Usability Consulting Services


Requirements Gathering

Customer Interviews
   and Profiles

Competitive Analysis


Whiteboard Design Sessions

UI Guidelines and Standards


Expert Reviews

Usability Testing

User Acceptance Testing

Usability Staffing and Usability Management Services

Remote Mentoring

Team Management

Adjunct Staffing

How We Do Business

Useful Products

Terms and Conditions

No Risk Usability

About The Usability Team



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The Usability Team, Customer Extranet

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Whiteboard Design Sessions

Is your product design or development process not yielding results as fast as you'd like? Is your team suffering from analysis paralysis or scope creep? Whiteboard design sessions facilitated by The Usability Team help product teams who are confronted with a variety of challenges:

  • Uncertainty about how to transition requirements data to on-the-glass design.
  • Difficulty reaching consensus.
  • Challenges in understanding (and respecting) differences of opinion and perspective.


Convening a talented group of professionals in a structured environment with an experienced moderator will jump start your product's design process. Team members who participate in a whiteboard design session will have a common understanding of the business domain, technical solution, and on-the-glass implementation that is impossible to achieve if everyone reads the spec back at their desks.

The mock-ups that are created during whiteboard design sessions can be used as input to the development process and are also perfect for user group review.


Whiteboard design sessions have a lot in common with paper prototyping and rapid prototyping. Successful design sessions can take a variety of forms, but here is a typical pattern:

  1. Hold an introductory meeting with whiteboard champions to determine overall goals, scope, timeframe, and team roster for the whiteboard sessions.
  2. Hold a half-day (or less) working session with core whiteboard team to establish the format of the whiteboard sessions.
  3. Begin the first of a series of half-day whiteboard sessions with core whiteboard team and stakeholders. These will be intense, multi-disciplinary working sessions, so plan on turning off phones and not answering email. There will be a great deal of work for your team between sessions, including: prototyping design ideas, researching requirements, investigating questions about task flow. The exact number of whiteboard sessions can be bounded, left open, or tied to a completion criteria.

How Long Does it Take?

Overall Process: 4-6 weeks, or more.

As you can probably tell, the up-front work for a whiteboard design session is significant. The nature of the up-front work differs depending on what state the project is in. For example, projects that are paralyzed by scope creep or differences of opinion will have a different planning process than projects that are basically a greenfield design.

The six-week time span for this activity consists of the following:

  • Preparing for the activity (a couple of weeks.)
  • Holding weekly design sessions where we incrementally design the product.

The total duration of the whiteboard activity depends on how many increments we need to design your product. 


Whiteboard design sessions may be conducted during Plan or Develop phases. When they are conducted during the Planning phase of a software development method (SDM), they are truly part of planning and early design. When they are conducted during the Develop phase of an SDM, they are usually motivated by a sense of "triage." 

Questions Answered

When designers, developers, business people, and domain experts start talking and sketching, all sorts of questions get answered:

  • IT asks questions about business rules, e.g., "What exactly is this business object?"
  • Business asks questions about UI, e.g., "When you say drop-down menu, what do you mean? Can you just make it work like Microsoft Excel?"
  • Domain experts ask questions about workflow, e.g., "So, will I still have to print this out and take it to my manager for approval?"

The Usefulness Characteristic

Whiteboard design sessions touch on all three of the factors that contribute to usefulness:

  • Usability is enabled by involving end-users early in the development process.
  • Quality is enabled by stabilizing the product design earlier than it might otherwise have been stabilized.
  • Market Fit is supported by providing early prototypes that can be taken to user groups.

Rapid prototyping, whiteboard design sessions, and paper prototyping services from The Usability Team.

Looks easy to put stuff on the glass, doesn't it?

Perhaps it is, but then add the following personalities to the mix: a developer, a business analyst, an end user, and a third-line manager.

Now lead them to consensus and design a usable product.

That's what The Usability Team enjoys doing.

The Usability Team - Usability Consulting Services

Copyright © 2007 - Scott Butler and Richard Gunther. All rights reserved.