This is part two of a series on design sprints. This post will cover the first stage in the design sprint framework: Understand. It’s an overview, not an exhaustive description. I’d recommend reading my first post about design sprint planning and prep before reading this post.
To recap, the design sprint framework has five main stages: Understand, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Test. Each stage has activities from which you can pick and choose to achieve the best results for your sprint.
Stage one: Understand
The Understand stage is the foundation that supports the entire sprint. It’s in this stage that you share the information you gathered during your prep work, create a shared vision for success, and prepare yourself for the activities to come.
The best way to kick off a sprint is to review expectations about how people should participate. It is important that the first two stages of the sprint be analog—pencil and paper, no computers or devices—so people can focus on the information being shared without distraction.
Next, share the problem you’re trying to solve, as well as the goals for what you want to achieve during the sprint. Make sure everyone has a good understanding of what you’re doing before going any further. It can be helpful to have the problem and goals displayed in the room, so team members can refer back to them throughout the sprint.
Sharing the research
If you are doing a shorter sprint—half-day or one-day—it’s helpful to share the research you’ve done beforehand, so people can come to the sprint ready to go. Do a recap of the target audiences and the most important things you know about them, and allow time for questions and discussion.
If you are doing a longer sprint consider using lightning talks to share the research. Lightning talks help with team member engagement by spreading the research responsibilities across the entire team.
Understanding your UX vision
I was fortunate enough to attend the 2017 Design/Content Conference workshop about design sprints. I had done design sprints before, but this workshop included some techniques that were new to me. The biggest of which being the need to understand your user experience (UX) vision.
The UX vision is a statement that defines the experience you want people to have when interacting with your product.
Creating your UX vision
The UX vision statement is a sentence or two that says what you want your product to be in the future. It reframes the problem into a positive statement against which you can check your work.
Here’s an example…
“A web first system that allows students to access student service information in any way they choose.”
Let’s break it down.
- “A web first system”—Clarifies that this is not an app—it’s web-based.
- “Allows students to access student service information.”—Defines the audience and the tasks that the audience needs to complete.
- “In any way they choose.”—Starts to define how people will interact with the system. In this case we’re saying the system needs to be adaptable and work across many platforms.
The UX vision statement is internal—you don’t need to spend a lot of time getting the words perfect. The sentiment is what’s important.
Identifying design principles
These are principles that help guide the design. Usually there are three to five guiding principles for a project. Some examples include:
- Users first—helping people get to the information they need through common user interactions
- For real students—Connect with students by creating content with a voice that is genuine to them
As you move through the sprint activities the team should frequently check their ideas against the UX vision and design principles.
Upcoming posts will focus on the other stages of the design sprint. Until then I’d like to leave you with some things we’ve learned from our sprint experiences.
Words of wisdom
- Provide a detailed agenda of the sprint—especially if it is your first outing.
- Expectation management is critical to success.
- Force people to go analog by collecting devices at the beginning of the sprint.