Design Sprints can be like walking on eggshells with everyone under one roof – Here’s a guide to run a sprint with your distributed team.
Almost all the teams have found themselves remote working from home since last year due to the coronavirus-induced pandemic. The situation put them in a position to figure out the best way to communicate and get things done within the dead of night. Needless to say, physical distances should not be a barrier to creativity and collaboration.
As the world pivots to remote working, every mobile app development company has realized that they need to be more coordinated to unlock the team’s collective creativity and excel in their work.
For a process that requires strong deep collaborative skills, generative approach and physical presence of everyone, how do you perform a successful remote design sprint in the current as well as the post-covid world?
Well, we’ve got you all covered. Now when remote has become the new workplace normal and with everything going on in the world, work from home seems like a much better option
Therefore, ahead is a remote design sprint guide for you to run a successful and productive design sprint with your distributed team.
But first thing first!
What Is Design Sprint?
A five-day process for answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers.
-Jake Knapp, Design Sprint Inventor
Made famous by Google Ventures, a design sprint is a five-day process where diverse team members work in sync to understand, prototype, design and test a product for consumers, i.e. Devising solutions for a business problem by emphasizing collaboration, solution sketching, building prototype and user testing.
If the solution gets a thumbs up, it goes straight into full-scale product development.
The Design Sprint framework is the brainchild of Jake Knapp that is modelled after IDEO’s design-thinking framework. The concept of Design Sprints has been used by the biggest corporate giants such as Google, Facebook, Slack, Uber and Coca-Cola.
The process is becoming more and more popular & is being utilized to run a business with distributed agile team successfully. The objective here is to validate the product before moving towards development and launch. In short, design sprint activities are fairly popular in the market for perfecting the launch of a new product.
Moving forward, we talk about why you need a design sprint, what is design sprint process, the design sprint checklist and much more. Keep up with us!
Why Remote Design Sprints?
If you think Remote Design Sprints are just temporary, adaptive strategies to survive these times of Corona – Well, you are wrong! When done the right way, the process has unique benefits to offer that help teams build products better together.
Let’s say you have trending app ideas for a business, so you don’t have to wait to launch your first prototype and see the results; Design Sprints can be a shortcut to launching and prototyping.
Besides, you can get an idea of your customers’ reactions before making high investments in the potential errors.
This way you gain an upper hand to move forward while your competitors are standing still. You can picture it as a time machine that lets you move into the future and see how your design will ultimately look like.
Here are the benefits of a remote design sprint:
#1 – Stronger & Better Solutions
An in-person sprint demands a team to sketch its ideas in a limited amount of time. This keeps the mind focused, eliminates procrastination and prevents people from overthinking or any sort of diversion. Also, the social pressure of the environment keeps people on their toes to perform their best.
However, such strategies may not work every time and for everyone. Many people are able to bring out their best when given more privacy, ample time and more control over how they work it out. Similarly, every sprint challenge is different – some require more thoughtful consideration and contemplation than others. So you see not all good ideas can come in an instant and make it to the paper.
Therefore, remote sprints give a better opportunity to sketch the idea down at a pace a person is comfortable with. Provided the team follows a modular sprint plan throughout the day, they can develop better ideas, in their private zone, that could outperform others. The increased time, privacy and pace that works best empower people to drive stronger solutions.
#2 – Better Team Coordination & Connectivity
Getting to work with the ideal team can be quite a task given everyone’s busy and different schedules & time zones as well in some cases.
Remote design sprint eliminates this by giving you the opportunity to cherry-pick the very best people and connect with them virtually. Let’s face the fact that it is much easier to log in to a call instantly than spending hours commuting and shuffling schedules to find availability.
#3 – Simple Synthesising
Data capturing is one of the biggest challenges of a design sprint. Tabulating the data and sharing the screenshots of each and every document, post it, etc. by the facilitator can be a major dampener.
And even after all this, the struggle doesn’t end here.
The data has to be documented on a digital platform, arranged and reported. Pretty time-consuming and hectic process.
But not so in a Remote Design Sprint. Provided you have multiple tools at the tap of a button such as digital whiteboards and output boards that stage your sprint and capture your data as you move respectively. Not only this gives a better view of the progress made so far, but also makes data arrangement (editing/addition) a lot easier and quicker.
So these were some of the considerable benefits of following a Remote Design Sprint process. Moving ahead in our remote design sprint guide, let’s talk about the things to be taken care of when running a design sprint remotely.
Here at Appventurez, we have already run hundreds of Design Sprints over the span of 4 years, that too in-person as well as remotely. Both ways, we have been able to successfully design complex products and solve business challenges. Want to know how? We can help you make your work easier, efficient and more collaborative.
Things To Be Taken Care Of When Running Design Sprint Remotely
A remote design sprint is a tried and tested process that has been a game-changer in solving complex problems and corroborate ideas through design, prototyping and testing with users.
However, it’s not a cakewalk to run a remote design print smoothly. Here are the things you need to take care of:
#1 – Time Zone Difference & Team Availability
It can get bothersome to schedule and align the distributed team for a longer period since the process of design sprint demands intense work sessions.
#2 – Tech-Related Issues
Poor internet connection, power failure, low battery devices, low-quality video calls and so on can hamper your remote sessions. Take care of technical troubleshooting beforehand – Keep your devices charged, install a stable internet connection and get a timely service for your hardware to achieve a kind of work-from-home nirvana.
Being the leading mobile app design company, we tick all the boxes to ensure that the technology part of the sprint is on point before the process begins.
#3 – Low Engagement
While performing a regular sprint, the entire team is working together at the same time and physical space, keeping them focused and on the same page. When working remotely, there may be a slight variation in schedule or routine but that can be managed with timely coordination.
Though the issues are easy to take care of, they can often lead to frustration. But isn’t looking for solutions, experimentation and making mistakes that creep in are a part of any process?
Eventually, we have found the right blend of tools and technologies and structure to make remote design sprints work. Keep scrolling!
Pre-Design Sprint Model
“Design sprint exercises allow participants to peel back the complexities with discrete thought experiments. This gives stakeholders more visibility into the nuances of the problem and the workings of the potential solution. The more visibility, the more likely a proposed solution will get support from all involved.”
Design Sprint is proven to help think out of the box, shift away from a tedious traditional approach and encourage a faster decision-making process. Here’s how to get started-
#1 – Put Together The Design Sprint Material & Template Beforehand
To take full advantage of the remote design sprint, collect and organize all the materials (project documentation, customer insights, market research, etc.) in advance. The documents should be shared with the team before the process starts.
It’s also important to give everyone an overview of what’ll happen during a Design Sprint. Since the process is intense and demands pulling out all the stops, it’s best to make sure everyone is aware of what will happen. They need to understand the challenges involved and the expectations from them.
#2 – Assemble The Team
The process is usually 5-days long and puts together a team that shares defined visions, goals and deliverables. Most design sprints’ team is made up of 5 to 8 members with a balanced mix of skills, experience and expertise.
We, at Appventurez, put together a team of 7 members where the master is the leader of both the team and process. He/She leads the team through the design sprint process by setting the workflow. There is a facilitator who is responsible for the progress of the project by keeping everyone on the same page assisted by all sorts of technical help. The engineers/developers focus on the mobile app usability cycle.
#3 – Schedule The Sprint
For a successful UX design sprint, you need to make sure the entire team is available for five days straight without any distractions. We understand scheduling 5 days can be tricky when working remotely but since this is how the process moves, we convince everyone to free their time and make themselves available.
Let the teammates know when they’ll be needed and for how long. It’s best to allot a nine-hour window to the participants across time zones. Keep your team up with challenges, the schedule, the duration and a checklist of things to do.
Also, Read | UX Mistakes To Avoid When Designing An App
#4 – Software Tools For Logistics
When working remotely or with a distributed team an unbothered and undistracted office and tech setup should come naturally. For the unversed, here are the must-haves:
- Good, reliable internet connection
- An uninterrupted space
- Whiteboard to make the sketches on
The image displays some of the collaboration tools that work wonders for us.
We recommend you leverage this toolkit that guarantees fast, meaningful and fruitful remote operations. Next, in our product design sprint guide, we talk about the Remote Product Design Sprint process. Keep reading!
Remote Product Design Sprint Process
In this section, we’ll get you acquainted with the process of remote Design Sprint. There are five phases of each Design Sprint:
Let’s walk through each step of the five-day process turn-by-turn.
Day 1 – Understand
Roll out the problem and pick the area of focus.
You’ve already briefed your team about the project. In this phase of the sprint, data collection and analysis are used to discuss everything there is to know about the project.
‘Why are building this’, ‘What’s the objective’, ‘What value will it provide to the users and when’ – Basically, you need to give your team a comprehensive view of the challenge, inside and out.
But how do you make it happen? To carry out a successful design sprint, our team at Appventurez mostly uses the competitive analysis method, brainstorming, performing field visits (yes, we actually go on-site) and even conducting some expert interviews to get the insights that give a 360-degree view of the challenge and reach mobile app user persona.
Now, go take a break, have a coffee and gear up for the second day i.e.
Day 2 – Sketch
While phase 1 is all about understanding and analyzing the problem, phase 2 is all about solutions. At this stage, each team member put a pen on paper to sketch out competing solutions. Sketching is the best technique to advance from an abstract idea to something concrete for everyone to assess and picture the actual product.
The sketches you do today will be the cornerstone of the MVP you’ll be building tomorrow. It is often recommended to begin with a process called a lightning demo that allows you to evaluate great solutions. You can practice the Crazy 8’s technique where each team member sketches down the idea that excites them the most in 8 minutes. This way you end up with several variations for a single idea in just eight minutes.
By the end of the day, you’ll have a number of elaborated solutions, ready to be evaluated.
Day 3 – Decide
The third step remote design sprint guide is to make decisions and turn the ideas into a testable hypothesis.
Now that you have many solutions sketched up from day 2, it’s time to filter and choose the best one to create a comprehensive end-to-end sketch. Further, the winning idea/ideas are storyboarded (A frame-by-frame plan for your prototype) in greater detail.
Now the team is clear about what they want for their prototype.
Day 4 – Prototype
Day 4 consists of prototyping and wireframing; The most valuable part of the remote design sprint activities. Prototyping is rounding up all the work a team has done so far in terms of creating a solution.
Now that your idea is decided and you have the storyboard ready, march to the prototype development stage. The task here is to not build a fully functioning product but a prototype that appears realistic and brings you feedback from your users.
At the end of the day, update the team about the progress made so far and let them examine what they’ve achieved in just four days.
A tool named protopie helps designers translate their work engineering. It is a simple tool that lets the designers take their existing designs and use them to build everything (Simple prototypes to advanced interactions) quickly without having to write any code.
Also, Read | UX Mistakes To Avoid When Designing An App
Day 5 – Testing
Validation is the most important and compulsory part of a remote design sprint process. In this last step, you test your prototype with real users, watch their reactions and share the experience with the team. Every mobile app design agency knows how important it is to record the user’s reaction before your design sprint storyboard engineers to a fully functioning product.
After a week-long toiling, we are sure your team will walk away with the confidence and satisfaction that they have developed something that will benefit the customers in a good way.
Read | Mobile App Testing Guide
Remote Design Sprint Guide’s Tips & Tricks
- Each team member should have his/her own digital workspace to stay focused.
- If you are finding it difficult to bring together everyone at the same time, divide the remote design sprint activities across two weeks.
- Be considerate of people’s time and constraints.
- Prepare a sprint brief and template before the actual work begins.
- Ensure everyone has the tools they need to participate and work smoothly.
- Make use of virtual whiteboards to create separate spaces for activities.
- Add enough timely breaks.
- Make being flexible part of your plan.
- Don’t push multi-tasking; The focus of the team should be on the session only throughout the design sprint session.
We know leading remote sprints isn’t that easy, but you’ve got this.
How Appventurez Can Help You Run A Successful Design Sprint?
There you have it! Design Sprint is the ultimate framework to uncover users’ needs and bring out potential solutions. Whether you are planning to build a website, an app, an eCommerce site, wearable designing or any other digital product, a design sprint would be a perfect fit.
Now that you’re all well-versed, try running a design sprint of your own.
Rest, if you are just starting out and concerns like ‘Is design sprint a good process for my product?’ or ‘When is it worth using a design sprint’ eating you up, we are just a call away.
At Appventurez, we’ve successfully run multiple design sprints every now and then. So if you are looking for a great product design and development company for your ideas, get in touch with us!
A technocrat and an entrepreneur who is the Co-Founder and Chief Delivery Head at Appventurez. Skilled in object-oriented programming (OOP), iOS Development, Design Principles, Data Structures, and Swift, he has served different organizations as Tech Lead.
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