Facing a design sprint for the first time
What is a design sprint? How do you make one? What can I expect from one? Not only will I explain the method, but my experience and impressions as a premature UX designer.
As my first project, I’ve been given the task to do my first design sprint focused on Seat and the future of mobility. A design sprint is a dynamic and quick method in which in just 5 days not only do you make a prototype, but you test it and evaluate if its production is viable or not. As a UX in the making that I am, when I first heard the concept of what a design sprint was, I got scared. I’ve never liked to work in a rush since I believe that a job well done needs of time, effort, and care, elements that usually fall back when in a rush. Although, in a way, I understood why it was done in such a rapid and spontaneous matter. Anyway, without hesitation, I’ll explain not only the process but what I felt and thought in the key points.
Day 1: Understanding
While I was daydreaming about every possible scenario I could face that day, they explained that the objective on our first day was to determine our goal or challenge, although in this case that goal was already given to us, as I previously mentioned. After that, we were divided into groups of 6/7 members to imitate the “ocean’s seven” working dynamic, with the difference that we wouldn’t be working with Brad Pitt, but with a people we barely met a week ago. And just like that, with a group of people you hardly know, you begin to devise the Sprint Questions, that to me are a group of hypothetical questions that can exist now and in the future about our goal, like “Could the vehicle detect when the user isn’t in conditions to drive? Or could the user access a renting service?” And, even though at the beginning silence reigned over us, little by little many interesting ideas began to flow. Once they were all written down, we began building our canvas where later we would place our user maps and our How might we questions. And here is where I had the most fun because not only do you get to draw your possible users on your user map, but you also get to imagine what their life is like and what problems they could face. Later we had our interviews with experts, which in this case we resorted to some youtube videos and Roberto, a proud Tesla user, in order to gain more information and clarity about electric cars in general. After the interview we wrote down our How might we…? questions on to post its and organized them by category on our canvas. Lastly, the moment of truth came to be: voting. Each member of the group had to votes to chose simultaneously our favorite How might we…? questions, although in our case the decisive votes were the supervotes. Those two decisive votes chose these two topics:
Day 2: Diverge
The second day has come, and I'm pumped after how fun and exciting the day before was. I never imagined that working with strangers could be so productive and entertaining because in the past all I ever experiences was fighting and chaos. But now it was time to diverge. The Ocean’s Seven fragmented into two groups in order to solve the chosen How might we, that in my case, it was real-time reports. Although I’ve never really liked to do desk research because I could never really find what I needed, in this case, I had no problem in finding valuable information since there were already many apps that gave real-time reports like Google Maps, RACC, Waze or Coyote. Then, the toughest part of the day showed up: drafting. Usually drafting isn't very hard for me, but at that point in time, I had so many ideas in mind, like a completely digital dashboard, and I had to prioritize. After some thought, I ended up choosing the more conservative functionality, but probably the most useful: geolocating your vehicle. Although there are already many apps that do this, I thought that they had a lot of room for improvement, so I began to think out how to do so. But, in the middle of my thought process, I was interrupted to do a crazy eight: a quick (and diabolic in my opinion) method to draft 8 different designs in 8 minutes! Nothing worthy came out of there because I never liked to do multiple simple drafts, but just a well thought out draft. So, after that struggle, I continued with my original draft and displayed it on the canvas for it to be voted the next day.
Day 3: Deciding
Today was a decisive day because it would determine the path the rest of the project would take. All the drafts the Ocean’s seven members made were going to be voted. With 15 votes each, we would vote the functionalities or the entire draft we like the most. The functionalities or draft that had the most votes would be the one the team would have to develop as a prototype. I voted a partner’s draft that designed an interactive car panel because it could include an infinite amour of functionalities, like geolocation. After our paths had been decided, it was time to have fun with our storyboard. In a maximum of 15 panels, we had to explain as a story how our prototype could be useful to users. Here not only I had fun displaying my artistic talents, but creating absurd but real scenarios.
Day 4: My prototype
Now it was time to work individually on the most creative part of the whole week: the creation of our prototype. In it, it was crucial for it to be easy to use, understandable, and smooth above the aesthetics because in just one afternoon it was extremely difficult to design a high-fi prototype. Between my partner's interactive panel and my original idea, I chose to prototype my idea, not only because we included it on our storyboard, but because I thought it was a more adequate idea to prototype as my first time using Figma or designing at all.
My prototype is devised as an exclusive service for Seat customers, with a user profile connected to the vehicle. On the main dashboard, besides other functionalities, not only can you see the companies logo, but also the user’s name and photograph and the car’s name (completely personalizable). Once inside the location function, the user would visualize an interface similar to that of google maps, but with the added feature that they can also visualize what the front and back cameras of the vehicle are visualizing to view the surroundings of the car. The other functionality my prototype has as a plus is the possibility to notify the police in case the vehicle has been vandalized or stolen. When this is activated, the police would be notified and given the real-time location of the car and a recording of the interior of the car for future legal procedures. In the meanwhile, the user can also see the interior of the car and the route the car is taking until the police arrests the thief. Even though when I was making my prototype I had no problem in using and understanding Figma, I was worried about my prototype coming out too simplistic, monotonous and boring. But, I tried not to overthink things and waited for the feedback I would receive on the final day of the week.
Day 5: Testing
The moment of truth had come. Now I had to try my prototype with regular people to find out if it was actually viable or not. I began with some opening questions like: How old are you? Do you usually drive? For how long have you been driving? or, my favorite: Have you ever forgotten where you parked your car? as to only one of the testers answered: Never, but I know many who have. Later I began to explain what my challenge was and what was the objective of my prototype. And, even though most recognized right away google maps’ interface, a 21-year-old boy confessed that he wasn't familiar at all with it because he wasn't very technological and had never used google maps, but could somewhat understand it. Later the peculiarity of my prototype showed up: the police function, one that received many positive comments and a “Wow, just like in the movies!” comment here and there. Once they completely viewed all my prototype, I asked them a couple of questions in order to display in a graph the total score of my prototype. And, despite the aesthetics of the prototype being the least valued of its qualities, qualified as too serious and stiff, what I thought to be a defect became its virtue: Its simplicity and clarity. They described it as an intuitive and easy to use, with just the right amount of information to understand everything that was going on, even for someone who wasn't well versed with technology.
Several months later…
Months later, and with more experience on my back, I decided to redesign my prototype, mostly the main dashboard. I chose a minimal aesthetic, but still with heavy use of white and black as my main colors, and red as an accent color.
This method of working is very peculiar. It's not ideal for a high-fi and more polished job, but it is very useful to test in a quick and cheap way if a product would be viable or not. I’m very happy and satisfied with the outcome of my prototype and this method has taught me that you can also end up with a high-quality product with less time. So, we could say that brevity is the soul of wit, right?
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