Since a typical Design Sprint should last 5 days, our fist challenge was to create a shorter version of the framework while keeping its effectiveness.
Building on the experience of past Design Sprints, we were able to create a hands-on workshop that allowed the participants to apply the methodology, learn how to facilitate a workshop, and provide feedback on the methodology itself at the end of the event.
Compressing a 5-day Design Sprint into a single day sounded impossible, but the participants were all members of the UX Book Club. This allowed us to have multidisciplinary teams all with deep knowledge of rapid prototyping and UX research.
The first step was identifying the Design Challenge. As Google suggests:
"A great design challenge is inspiring, short and specifies the target user groups and deliverables of the sprint."
However, we wanted to complicate things a little bit by providing a higher level design challenge:
Create a Crowdsourcing solution that allows its users to perform usability tests, design audits, User Experience optimizations and Heuristic evaluations.
This would allow the participants to design the portal from multiple perspectives: Designers, product managers, and start-uppers.
The idea of the design challenge came from a simple need: Test, Validate and enhance Prototypes created during Design Sprints.
The workshop methods and exercises used are briefly summarized in the following paragraphs. The gathered ideas were listed and evaluated by the groups in order to be able to systematically select the best ideas or elements of them for further development during the prototyping phase.
The morning was about breaking down the ideas into meaningful categories and defining strategies.
Each team created a user journey: a map that listed all the stages that a designer or a product manager goes through during his/her day in relation to our design challenge.
After that each team completed the customer journeys, each participant was asked to identify pain points or gaps based on the as-is set of Americana services. Each team member selected a specific touchpoint or gap, to improve with innovative ideas.
Participants then were asked to work individually and sketch 8 ideas in 5 minutes. This exercise is called Crazy 8s.
The aim is to identify solutions to frustration points selected from the customer journey.
Continuing the previous exercise, the team members now had to work individually and sketch 1 big idea and give it a catchy title.
Given the short amount of time that each team member had to create his own ideas, most of them may have needed a reality check.
The quickest way to do this is through a speed critique activity.
Each team member passed his own Big Idea to the colleague on his right. Right after this, each member wrote a critique to that Idea in 3 minutes. In the final step of this exercise, the idea and the critique was passed once again to the right. Each participant had then only 3 minutes to find a solution to that critique.
The final activity of the morning consisted of the teams voting the best solutions find during the brainstorming activities.
Teams dedicated the remaining time to refine the ideas, merging the most interesting and useful solution into a single big collaborative idea.
Most of the afternoon activities consisted in rapid prototyping. Today prototyping can be used throughout the design process: to generate ideas, validate concepts, or explore technologies.
The first-afternoon activity required the teams to create a storyboard.
The goal was to take the ideas generated so far and sketch an updated user journey showing how a user would move through this the design solution – where they click, what info they enter, what they think, etc.
Teams then were allowed to use laptops and smartphones to create interactive prototypes.
The only limit? Time: 90minutes!
Once that the prototypes were completed, teams were given the possibility to test the design solutions with real users.
Taking turns, each team demoed their solutions inviting the user to Think out Aloud. Think aloud is a simple usability test where users are required to think out loud. The activity is quite simple:
1. Give the user representative tasks to perform.
2. Shut up and let the users do the talking.
The outcomes were fascinating. From auto-generated designer communities based on affinity to quantitative design audits generated by crowd based Heuristic evaluations. All the ideas were unique and in a way could revolutionize the way we validate our prototypes and design solutions.
At the end of the event, we ran a small discussion between all participants.
What I could identify as the most important lesson to be learned is that the inclusion of a Business Model Canvas activity when creating a new service or product in mandatory. By not doing so the risk is that the final outcomes while being design wise possibly impeccable, might have a weak cost structure.
What we noticed is that, since we did not discuss about the business model, some tests were influenced by the users trying to validate the idea itself rather than the design solution (usability test).
Nonetheless, working closely with the design community in Milan we learned how to improve the way we plan and facilitate a Design Sprint, especially when managing a one-day long workshop.