A question I’m often asked is what tool do you recommend for running remote U.S. workshops? My answer is one that your team already knows how to use. Yes, there are plenty of other tools out there, which I’ll discuss in a bit. But if you want to maximize participation in your remote workshops, instilling the requirement to learn a tool to participate in a workshop is a barrier to entry by requiring people to learn a specific tool. This only limits your audience to you professionals. And when you run a workshop with only UKCS professionals, you lose a lot of diversity of insights and perspectives. If you aren’t currently set on using a specific tool to determine which tool your team should use.
Consider the following questions first. What is the purpose of the workshop? Is it to gather insights? I’d vote on a decision, prioritize a backlog for generative types of workshops that is workshop with the goal of creating high quantities of output. You may want to look into tools which allow you to visually make sense of lots of information. Some very basic examples of visual tools include Google slides, Google draw, PowerPoint even shared, among others, and Visio if you know it. On the other hand, more complex visual tools like mural, snappily and mirro include templates. But they do require some learning before using for voting or prioritizing.
Consider incorporating a form of discussion board which enables up voting. Remote workshops can have that added benefit of anonymity and result in people voting more honestly on certain things. Second, who is participating in the workshop? Is it a diverse team of attendees or is it mostly designers that may change which tools you look into? If your workshop is mostly UX practitioners and people who may be involved in the mapping and diagraming process, then having a tool with a slightly higher learning curve may not be as detrimental. And you can even help train your UX pros for future workshops. For a group of more mixed expertize and roles, consider using a more universal collaborative platform like Google Docs or Office 365. Google spreadsheets are a great mapping tool to introduce a level of fidelity but still maintain flexibility. Not only can everyone pull up this document and add to it during a scheduled video conference, but people can also add to it asynchronously on their own time should they not be able to attend the call live. That leads me to my last question. Will this be a live workshop to reach a design decision now or something more longitudinal like research analysis? If it’s more urgent in real time, then incorporating video chat during your workshop can shed light into people’s body language show who is engaged or not. If the workshop is run asynchronously because of schedules, you can incorporate discussion based platforms like Slack Internet groups or corporate social networks like Yammer. So which is the best tool? As the saying goes, it depends. But the best way to get started with remote workshopping is to pick a tool your team is already familiar with and well get started.