What is a Design Sprint and how we do it at Maze? (free Empathy Map & User Journey included)
Scroll to the bottom in order to get your free empathy & user journey map template
Update: We spoke more prototyping here.
A Design Sprint is a step by step process for solving big problems, testing big ideas and building better products faster through different stages.
Here at Maze we create design sprints for specific projects where we feel it could give us an added value & help us understand the project’s users & audience better. It is part of our Design & Development services.
With time, we learned to even better optimize Jake’s design sprint to better fit the Lebanese market, its clients & products. So, we’ve come up with our own version, highly influenced by Jake, but a bit lighter & faster.
Before we start
Know your team and their roles
The sprint design is run by a facilitator (or a SprintMaster) whose objective is to identify problems that needs to be solved and manages time, conversations and the overall process.
The Facilitator or SprintMaster should also know his member’s different skills & roles in order to know how to benefit from them.
Ideally one team can have:
- One or Two designer
- A Project Manager responsible of the project in the agency
- The client (can be the Founder, CEO or the Project Manager)
- One Marketing expert
- One Sales expert
- One Financial expert
- One Tech expert
One of the team members is chosen to be the decider.
- Communicates the project vision to the team
- Chooses the solution to be tested
- Makes decisions for the team whenever they get stuck
- and most importantly have the final word on any decision conflict inside the team.
At Maze, our sprints are done using 2 teams, usually with the client present in both teams (the client can be the decider also).
The presence of a financial & sales expert usually depends on the project at hand and rarely enforced.
Know your 3 basic rules:
For a successful design sprint, we have 3 basic rules to follow:
- Honor the Sprint Master directions
- Honor the Decider decisions
- Everything is time boxed
The above rules can be sometimes hard to implement, especially if the client is present and/or he is not the decider. However, without them a design sprint will fail & ultimately the project will fail also.
The Sprint Master plays a big role insuring that rules are respected without offending the client & over stepping his boundaries.
Prepare your tools
These tools will help you motivate your team members and add a little of fun to the whole process
- Post-its of different colors
- Small red dots (8mms)
- Large green dots (18mms)
- Markers (thicker markers will let the team write less and main points)
- White A4 & A5 papers
- Time Timer (can be your phone)
- Magic Paper (or Whiteboard)
- Optional: Camera to document the whole work
- Optional: Snacks & drinks
You can check a complete & developed list of tools at Google’s design sprint site.
At Maze, we conduct our design sprints in our main meeting room.
Its a medium sized glass room with natural light where we do take advantage of every little mm to brainstorm & sketch.
Phase 1: Understand
Pre-requisite: Business Goals
Outcome: Figure out our users pain & turn them into opportunities
At this point, the project’s business goals should be known to all team members.
Phase 1 should start by identifying and understanding our users needs.
One way of doing this is by using empathy maps.
Now that we have our users needs, we should support it by a user journey and extract from it an external (customer side) and/or internal (business side) goal.
The above is a real life, developed user journey – But how does an empty user journey look like?
Personas: Profile pic & small description to imagine and recognize each user type
Intro: Small scenario about the journey map
Timeline: Keep it simple – No more than 10 steps. Here you should list the stages your users pass by before making your desired action.
Touchpoints: Actions your users did (showing the touchpoint and the devices used in each action of each stage)
Emotions: Users emotions during each stages supplemented with quotes or videos from research
Threats that the user faced
Opportunities that can be created from each thread & that can help improving the user’s experience
Note: Pain = Area of opportunities
At the end of Phase 1 & by using the data we collected from our empathy & user journey map we should be able to:
- Turn problems & pains into opportunities
- Ignite innovative solutions
Phase 2: Ideate
Pre-requisite: Users pain turned into opportunities
Outcome: Solutions represented in Prototypes
Phase 2 is all about scratching our heads together and sketching many ideas that can represent a solution for whatever problem we are facing.
“The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas”Linus Pauling
Ever had to many ideas but actually needed only one? The Crazy 8s method will allow you to sketch your best 8 ideas – The trick is to sketch them fast without concentrating on details much and then talking about them with the team.
In order to have a successful Crazy 8s, team members should have taken notes in Phase 1 & identified their opportunities & user pains correctly.
This is where things gets interesting. Members now should take the best idea from their Crazy 8s and prototype it.
At this stage, we can allow more time for prototyping. The more time we give, the higher fidelity our variation should be.
Phase 3: Decide
Pre-requisite: One developed prototype for each member
Outcome: One basic high fidelity design to test
At Maze, this is usually our last Phase. This is where we chose one prototype from Phase 2 and assign it to a designer in order to create a high fidelity design from it.
Do’s & Don’ts
- List out assumptions to be tested with the user
- Create context for your customer’s first interaction with the product or service
- Cover all the steps of your story
- Leave no room for interpretation, use notes to describe the screens & messages
- Present the whole story to the team out loud
- Create new solutions on the spot
- Engage in endless discussions (respect your time limit & move on)
- Create steps that are irrelevant for what you want to test
- Forget about what you are trying to learn with your prototype
- Lose time discussing details that can be covered in the prototyping day
For us, every project is different and some changes can occur in the sprint for better outcomes. The fastest sprint we did took one was 2 days – including the high fidelity prototype. However, a normal average for the 3 phases above would be around 3 days.
If you are a UX designer looking to make your own sprint for a project of yours and need help, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will gladly help out if we can.