Research through design sketching scaled up

Last month I led a workshop session on collaborative sketching where over 60 colleagues explored potential design approaches and generated around 300 ideas in an hour.

The workshop took place at an awayday for our part of the University – Learning, Teaching and Web Division of Information Services – and was attended by a broad cross section of developers, designers, managers, administrators, training and support staff amongst others.

Groups of people sketching

Over 60 colleagues participated in my collaborative sketching workshop

The aim of the session wasn’t to actually contribute to solving a design problem as such; rather I was introducing a new technique which hopefully has inspired colleagues to try on their projects in the future.

In the session, we considered the University website’s 404-error page; the ‘Page not found’ message when we encounter a broken link.

Person presenting in front of flipchart

At the end of the session, some of the design ideas were presented back to the group.


These are the slides I used on the day, which include links to further reading and the resources I used.

Collaborative sketching – research through design from Neil Allison


Flipchart containing design sketches

We generated over 300 design ideas in an hour.


The session went down very well I think, with lots of engagement and positive comments throughout.

It was an excellent session, thanks for running it. I can see ways that we might employ the technique in other contexts…

Jo Spiller, Head of Educational Design & Engagement

What did you think?

If you came along to the session, let me know what you thought via the comments below. Is this something you might use in future?

Get help

If this technique sounds like something that would help your project, but you’re not confident to run yourself get in touch to discuss how we might help you.

Get in touch with the University Website Programme


  • Faye Richards says:

    The organisation of the workshop was great and I really enjoyed learning about this technique. Following the workshop, I used the technique on one of my own projects a few days later and it was extremely effective and helpful. Thank you!

  • Arthur Verkaik says:

    A creative tour de force by the LTW staff. I thought it was really interesting how this technique can be used to generate hundreds of ideas from a comparatively small number of people. Great job!

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