User Experience
UX MK Design Sprints Evening

What are UX design sprints, why are they valuable and how can you conduct them?

UX MK @Missoula in Milton Keynes
Thank you to everyone who came to the UX MK event on UX design sprints last week. It was great to see you all there and we left feeling really inspired! The evening focused on Design Sprints. In case you couldn’t be there, or if you would like to recap what was discussed, we’ve outlined the discussions in this blog post.

The Evening

Chloe Sharp, Managing Director of Snap Out, gave a brief overview of what a Design Sprint and Design Sprint 2.0 are — which we have outlined above for you. There was then a brief discussion regarding when we could use a Sprint and the challenges of conducting one. We had a talk from Jeremy King from News Socks Media. New Socks Media run Design Sprints and were able to give us some useful pointers for those who wanted to do one. He gave some background on Jake Knapp, who wrote ‘Sprint’ and why he chose to use Design Sprints at Google Ventures. Jeremy also gave more detail on what a Design Sprint is using an example business case — he has written an article about it which you can read here.

What are Design Sprints?

A Design Sprint is a five-day process during which businesses have the opportunity to validate their ideas and overcome any key obstacles through design, prototyping and user testing. As Eran Dror accurately highlights, “Design Sprints have built-in exercises for talking to experts, identifying challenges, mapping out the problem, and testing your ideas with users. This fairly rigid format has a wonderful side-benefit of fostering curiosity and a discovery mindset even in the most confident or locked-in client.” (source)
Frans Ven Heerden (Pexels)

When to Use Design Sprint 2.0

  • Overcomes the problem of silos across organisations and helps with stakeholder buy-in. All key decision makers should be part of it.
  • Existing products that will undergo significant changes as there are key issues with engagement
  • Use for product development
  • Design new products
  • Develop new features
  • Define marketing strategies
  • Enter new markets

Getting Started on a Design Sprint: Preparation and Supplies

Before the Design Sprint, there is preparation that needs to be done:
  • Choose a big challenge
  • Get a Decider
  • Recruit a Sprint team
  • Schedule experts
  • Pick a Facilitator
  • Block 5 full days in the calendar
  • Book a room with 2 whiteboards
  • Interview key stakeholders
As well as essential supplies:
  • The Sprint book
  • Timer
  • Whiteboards + pens
  • IdeaPaint
  • Post-its + dot stickers
  • Plain paper + sharpies
  • Masking tape

Doing a Design Sprint 2.0

Day 1: Define the Challenge and Produce Solutions

  • Expert interviews — discussions with people who are familiar with the product on the client’s side.
  • How Might We’s — this helps to define pain points
  • Defining a long-term goal — the team are asked where they would like to see their work and product in 2 years’ time and what might hinder them from getting there.
  • Map — identifying a rough target area of the Sprint.
Produce Solutions
  • Lightening Demos — some quick desk research is done perhaps looking at some competition with fast demos done to provide an overview of what each person found
  • 4-Part Sketching — initially part of Day 2 on the original Design Sprint, this end-of-the-day activity involves looking sketching rough ideas of what will be produced and prototyped.
  1. Note-taking of the lightening demos to note what was interesting.
  2. Doodling ideas
  3. Crazy 8’s — 8 minutes for 8, 1 minute, sketches
  4. Concept — this could be a 3 slide powerpoint with images

Day 2: Vote on Solutions and Create a Storyboard

By introducing some of the original Day 2 elements into Day 1 on Design Sprint 2.0, a typical Day 2 would now take the following form: Vote on Solutions
  1. Heat Map Exercise — a process during which people vote on the sketches from the day before, choosing the most interesting.
  2. Solution presentation — sketches are clustered together and highlighted in solution presentations
  3. Straw poll vote — one vote on one solution
  4. Decider vote — pick one or two concepts that will be prototyped
  1. User-test flow— using 6 Post It notes (one for each step of the user’s ideal journey), these are then placed on the wall in varying orders, until it is chosen which flow works best.
2. Storyboarding — bridges the gap between rough sketches and a testable prototype

Day 3: Prototyping

With a view to creating an experience as accurate as possible for the users during the testing period, several versions of the product are designed and produced.

Day 4: User Testing

With finished versions of the prototypes now complete, these are then put to a group of selected participants to try them out:
  • It is usually recommended to ask 5 participants, plus 1 extra in case someone doesn’t show.
  • It’s suggested that after 3 tests you’ll start to see similar results, and that after 5 interviews with the users, you’ll start to see where things have gone well and where your assumptions were wrong.
  • After the initial few tests, there is then time to address and correct any issues that were found, before the rest of the tests continue.
Frans Ven Heerden (Pexels)

Discussion Points

We then opened discussion up and some really interesting points were made. Here are the main takeaways:
  • People can mix up what an Agile Sprint is and Design Sprint is when discussing ‘Sprint’, meaning that buy-in can be hard as stakeholders may not understand what it is.
  • It can be hard to get the right people involved, particularly decision makers as they are so busy.
  • There is the perception that there are too many opinions — although people are looking more for solutions than problems so in reality this isn’t the case.
  • The design sprints are great for large organisations where people and departments work in silos and for big challenges such as developing a new product.

Extra Resources

If you’d like to learn more about Design Sprints, check these resources out:

Next Meetups

Come along to our next meetups on Thursday 23 May and Thursday 8 August. Join our Meetup page for all updates!