I book?

There are no scheduled dates for this course. If you want us to run this seminar as a public course, click on the button below. Once we get 8 like-minded individuals we'll organise a public course and let you know.

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