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Getting past “Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen” – Learning to design collaboratively

Session scheduled at 10:30-11:20 in Room 2 (Swain)

We’ve all heard the phrase “Too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth” and heard horror stories of the terrible things that result from design by committee. So when it comes to user experience design, the work is best left to the experts, right?


User experiences are complex, messy, and often have very specific needs and limitations – not unlike the people who use them and the needs they address. Learning how and when to collaborate with clients and end-users to co-create design solutions is a critical skill for anyone who designs and builds experiences – including UXers, visual designers, developers, and project managers. Collaboration doesn’t mean you give up control, or your role as the expert. But being an expert at design doesn’t make you the expert at every business, and it certainly doesn’t make you the end-user. A collaborative methodology is better than traditional methods where a team designs the solution and then gathers input. With a collaborative methodology, users and clients are co-creating the design from the outset, so you to get the right inputs, identify the faults in your thinking, and refine the solution – before you ruin the broth.

In this session we’ll talk what about it takes to be successful at co-creating a design solution, the difference between co-creating with a product team or an end-user, and how to plan, design, refine, and execute a solution successfully as a collaboration. We’ll also share tools and insights you’ll use to help collaboration go smoothly, from when to meet (or not to meet) and who to invite (or exclude).

Presented By

Mahtab Rezai

Mahtab Rezai

Mahtab is Principal and CEO at Crux Collaborative. She has spent nearly two decades as a user experience designer, researcher, strategist, leader, and mentor. She has worked on user experiences for companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 50. She has a loud laugh and a lot of shoes. She also has a lot of strong opinions and has been known to say “think about it until you agree” after expressing one of them.

Follow @ms_rezai on Twitter