Online Workshop- Venture Design V: Designing the Right Product

Learning Objectives


This workshop links the design output from the prior Venture Design workshops to a systematic view of how to structure your focal points and perspective on the venture’s objective into a set of actionable inputs for product development. This workshop introduces concepts around the use of agile user stories, storyboarding, prototyping, and wireframing.  The learning objectives are:

  1. Hands-on experience linking agile user stories and storyboards to personas and value propositions
  2. Techniques for decomposing your idea into a set of UI components and then selecting and diagnosing the applicability of comparable existing implementations
  3. Know-how and do’s + dont’s for creating prototypes and wireframes
  4. Ability to quickly and effectively develop a set of relevant visual guidelines for your product and related materials


The following are the workshop slides, on SlideShare:


This is a video of yours truly delivering the explanatory portions of the workshop.

Preparation & Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites. While the other Venture Design workshops are designed to precede this workshop, the workshop works fine on a stand-alone basis.

Instructor notes: The checklists below describe ‘minimum viable preparation’ and additional related preparation.

Minimum Viable Preparation

  1. Review the slides
  2. Prep the materials below

Additional Preparation

Review the tutorials on the underlying tools and frameworks from the exercises:

  1. Personas
  2. Lean Startup
  3. Business Model Canvas

If you’re interested in the surrounding body of work on Venture Design, see that link and if you’re interested in a structure program for product design & entre/intra-preneurship, check out Startup Sprints.


1. Index Cards

While Post-It’s are more in fashion for design workshop type events, these exercises are designed around index cards. The reason is that the students will progressively layer more information on to the cards. That said, use whatever works for you; just make sure to review the exercises and have advice for your participants on how they’ll organize their work. I do not recommend doing these on the computer- it tends to create writers block and a desire to create something more permanent than this material is meant to be.

2. A Product Idea to Work

Since the workshop involves sitting down and creating storyboards, all the participants will need to have an idea to use. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in an advance state of planning- as long as they generally know what it is and who it’s for, I think you’ll find it’s sufficient. For those without an idea (or wondering what level of description will work), here are some sample ideas: Venture Concepts.

3. Storyboarding Squares

Cutting-Storyboard-Squares STORYBOARDING SQUARES

For workshops, group exercises, and generally getting started with storyboarding, I like to use these paper squares and a sharpie/pen. The PDF you can download here has a set of typical scenes which you can print out and use. They do need to be cut or ripped since there are two/page. You’ll find cutting marks and the individual pages and what I actually like to do is use a metal ruler and just rip them (see left). I created them with the online tool, and you may find you want to go there and create your own (not to mention creating digital storyboards once you’re ready). If you want to use the above squares in the PDF on, you can copy the storyboard template using the preceding link.

Workshop Agenda

120 Minutes

ID Item Time (min.) Materials & Technique
Intro to Agile 5 Slides 2-10

The workshop is hands-on and students should have an idea they’ll use through the exercises. Their own idea will be much better, but if they don’t have one there are a set of predefined ideas here: Venture Concepts.In a perfect world, the students review these and select an idea in advance (so they’re already a little familiar with it before they start the workshop).

Exercise: Write an agile epic 5 Slide 11

Materials: index cards (or whatever)

Make sure the participants are clear that a product will have many epics and that the epic isn’t a kind of summary story for the whole product. For some reason, this misunderstanding occurs a lot. I’m working on a solution.

Exercise: create a storyboard for the epic 10 Slide 12
Materials: Storyboarding Squares
Draft four agile user stories in support of the epic and its storyboard 10 Slides 13-15

Materials: index cards

Peer presentations on storyboard and stories 10 Slide 16
Notes: That’s 5 min/each
About prototyping 10 Slides 17-23
Break 10
(~ 1 hr)
Exercise: select comp’s 5 Slide 24

If the students aren’t online with a computer, it’s best to just skip this and leave it for them to think about. Or, if you’re in a very small group, do it together off of the projector or shared computer.

Present comp’s 6 Slide 25

Notes: Select three students to present at 2 min/each

About wireframing and drafting for applications 5 Slides 26-35
Exercise: set up Balsamiq on Gmail/Google App’s 5 Slide 36
Exercise: do a Balsamiq mockup 15 Slide 37

If adding Balsamiq isn’t desired, use any tool- pencil and paper is fine. The less structure the tool has, the more you’ll want to get the students to anchor their draft in comp’s and existing UI metaphors.

Peer presentations 10 Slide 38
About branding and visual communication 5 Slides 39-42

There are a series of exercises mentioned here. They’re not part of the 2 hour design, but if you have more time you may want to have the students do them in class. It will add roughly 30 minutes to the session time.

Recap and close 10 Slides 43-47