Success story: empowering visual collaboration at UserTesting

Written by 
Maura Hoven
February 2, 2020
Three UserTesting workers are using mural on a big monitor to work together with a team on video call.

Their story

UserTesting takes a collaborative, design-led approach to product development. For them, this starts with team building and creating team norms, making it safe and normal to collaborate using visual methods. They understand that this change doesn't happen overnight, and forcing inexperienced teams into grandiose design sessions can be stressful and counter-productive.

For Maura, it was about taking the existing design methodologies that she was familiar with and figuring out how to apply them to her mostly-remote team of designers, engineers and researchers. Her solution is an approach that alleviates the pressure and cognitive burden of lengthy ideation sessions while making sure everyone's engaged and learning together.

"MURAL makes it safe and normal to collaborate and share feedback using visual methods. We can creatively solve day-to-day and large scale problems together." — MAURA HOVEN Senior Product Designer, UserTesting

Her team incorporates design exercises into mini-methods -- abbreviated activities around concept sorting, voting, ideation sessions and the like -- that can be incorporated into daily stand-ups or weekly meetings to get people involved, on board, and to make design thinking a habit. By using the mini-methods approach her interdisciplinary team can flex their design muscles gradually while arming them to solve both day-to-day and large scale problems, together.

A classic ideation session framed around a 'How Might We' (HMW) prompt is an exercise Maura uses with the team.

Two key steps for this mini-method:

  1. Prepare the team by formulating and sharing the HMW prompt in advance.

  2. Frame the rules and provide any necessary context.

It's important to come to any work session with a clear, time-boxed agenda in hand for efficiency and productivity.

How they do it

  1. Use mini-methods to have more frequent, shorter touchpoints instead of intense, heavy design sessions. This alleviates the pressure for the team to bring all of their design goodness into one session, and is easier to fit in alongside day-to-day obligations.
  2. Get into MURAL often for regular collaborative sessions to practice and flex creative problem solving muscles - so they're ready when really tough problems come about.
  3. Incorporate a culture of using pre-work and giving people a chance to fully prepare for meetings. Not everyone feels like they can come up with amazing ideas on the fly - give them a chance to be ready.

Take action


This mini-method template is ready to be duplicated and used with your own team.

Create a mural in your workspace from the template below:

About the authors

About the authors

Maura Hoven

Maura Hoven

Senior Product Designer
Maura is a product designer with over a decade of experience spanning hardware and software. At UserTesting, she designs product features that connect customers with the best testers.

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