It is often said that we buy with our eyes, so especially in the case of the B2C products, their design and usability are considered as a very important factors for either success or failure. However, in the B2B sector, good design also significantly increases the chances of gaining new customers, investors, and cannot be neglected. Besides, the design is not only the GUI, and specific colors or graphics, but also the users’ experience – which has undisputed and fundamental value for both B2B and B2C products and that’s what we focus on in this article. Our UX/UI Lab has already designed many excellent, easy to use solutions and over the years developed methods that allow us to carry out the design process effectively. Of course, the process is always tailored to a specific situation and the requirements, but the method we share with you in this text, based on the proven Design Sprint methodology, in most cases allow to develop the UX design that corresponds with the vision of our Client and the needs of end customers swiftly, at the same time ensuring that the user experience will be at the highest level.
Design Sprint basics
Before we move to our scheme let’s start with a brief recap of the basics. The Design Sprint is a method invented by GV, it’s “a process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers”. As its creators’ state, it’s supposed to be a shortcut through an endless-debate cycle that allows compressing months of work into a single week. The original design sprint is a five-phase process that lasts from Monday to Friday. In our case, we noticed that the time needed for a particular sprint differs – based on the for-example complexity of the problem we have to solve or the more mundane causes like time difference dividing us from the Client. That’s why we always adjust the sprint timeline to the specific situation, ensuring that its result would be satisfactory. However rather than jump to a conclusion, we’re going to describe all the steps.
First things first, it’s impossible to host workshops without participants so let’s start with outlining who should be involved. To ensure the result of the process would meet Clients’ needs it’s crucial that several people with different backgrounds (ranging from idealistic visioners to down-to-earth technical experts) and scope of work would participate in the sprint. That would be the so-called Leader, the decision-maker responsible for choosing the direction of the product development, and 3-4 other representatives with different scopes of responsibility (e.q. Product Owners, Analysts, Marketers, Technical Leaders, or Business Leaders). What they have to have in common is either experience with the project (if it’s already up and running, and we are going to expand or redesign it) or knowledge about the plans (in case of a new project that’s about to kickstart). From the provider side, it’s necessary to include Facilitator (in our case specialists are certificated by Design Sprint Academy with vast experience), UX Designer, and Technical & Business Leader who will be responsible for the project. This number of participants allows combining all the necessary competencies and points of view while keeping the team small enough to go through all the tasks effectively without problems that arise in big workgroups.
The first day of the workshops is to determine and obtain a full understanding of the challenge we’re facing. Since the group assembles to come up with solutions rather than a never-ending list of questions, we usually start with the benchmarking process, reviewing solutions from the competition and inspirational design from other industries. Once the team has an overview of the subject at hand and the market, they start generating ideas that are meant to solve the defined problem. At this stage, all participants create concepts in a form of basic shapes so everyone would be able to understand others’ ideas in a blink of an eye.
- End-goal identified,
- Problems converted to opportunities
- List of inspiring products and solutions to be used in the designing phase
- 7-8 individual sketches showing solutions worked out by each team member.
On the second day, workshops begin with presentations of the ideas worked out the day before (these are done by the facilitator to ensure ideas anonymity). During the presentation, participants verify not only the ideas in general but also if the proposals are easily understandable or require further explanation. Once all presentations are done, the team starts brainstorming to sort up the best ideas, upon which the final prototype would be built. Just for the record – that might be based on a particular idea from one of the participants or a mix of elements from different proposals
The second part of the day is for participants to work over the previously selected ideas and develop a precise prototype scenario that would allow creating a functional mock-up. They draw a full, well-defined storyboard for the following design process addressing all key elements.
- One consistent idea being the subject of further development.
- Key elements for the initial solution addressed and a basic roadmap created.
- Draft of the prototype plan prepared including 10-15 screens depend on device (desktop, tablet, smartphone)
Having already created the storyboard and agreed on how the solution should look like comes the time for the UX specialist to start crafting the interactive prototype. This take approximately 1-2 days and is done solely by UX specialists. During this stage, experts focus on utility and quality rather than on the look, so the UX prototype does not include final colors, shades, paddings, and so on – its sole purpose is to check new functionalities and we focus on the look during GUI design at the later stage.
- Clickable prototype
Once our specialists create the functional prototype comes the time for the end-users to test it. The goal is to verify if the assumptions established during the course of the sprint meet the expectations of the users. That requires at first a discussion in which all team members take part to evaluate the mock-up and identify the potential challenges user might face when using already made solutions. Then comes the time to let real users test the prototype. We assume that the number of testers should be no bigger than 5 and in the case of redesigning/developing an already existing app further, they should all be familiar with the previous version. The test is conducted individually with each respondent and held on the functional mock-up following the storyboard. Usually, it takes from 45 to 60 minutes. Based on the results the team plans the following work and the changes that need to be implemented.
- The prototype verified by current/potential users
- List of post-research observations highlighted by the members of the team.
- List of tasks/modifications to be reviewed after the first iteration of changes created.
The following days are intended to modify the prototype according to the agreed list of tasks. Then these changes are verified/adjusted once again during a teleconference, and if necessary second, and last, iteration of modifications is being done. That’s also the time to clarify any open topics. After the UX design is finished comes the time to work over the GUI, but that deserves its own post and we will create one in the future, so remember to come back here occasionally.
User experience is what makes the product stand out in the market.
Is design sprint a silver bullet that will work in each and every scenario? Clearly not, but no methodology is. However, in most cases working according to this scenario allows us to design the UX not only fast but also good, and in the end that exactly what our clients are looking for. If the particular situation requires process changes our specialists are always happy to adapt the approach to designing so it would match the needs. And remember – even the best process won’t work without skilled and experienced facilitators and designers ready to grasp the idea in a blink of an eye and convert it to real, practical design.
What’s more even now, during these difficult times we’re capable of running this process safely – just like with remote cooperation start, we already had a chance to go through all the steps without meeting in person and have our ways to overcome any potential obstacles. If you want to discuss how we can help you achieve your goals and provide your clients with an astonishing experience – use the contact form at the bottom of this website.
About the authorSoftware Mind
Software Mind provides companies with autonomous development teams who manage software life cycles from ideation to release and beyond. For over 20 years we’ve been enriching organizations with the talent they need to boost scalability, drive dynamic growth and bring disruptive ideas to life. Our top-notch engineering teams combine ownership with leading technologies, including cloud, AI, data science and embedded software to accelerate digital transformations and boost software delivery. A culture that embraces openness, craves more and acts with respect enables our bold and passionate people to create evolutive solutions that support scale-ups, unicorns and enterprise-level companies around the world.