Design Games — Design Slam

Design Games — Design Slam


“IA Slam” is the seventh in our series of Design Games.

The game involves solving a design problem under time pressure, in teams. Design slams are good for identifying potential design solutions, but are also good for a team to learn about how to work together.

Design Slam is the seventh in our series of Design Games.

Is this your first time visiting our design games series? A design game is basically a fun activity played by a small team and used to provide input to a design problem. They may involve users of a product, a project team, stakeholders, or even management.

For a more detailed description of what a design game is, check out our first design game post or refer to our other design games.

Description of Design Slam

Design Game - IA Slam

In a design slam a team works together to create a solution to a design problem. A design slam is usually conducted under some time pressure, and there may be a prize for the ‘winner’.

Design slams are good for identifying potential design solutions, but are also good for a team to learn about how to work together.


The design problem may be a real one, a completely artificial situation or a situation close to a real-life one.

Participants should be encouraged to generate a couple of ideas and choose one to submit as their solution. The idea should be fairly high-level, not a screen-by-screen interface.

Think about how you would like the team to present their work. For the IA Slam (an annual event at the IA Summit), participants must create ‘one eye-popping page’ that represents their idea.

If you are using this game to help a team learn how to work together, you may wish to assign roles, identify roles that the team needs to assign, or just allow the team to figure each other out.

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You may like to prepare just a brief summary of the problem, or a full back story with props & artefacts.

Provide paper, markers, sticky notes and other stationery.


Explain the design problem plus any constraints or issues to participants. Explain that they are to come up with a creative solution to the problem

Explain any time constraints and exactly what they are to produce as an outcome. Encourage them to initially generate a number of ideas before selecting one to document and explain.


Little to no analysis is needed for this game. Its purpose is to help teams look at a problem in a different way and break out of existing patterns not to create a real design solution.


The Information Architecture Summit has a design slam every year (appropriately called the IA Slam). The photo above is from the 2007 IA Slam (photo credit: lopolis). It is always slightly crazy and a lot of fun.

Written by
Donna Spencer
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