REVIEW: Get Started With Design Thinking: A Workshop (November 2, 2015)
Review is an ongoing series designed to recap events to give those that attended and those that missed it a chance to (re)experience the topics covered.


It was a full house at the Design Thinking Workshop this past Monday, hosted by AIGA Austin and General Assembly. And if you’ve been to the Austin WeWork space, you know the setting is ripe with VISUAL inspiration, as it’s modeled and decorated after Wes Anderson’s signature style. It was a great place to host the creative workshop.

So what is design thinking? “Design thinking is a human-centered, prototype-driven process for innovation. Our hosts Matt Eng, AIGA Austin’s Interactive Liaison, and Jessica Tremblay, AIGA Austin’s Small Talks Chair, put this same process to use in teaching the workshop. It was highly hands-on and student-centric

The workshop aimed to 1) teach PARTICIPANTS about the design thinking process and how to use it, and 2) enable GUESTS to work together to effectively apply the design thinking process. Here’s what the process looks like:

After breaking into groups, each one focused on creating a target audience — a persona. The persona was to be someone looking to get into the UX/UI field.

A solid persona is made up of hypothetical yet thought-out factors such as a name, age, title, role, skills, concerns and pain points.

My group gave life to Mary, a 38-year-old psychologist who was looking to make a career change into UX/UI while utilizing her strong communication skills and understanding of the mind.

Once we had our persona down, we focused on pain points. Each team member was given post-it notes and tasked to brainstorm pain points for the group’s persona, posting each idea on the wall. The use of sticky notes allowed everyone in the group to get everyone involved and while having the ideas visible together.

Some of Mary’s pain points included inexperience, a learning curve, busy work schedule, taking care of her kids and a lack of finances to support further education.

This was one of my favorite parts of the workshop. We divided our wall into four quadrants: what Mary feels, thinks, says and does. Again, we each wrote ideas on post-its, putting them up on the wall in the relevant section.

We saw two themes arise for Mary. First, she was scared, overwhelmed and unsure of her potential success. But on the other hand, she was motivated, fulfilled and proud of her decision.

The next part was fun. Now we had to brainstorm as many solutions as possible for Mary’s pain points. We were encouraged to explore “blue sky ideas” – thinking outside the box.

Our solutions ranged from taking online classes and starting a GoFundMe to eating a ton of ice cream and finding a “theme song for her life.”

After we had probably 50 solutions on the wall, we were tasked to divide them into themed groups, physically moving the post-its to represent each group.

We found five major themes here: networking, finances, learning, family and stress relief.

Lastly, we took a good look at the solutions and individually wireframed a product or service that would help solve our persona’s pain points.

One solution for Mary was to take up painting to relieve stress, but she still had to find time to study UX/UI and spend time with her kids.

I developed a product idea to combine this solution and solve the two other pain points: a UI color-by-number book. Each page would illustrate a good example of a website or app. Mary could color it in with certain colors. For instance, maybe she would have to color all calls-to-action green, all images orange and all text blue. This would allow Mary to relax and spend time with her kids — they could color together — while also studying.

In the end, this was a valuable workshop for beginners and pros alike. It was a good reminder of not only how to focus on user-centric design, but also how to utilize visual brainstorming tactics and work within a team.


-Photos by Paula Horstman

By Jess Warren, freelance graphic designer. Find her over at
Published November 13, 2015