My product team and I attempted to conduct a participatory design exercise with some users.

We printed out some blank mobile screen templates on an 11" x 17" piece of paper and asked them to draw what they think the app should look like.

Many of them were apprehensive to attempting sketching a UI, which I can definitely understand. Some users even politely declined to pick up a pen and draw anything.

What are some best practices for conducting such activities with users? Any success stories you can share for context?

1 Answer 1


I just recently ran a small co-design exercise with participants and saw some hesitation as you were explaining. A few things that helped were:

  • Ensuring the participants a few times (some people get so self conscious that they might not hear it the first time) that it was not a test of them or their drawing skills, and it was just a way for us to really understand what they were thinking.
    • If that didn't work I would tell them my drawing skills were not good either and try to sketch something really quick to set the expectations.
    • Another way was to provide options. Some people find a blank piece of paper overwhelming so having cutouts of design elements, post its, pictures and even printouts and cutouts of some designs we had was something they could start off with.

Here are also some resources that I found helpful:

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