Design slam


Photo of teams working together around round tables - the IA slam at the information architecture summit in 2007

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.

How to


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 source: It is always slightly crazy and a lot of fun.

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