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Introducing a workshop involving a variety of members
Thoroughly tackling self analysis and analysis of the competition from the user's perspective
Using "prototyping" to visualize ideas in a short period of time

On May 11th 2012, seven Loftwork members and eight ZKAI members gathered at ZKAI Co.,Ltd in Mishima City, Shizuoka, to carry out a day workshop.

Experiencing the power of collective wisdom in a workshop with a variety of members

The construction and management of a website does not end with just one supervising department. Every year people throughout a company wonder aloud about how to organize and implement various web site issues. They wonder how to instill the significance of their policies in each department. Satoshi Mizoroki, head of web publicity in ZKAI's advertising and publicity department, turned to Loftwork for an opportunity to include employees besides just "the usual web management people" in going back to the user's perspective and organizing the direction of the next steps to web development.

At Loftwork, we have been offering our clients workshops on various themes such as "access analysis research" and "social engagement research" for several years. We facilitated an especially creative environment in 2012, when we adopted "project design" as our keyword and proactively carried out workshops even for general projects.

The aim of this workshop was to lay foundations and guidelines for ZKAI's next web development project, "weeding out things that need improvement when looking at the website from the user's perspective" and "discussing amongst members of varying perspectives to produce creative ideas that are difficult to produce in everyday business"

"What kind of person are you?": Introductions and empathy mapping

10:00 am. After a simple explanation of the day's schedule, the workshop started with "other introductions" instead of self introductions. Loftwork members and ZKAI members who didn't know each other paired up, interviewed each other, and introduced each other to everyone as a game. Compared to self introductions, this had the effect of putting each person's background and interesting experiences in the spotlight, and some of the introductions stepped into very private territory.

Next, using a technique called "empathy mapping", a simple profile was created of the site targets to be discussed in the day's group work. ZKAI's main distance learning clients were divided into four groups, such as "parents and guardians" and "test takers". Then participants wrote things they often heard from each group and the concerns they had on sticky notes, clarifying the character of each group.

The process of "throwing out ideas, organizing them and writing them with thick felt-tip pens" is often used in brainstorming sessions and workshops. Even just by talking while doing something with their hands, the people sitting at the table are gradually bonded and begin to feel like a "team".

Becoming the user and comparing ZKAI's website with its rivals

After those two light activities, we began the main activity of "competition analysis" and "self analysis". We took an hour in the morning to carefully observe competing company websites, listing "good points" and "points that should be improved". After the lunch break, we did the same thing with ZKAI's own website. This time we also came up with proposals to improve the "points that should be improved", and used stickers to vote on good ideas.

As part of this process, we prepared four different "scenarios" that might occur for each type of user browsing the website. The workshop participants became users, using smart phones, tablets, and PCs to analyze the website from various angles.

Building the skeleton of a website with pen and paper

In the final stage of the workshop, we wrote down the ideas that came up in our self analysis as more concrete "prototypes". Two of our four groups created "content maps" to organize the structure of pages and their contents for the whole website (or part of it). Loftwork producers in these groups composed the structure of the website while giving advice from a producer's perspective on the flow leading users to the end goal (= membership or requesting materials).

The other two groups came up with two pages each of more concrete "page layout charts (wireframes)". They created detailed pages while tweaking the placement of menus and navigation bars, paying attention to the flow of each page's contents. With the help of experienced Loftwork directors, it seemed as if they were really designing an actual website.

In the last hour, ZKAI employees presented the website prototypes they'd completed in this short time period to senior members who hadn't been present for the activity. After a question and answer session, the day's workshop was finished after a total of 7 hours.

Even 7 hours is "not enough time"!

Afterwards, survey responses from the ZKAI members who participated were generally "satisfied"! Many people had a "stimulating experience" taking off the "frames" they are normally stuck in without realizing it, going back to the user's perspective and working with members of another company. It seems we can say that we achieved just the results we were aiming for.

And as for the fact that we took a whole day, some participants said that "it was a long time, but it went by very quickly", "there almost wasn't enough time", and "it's too bad the time was so short". It would become like a "retreat" if we made it any longer, but perhaps it was a bit much to finish everything from careful analysis of the current situation to proposing solutions in one day.

The output of this day will be used as valuable ideas for "subject lists" for the next project, and also for concrete policy discussions. Loftwork is continuing to work with ZKAI as its web strategy partner, giving shape to participants' questions of "So, what exactly should we do?" and engaging in constant web development.

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*The contents, customer information and the information of the director in charge, are all based on the time of publication of this article. There may be possible changes now.

Voice of Customer

ZKAI Co.,Ltd
Mr.Satoshi Mizoroki

“A workshop in which participants come from a variety of departments, as well as Loftwork staff. By joining in scenarios in which one acts as a customer, it is possible to get to the point that is often missed, of understanding the customer's point of view.

In an environment different from every day, we were able to delve into ideas and viewpoints that would normally go without further investigation of the individual or team level. Also, since there were case studies and opinions of a web professional, it went very smooth, and I got the impression that it was a discussion that left everyone satisfied.

Although it was difficult to get everyone together for an entire day, the content was so good that at the end many said that they wished they had more time. I guess next time we will have to make it an overnight event, ha-ha."

Project Team

Cotact Us

Satoshi Iritani

Creative Director / Facilitation evangelist
Satoshi Iritani

"I always feel tense when involved with a workshop with people other than those with whom I regularly work. I am grateful that as we do multiple tasks and presentations throughout the day, the participants become more outspoken and active. Especially in the prototyping in the second half of the event, the director and producer of Loftwork were able to show each of their strengths, and lead the discussion quite effectively.”