Can playing with Lego help you design better websites? A new, entirely serious, document from a Swiss team claims it can. URL – User Requirements with Lego is a process that creative teams can go through to help work out the best ways of communicating online.
Why Lego? Apparently because it’s simple to use; is known by most people; offers shapes and colours to aid with inspiration; can be built into simple or complex forms and is used in many different cultures. The process is based on an official Lego initiative called Serious Play, which looks to get all kinds of businesses using Lego to enhance their innovation and performance.
The idea is that teams working on an online project get together for 3 to 4 hours, for a session led by an expert in URL. During that time, they create models from Lego, attribute metaphorical meanings to them and share those meanings with the rest of the group as a story.
After a few warmup exercises that see participants building their dream or nightmare colleague and competing to build the tallest tower they can out of Lego, participants have to take part in a range of tasks.
Tasks as part of the URL programme include:
- Build a model that represents your role in the project, your contribution, what you can do in the project.
- Build a model that represents a relevant user type of the web application. More than names, the models represent the main features of specific users, and why/how/when they might use the website.
- Work as a team to create a landscape of individual Lego objects in a way that represents the website.
- Build a model that represents the most relevant/important content item or functionality in the web site.
In all, there are eight tasks, after which participants should (in theory) have thrashed out a perfect website for the project at hand.
To be honest, it’s all a little baffling to this observer. One thing’s for sure, anything that allows grown adults to play around with Lego in the name of work sounds good to us.
You can find out more by downloading the guide to running URL sessions by entering your name and email address on the project’s website.