How to run design sprints on remote?

How to run design sprints on remote?

The design sprint process is one of the most prominent strategies to solve difficult business problems. Introduced by Jake Knapp (Former GV design partner), the technique was first used at Google in 2010, and has been improved by experts over the years. Many businesses and startups rely on it to innovate ideas to create products that meet users’ needs. 

What is the Design Sprint process? 

A design sprint process is a design methodology, which runs over a period of fixed days where people with diverse mindsets discuss how to create a simplified UI/UX experience. As the time span is short, everyone keeps a constructive mindset. In his book Sprint (2016), Jake Knapp explained the process as “a five-day schedule where a board of team discusses how to resolve one major challenge of product/service by creating and testing prototypes.” During the process, the entire team brainstorms a more suitable idea to reach the end goal (a simple yet engaging product/service). 

The answers a team seeks from a sprint are: 

⦁ How to create a prototype faster? 

⦁ What are the inputs of your expert team to improve the product/process? 

⦁ Is it worth investing money in this idea? 

⦁ Do users need the product? 

Before starting a remote sprint session, ensure the following: 

Availability of team members: schedule the meetings and share a five-day agenda with the team beforehand. 

A quiet environment: Ask the participants to keep their doors shut during the sprint and to work from a quiet place. Also, they must keep their videos on so that everyone can see what the other person is doing. 

No technical glitches: Make sure that the technology part is on-point before the sprint starts.  Internet connection, microphone, video camera, etc. should be checked before starting the session. 

As this will be an exhaustive process, where every participant is expected on a video call, give your team ample breaks to recharge and refresh. 

A remote process requires some more tools that we will discuss below in the 5-day guide: 

Day 0 – Get all your tools sorted/Prepping 

⦁ What is the big challenge you want to take up? Keep a clear eye on the goal. (Keep in mind that the challenge must be worth investing five days of discussion.) 

⦁ Select the team of experts who will be a part of the sprint process. 

⦁ Block your calendar for five days to conduct the sprint  

⦁ For meeting in person, you must arrange a room to conduct the meetings. Be ready with whitespaces/whiteboards to brainstorm and design and office supplies such as markers, papers, etc. ready. 

You need to prepare a little more when you are on the remote. Here are a few ways to do that: 

⦁ A remote team must agree on using a video conferencing platform that most people are comfortable with. Some popular options are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. You may also want to invest in a good microphone and webcam to have bright and sharp images during the discussion. 

⦁ Whiteboards are still necessary even if you are on remote. However, there can be interruptions when your teammates ask to click pictures of the content. Instead, you can work on virtual whiteboards and store it on the cloud forever; no erasing or redraws required. For whiteboards, you can use Miro, InVision, Limnu, MURAL, Stormboard, etc. 

Day 1 – Understanding the problem – deciding one key point to resolve in the project 

Introduce the agenda of the meeting. 

Conduct a knowledge-sharing session where you and the team share your views about the challenge. 

Set the end goal assuming a scene where your product/service runs perfectly, and knowing what makes it possible. This way your entire team is aligned to achieve the same goal. 

Map the problem, for example if you want to improve user experience on an app, map your user’s journey and select a specific point that you want to focus on and improve during the sprint. 

List out all the questions, risks, and factors that might prevent you from reaching your end goal. Pick the questions that you want to address in this sprint. 

Give your team time to absorb this information so that they can come up with ideas. Taking a break will give members some time to brainstorm. 

⦁ Once you are back, ask your experts to suggest ideas on how to overcome the challenges related to the questions and risks that you have listed. Each of these experts must have a specific role in improving the map; that way they can provide suggestions with relevant context. This will help you set achievable targets in smaller chunks to reach the end goal. 

⦁ Your team can use HMW technique (How might we?). For instance, how might we fail to address the challenges with specific steps to improve the customer journey. 

⦁ Put all that information in one place (preferably on cloud) and share it with your team so that they have the takeaways from the meeting to start with their designs on solving the big spot. 

With this, you are all set for Day 2; however, the team must stay connected offline for project coordination. Select a project management tool (Asana, Notion, Confluence, HubSpot, Zoho, basecamp) for team discussions and updates. You can use this tool throughout the sprint process. 

Day 2 – Finding solutions – building blocks for the prototype 

Once you have understood the problem, take inspiration from other companies who faced a similar challenge in the past and found solutions. By looking at these demos, your team can come up with something of their own that uniquely fits your requirements. 

Remember that work for each day needs a separate space for activities. You have unlimited space on the cloud, which can be used to keep track of your day-to-day progress. You can use the space to store examples, give instructions, etc. 

To come up with great ideas everyone must 

⦁ Take notes from the existing ideas in the demos. 

⦁ Jot down some rough ideas or create abstracts at home using office supplies. (These can be rectangular frames combined with explanatory words or a process diagram written step-by-step depending on your problem.) 

⦁ Pick the best ideas and sketch concrete diagrams on a whiteboard. Give each a title.  

⦁ Consider sketches from every participant. Give each participant a separate space on the whiteboard(s) for their activity and then move the work to the shared space for voting. (Keep the names anonymous for sketches and polling.

Simultaneously, you can start finding customers for a survey test as this too will take time. You must have a few people ready when it’s time to test the new solution. Have a clear idea about whom you want to recruit: 

⦁ people who haven’t used your product; 

⦁ People who signed-up but don’t use your product often; 

⦁ Those who are using the product and would like to see a change; 

Create a screener questionnaire on Google Forms or any other convenient method and share it with users. Facebook Ads can also draw responses from target groups. Give your questionnaire an appealing title or offer attractive compensation for participants selected for the user test. You can conduct interviews via Zoom, Google Meet, Teams, etc. 

Day 3 – Deciding on the strongest sketches and storyboarding 

⦁ Let every participant observe the sketches to capture the best ideas or add their thoughts to improve a sketch. 

⦁ Now, that everyone can see the highlights and critiques of each design, go for polling. 

⦁ After the polling, let the most experienced person select the design that the team should base the prototype on. 

⦁ Once the prototype design is ready, create a storyboard. Participants can suggest steps on the whiteboard anonymously and finalise the feasible steps together to create a prototype. 

Day 4 – Assigning tasks to create a prototype 

Select the right tools to create a prototype. Figma is the most used platform for designing prototypes as it is easily understandable even by non-designers. 

Assign tasks to the participants: a writer to take note of all the components, a designer to design the different prototype layouts, an expert to combine all the layouts together. Once everything is put together, perform a trial run with all participants present. This will help you find any inconsistencies against the storyboard and fix them right away. 

Day 5 – Day to conduct customer interviews 

Now it’s time to test the prototype with the customers (the target group you have been building from day two when you had some clarity on the new idea). Make sure that you ask them to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before you share your prototype. 

To make the most out of this test, ensure that your user needs to make minimum efforts to understand how to use your product. Sending instructions will be a great idea or you can explain the objective of this e-meet on a video/audio call. 

As the entire interview will be conducted via electronic devices, expect technical glitches, failures, and thus keep backups ready. 

Ensure that your users are in a comfortable environment, and you provide every possible convenience to them while they try out your product. 

It is going to be an e-meet and your team will want to take notes during the interview.  But for a new person, it can be distracting to have too many people on a call. Therefore, keep a minimum number of people in the interview and get consent from the user to record the session for future references. 

Score your prototype based on important questions such as: 

⦁ Was the user able to understand the purpose of the product? 

⦁ Was the product easy to use for them? 

⦁ Would they be interested in using a product like this? 

⦁ Are there any tweaks they expected; if yes, what are they? 

Now that you have tested your prototype with customers and have their feedback, thank them along with the promised compensation. 

Kudos! You have successfully gathered all the necessary data for your future product. Get along with an app development team to make it a reality.

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