This time around we tried out a 1-week Design sprint to completely focus on a complex problem that required thinking something completely new and innovative. We wanted to build a new interface with a different workflow to make campaign management easier for certain specific use cases. Our team involved 3 Product Managers, 2 UX Designers and a user. The goal of this 5 day sprint was to completely focus on solving this problem by doing initial research, studying competitive products, brainstorming different solutions, building prototypes and validating those with our users. The end goal was a working prototype which has a high degree of acceptance from our users.
Armed with sticky notes, blank sheets, drawing pens, whiteboard markers and projectors we locked ourselves in a conference room for 5 days. Pizzas, colas and coffee made sure our excitement levels were on max level as we went about building the prototypes, one screen at a time.
First day was about discussing the problem and making sure we all relate to the user’s pain points. Our VP, Product Management walked us through the business opportunity and its importance for our clients. The Lead Product Manager walked us through prior research that he had done around the problem and competitive products. We also got input from our users who discussed the pain points they face. We wrapped up the first day on a perfect note, with everyone agreeing to the overall problem, how other players are addressing it and the current gaps in the market.
Listing down the basic scenarios
The next day was about listing down the main scenarios and defining a minimal viable product that can be developed fast and can provide significant value to our users. It was almost like making our way through the chaos as we filtered down through all the information shared the previous day and started defining the important scenarios.
The 15 minutes Prototype
Next was a pretty interesting exercise. We picked up one of the scenarios and each one of us was to make quick paper prototypes with at least four different ideas in not more than 15 minutes. These quick sketches helped bring different ideas on paper.
All the prototypes for each scenario were put up on the walls which facilitated quick discussion amongst the group as well as get quick feedback from the users. These discussions brought up different perspectives which helped us develop a better understanding of the different parts and put down a holistic view to each scenario.
By this time, there was so much energy and enthusiasm inside the room, with each one completely engrossed in the problem, trying to solve it in their own way and coming up with innovative ideas. So finally there we were, getting much better clarity on each scenario, combining different ideas and finalizing on each flow.
Storyboarding & low fi prototypes
The next step was coming up with storyboards and detailing out these ideas. We had our UX team working on storyboards along with the Product Managers discussing and giving their inputs on each flow. That day was pretty much packed with storyboarding as we detailed out each scenario.
Day 4 was the time to open up our laptops, turn on the music and meet the 1-day crazy deadline of coming up with the low fidelity prototypes. The previous day’s exercise of making storyboards certainly helped and we knew exactly what we needed to prototype. The goal of these prototypes was to get user feedback on how our design approach helps them solve the problem. We even wanted to evaluate if the UX is intuitive and identify potential confusion-areas. The plan was to conduct a user study basis the prototypes we build on the 4th day.
And phew! Here comes the final day. More than anything else, there was much anticipation about showing our working ideas to the users. We put together a group of 5-6 users, which included account managers, campaign optimizers and data analysts to whom we gave a detailed walkthrough for their feedback. It was very fulfilling to see users respond to and relate with our design approach. The group also talked about process flows and edge cases that we didn’t consider, giving us concrete action items to work on. These 5 days gave us a lot interesting insights and also challenged us to push our creative muscles to deliver something useful within the deadlines. During the sprint we did work in our own space to solve specific problems and then also worked as a group to bounce off ideas with each other. It’s amazing to see how everyone thinks outside their respective roles and focuses on the larger problem the group is trying to solve. Helen Keller has said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can so much”, which is exactly what we experienced during this week’s long design sprint.