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Graffiti wall activity

Cate Ferman avatar

Author: Cate Ferman | Last edit: May 01, 2024

What is a graffiti wall?

A graffiti wall is a temporary public canvas that allows anyone who passes through the space in which it’s hanging to write or draw their response to the question or prompt written on it. In its most classic form, this equates to a big blank piece of paper stuck to a wall or something wall-like with a question or prompt written on it. It’s that simple!

Graffiti walls are considered a fairly informal qualitative user research method. The results are often very helpful in supporting other user research efforts or revealing new ways of thinking about certain feedback, but by itself this method is not considered to be especially rigorous and should not be the sole source of data for decision making.

Here’s what this activity looks like in action:


Photo credit:


Photo credit:

When to use a graffiti wall activity?

Use this method when your project checks all of these boxes:


1. You are at any phase of design, research, or development where you need (or want) additional user feedback

     All of these phases are great times to try this method:

  • Design: Discovery, Design ideation, Testing
  • Research: Exploratory, Foundational, Generative,  Evaluative, Applied


2. You want to publicly engage users, customers, or partners in a novel way


3. You don’t need a really specific type of participant to answer your question (aka. there is a very large group of people who would be qualified to answer your question)


  • I want feedback from any kind of IT professional who has used a search engine before
  • I want to hear from people who have used documentation
  • I want to hear from people who have experience logging into a website/building an app/pushing code, etc. 
  • I want to hear from OpenShift users)


4. You have access to a physical space that you know or believe with some certainty those required participants will commonly pass through during the time period you want to gather feedback


  • We will have a booth/table/space at X conference (like Summit)
  • I’m hosting a large in-person all-day meeting/training/demo at X company
  • The local developer Meetup group will allow me to put something up during their monthly meeting
  • I got permission to put something up during a live Red Hat Accelerators session


5. You don’t need a full formal user research study


General pros and cons of using this method

Here are the general pros and cons of setting up a graffiti wall. Use these points to help determine if this is the right activity for you. See the graffiti wall approaches listed below for pros and cons specific to the different wall form factor approaches. 



  • Cheap, fast, and easy to put together and run
  • Takes relatively few people to execute and can be completely unmoderated for the majority of time it is running
  • Potentially very low-fi depending on how you decide to execute it. The most basic version of a graffiti wall only uses a few common office supplies most of which are easy to find
  • Generally highly accessible to a wide variety of people (as long as it’s not hung up too high ;P)
  • Can be a novel and engaging activity for “frequent flier” user experience research participants vs. more commonly used methods like surveys
  • Can reach users in spaces that otherwise might be difficult or inappropriate to recruit in or get feedback in (ex. Bathrooms, libraries, limited access offices, etc.) 
  • Anonymity allows participants to respond more freely without fear of judgment
  • It’s potentially available 24/7 which may open up comments from audiences you don’t typically reach
  • It can be a very short, low-effort activity for participants who don’t have a lot of time to spend or people can spend all day on their response - there is no imposed time minimum or limit for participation
  • People can write or draw their responses which can result in some very cool and unexpected feedback
  • It’s generally a fun activity to participate in and can generate quite a bit of activity in the immediate area where its located



  • You can’t control exactly who answers the prompt, because it’s publicly accessible to anyone who physically enters the space where its hanging
  • You might not be able to hang it up where you want to for optimum results
  • You have no way of following up on specific responses to get more information
  • You have no way of classifying comments via “user buckets” because you don’t know what their role title, job responsibilities, location, company type, etc are unless they share that in their written comments
  • Because there is no formal recruiting to verify participant qualifications and ensure high study quality standard (basically all of the points above), this is a less qualitatively rigorous research method than other research methods and should not be solely relied upon for decision making
  • It may appear messy or unprofessional to some people
  • Feedback is limited by physical access - only people who move through the space it’s hanging in will have an opportunity to respond
  • It may attract unwanted loitering and/or noise that bothers other people sharing the space
  • There’s going to be some percentage of inappropriate drawings and comments - humans are gonna human
  • It is a physical artifact that can be damaged or destroyed. It might fall off the wall, be taken down by maintenance personnel, be vandalized, or just disappear at any given time (especially true if it is hanging overnight) and you will lose any undocumented data that happened between the last time it was documented and when you discover it’s gone
  • This is not a full blown primary research method but instead more of a support research method. Results may (and maybe should not) be taken too seriously on their own

What to ask on a graffiti wall?

You can ask just about anything on a graffiti wall. Here are some examples:


Broad or general questions


  • Why do you use a GUI?  / Why do you hate using a GUI?
  • When you think about X activity, what product/company/service do you think of first?
  • What are the top 3 things you’d like to see improved in X product?
  • How do you define X thing?
  • What do you associate with X product?
  • How might we improve X experience?


Specific feature characteristics in widely used software


  • When do you access help in X product?
  • What information do you need to have before you can use X product?
  • How would you like to be notified about X thing?
  • Why do you hate X thing in X software? / Why do you love X thing in X software?
  • What is the functionality you can’t live without in X product?
  • When I’m using X product/doing X task, I hate it when…?


Design and messaging feedback (use your best judgment here- nothing that’s under NDA, right?)


  • Print a part of the design or feature you have questions on and tape it to the wall with your question
  • Print the full interface and ask people to put a dot next to what’s useful/confusing/etc. and explain why
  • Print a headline, logo options, or naming convention you’d like feedback on


You can also riff on this idea and expand it to include participant interaction with charts, voting, checklists, mapping, etc. The options are almost endless.

How to do it

Here's the step-by-step walkthrough of how to plan and execute this activity.Decide what you want to learn and write your wall question or prompt. Don't forget to get team and/or stakeholder feedback as you go through this process!

  1. Decide who you want to answer your question or prompt.
  2. Determine where you want to physically locate the wall. 
  3. Identify any barriers or restrictions to that location and get approval to install the wall if necessary.
  4. Decide how long you want to leave the wall open to the public.
  5. Choose a “wall approach” from the list below (or make your own).
  6. Gather the necessary materials and make your wall.
  7. Hang or install the wall in your location of choice for your determined time period.
  8. Document the wall after installation and then at the beginning and ending of each day of the study.
  9. Take down the wall on the last day of the study and take pictures of everything for documentation - close ups and full page images.
  10. Digitize all comments and conduct any synthesis and/or analysis needed to understand people’s comments.
  11. Share your project and results with lots of pictures or hang the actual wall in a public space in the office for people to see it. People love looking at all the user comments and drawings, different colored pens, and handwriting styles on a completed graffiti wall. 😊

Different graffiti wall approaches and required materials

There are many ways to execute a graffiti wall. Listed below are several ways to approach doing this activity along with the materials required, pros, and cons of each approach. There is no right or wrong selection here. It's best to look at your physical space constraints and any other requirements and choose the approach that will work best for your specific situation. Once you have picked a general approach and you know what materials are needed, go back and follow the step by step activity directions and alter them as needed to accommodate your approach and materials.


Wall approach 1 - Classic

This is as low cost/low fi as you can get. Paper, tape, and something to write with.


  • A large blank piece of butcher paper
  • Markers and/or highlighters to write the prompt/decorate the page (as needed)



  • Fast to make
  • Fast to add comments to
  • Cheap to execute
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to get the necessary supplies
  • Highly accessible to anyone of any age with any skill level
  • Multiple people can contribute at the same time



  • Might be seen as trash and removed/thrown away
  • Might not look professional enough for RH purposes
  • Might be hard to read a hand-written prompt depending on the person’s handwriting
  • Requires a writing instrument

Wall approach 2 - DIY zine style

This approach adds printed elements that are cut and paste onto the paper. 


  • A large piece of butcher paper
  • Glue or tape
  • Your prompt printed out on regular printer or copier paper - cut out and taped or glued to the paper
  • Markers and/or highlighters to write with/decorate the page (as needed)
  • Painter’s tape
  • (Optional) Ballpoint pens or sharpies on string to tape near the wall



  • Fast to make
  • Fast to add comments to
  • Cheap to execute
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to get the necessary supplies
  • Potentially slightly more legible than the classic version
  • Highly accessible to anyone of any age with any skill level
  • Multiple people can contribute at the same time



  • Might be seen as trash and removed/thrown away
  • Might not look professional enough for RH purposes
  • Requires a writing instrument

Wall approach 3 - Giant Post-its

This approach is great if you don't have a lot of wall space, but have table space. Takes advantage of already manufactured materials.


  • Post-it Easel Pad
  • Either an easel, a large flat surface, or a way to hang it up
  • Your prompt written or typed and glued somewhere on the easel pad (on the top handle part is a good idea so it doesn’t take up much of the page)
  • Markers and/or highlighters to write with/decorate the page (as needed)
  • Painter’s tape
  • (Optional) Ballpoint pens or sharpies on string to tape near the wall



  • Fast to make
  • Fast to add comments to
  • Cheap to execute
  • Really easy to set up as long as you have somewhere for the easel to sit or hang
  • Easy to get the necessary supplies
  • Highly accessible to anyone of any age with any skill level



  • Individual Post-it easel pages don’t stick to walls very well
  • The whole easel can be difficult to stabilize for writing or hang because of its size and weight
  • Might fall off the wall, be seen as trash and removed/thrown away
  • Pages are much smaller than other options, so you might have to occasionally move the prompt/activity to a new page
  • Most likely only one person can contribute at a time
  • Requires a writing instrument

Wall approach 4 - Large scale printed poster

This approach does require someone to be able to "design" the poster and get it printed, but is awesome for when branding is important.


  • Design file for graffiti wall using graphics software of your choice and the appropriate template for your printer of choice
  • Finished poster should be around 20-30in or 30-40in in size, CMYK output
  • Can include logos, branding, QR codes, and anything else you think will add to the activity
  • Painter’s tape
  • (Optional) Ballpoint pens or sharpies on string to tape near the wall



  • Branded and professional looking
  • Can be pretty fast to make
  • Fast to add comments to
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Easy to set up
  • Highly accessible to anyone of any age with any skill level
  • Multiple people most likely can contribute at the same time



  • More expensive than other options
  • Requires someone with graphics skills to execute printer file(s)
  • Time to complete the activity may be slowed down by printer turnaround times and/or delivery times
  • People may feel hesitant to write on something they deem “officially branded and printed” unless it’s really clear they are supposed to write on it
  • Requires a writing instrument

Wall approach 5 - High tech device-reliant

This approach is great if you have access to high-tech devices and/or don't have wall space or capability to hang things.


  • Large scale digital touch screen/blackboard
  • Miro, Figma jam board, or other digital software that will allow participants to write and draw in a digital “poster wall” space



  • Might be more eye catching to tech-oriented people
  • Infinite space for people to write comments or draw
  • Full color and graphics abilities (aka. Stickers, emoticons, star- or dot- voting, etc.)
  • Opportunity to encourage public interaction with other people’s feedback and comments (aka. add to them, vote on them, sticker them, etc.)
  • Most likely will have some sort of versioning history saving the content as it grows and changes or can be digitally backed up
  • If large enough, multiple people most likely can contribute at the same time
  • Most likely will not require any additional tools (like writing instruments) from the participants
  • Can combine with other digital tools like surveys, etc. to gather additional data



  • May require monitoring to be sure equipment is not damaged and data is not accidentally or intentionally changed or deleted
  • Not as fully accessible to anyone and everyone
  • May be more intimidating to less tech-saavy people
  • May take participants a long time to add a comment because of the required learning curve, software, etc.
  • If board is smaller, may not be big enough to accommodate multiple people contributing at the same time 
  • May not be immediately obvious it’s meant to be interacted with without additional supporting signage

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