One hour workshop: refresh your website


If you’ve got limited time or budget to refresh your website and need a plan to take to a developer, here’s how to run a workshop in just one hour to create it


Is there anyone in your organisation who doesn’t have an opinion on your website? Anyone who wouldn’t quite enjoy telling you how cluttered it is, or how they can never find anything, or how their mum still can’t understand what you do when she looks at it?

Everyone has an opinion on your website, but no one wants to tackle it.

That’s because brilliant web design and construction takes time and money, and a set of specialist skills to implement. I’ve led the redevelopment of platforms for organisations including the BBC Proms, Energy Systems Catapult and TEDxLondon that took varying amounts of time and process, but recently had just one hour to work with a team to understand what they really wanted to achieve from refreshing their site.

I designed a quick workshop that gave huge payoff. If you’re limited on time, budget or both but need a plan to take to a developer, here’s how to create it. For the purposes of this exercise, I’m assuming that you have already identified specific pain points with your site, such as abandoned carts or low email sign-up rates, and are looking for a way to get a broad overview of what your site should do.

What you’ll need

  • A team of at least five people

  • A stack of Post-it notes and pens

  • A blank wall

  • A camera to photograph each stage

State the aim (2 minutes)

Set a clear aim for the session so that your team understands what they’re going to achieve within the hour and doesn’t go off on a tangent about colour schemes and images.

Reassure the team that this is not a technical exercise, they do not have to be experts in how websites work - in fact, it’s a huge bonus sense check if they are novices.

Brainstorm target audience members (5 minutes)

Ask the team to each write down on individual Post-it notes who they believe the target audience members are for the website. Be specific, eg a year six primary school teacher or a policy officer at the local council.

Share target audience members with the rest of the team (5 minutes)

Ask the team to place the Post-it notes on the wall.

Can they see categories that allow them to collect some Post-it notes together? Write a name for each group on a separate Post-it and place it with the relevant group.

Take a photo of the notes on the wall.


Review the target audience groups (10 minutes)

Ask the team:

  • Why did you make each of these groups?

  • Which Post-it note is the best example of each group?

  • Which groups were easiest to assemble? Hardest? Why?

Prioritise the target audience groups (10 minutes)

The groups that were easiest to assemble give you a clear steer on which are the priority ones. Now, together, move the notes with the group names and best example around on the wall until you have a scale of importance, concentrating on your top three to five groups.

Take a photo of the priority scale.

Identify user needs (10 minutes)

Split the team into as many sub-teams as you have target audience groups, so three to five. On individual Post-it notes, ask each sub-team to write down each of the things the target audiences should be able to achieve on the website: get contact details, find out when your next event is, buy your latest book.

Don’t worry about features of the technology or design. This is about user needs, not solutions.

Prioritise the user needs (15 minutes)

As a team, prioritise each user need according to the MoSCoW technique, writing ‘must’, ‘should’, ‘could’ or ‘would like’ on each Post-it note.

Are there any needs that are a ‘must’ for one group but the corresponding version is only a ‘could’ for another group?

Take a final photo of the notes wall.


Give a wrap-up and next steps (3 minutes)

You’ve done it: in one hour you’ve created a set of prioritised user needs for your key audience groups. Ensure that the team understands what you’re going to do next - I’d suggest typing this up into a spreadsheet with full user stories attached (‘As a user, I must/should/could/would like…’) and allow a window during which time the team can review and amend the information they came up with.

After this, you have a template that can be used to brief a developer, who will come up with solutions to meet the needs you have outlined.

If you have time and capacity, you can also turn these into user journeys first. Either way, let me know in the comments how you get on if you try it out with your team.

Don’t forget to stash all those Post-it notes away safely.

Further reading

If this has whetted your appetite for user experience work, try Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research*

Realised you don’t actually have a strategy for your web presence? Time to Plan Your Website*


*These are affiliate links. This means that I make a small percentage of the revenue if you click through and makes a purchase, but at no extra cost to you.