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OK, we just ran our first (Google Ventures) Design Sprint according to Jake Knapp's et. al. "Sprint" book. It was a very productive and overall pleasant event.

Putting on my meta UX hat, I handed out questionnaires at the end of every day to gather feedback for the individual activities conducted and the overall approval of the results that the team achieved that day.

We were to re-envision a very old school Windows Desktop B2B application. Everything was honky dory, until we reached the prototyping day. We went into the day with a detailed story board and a clear vision of what had to be build.

The product should look like a native Windows Office application. Hence, we followed the book's recommendation to use PowerPoint. To speed up things, we bought a set of templates from Keynotopia for not having to build windows, buttons and the like ourselves.

However, it wasn't too much fun, after all. These were my team's responses on a 5-point Likert scale (0 = Don't agree at all; 4 = Fully agree]:

  • I like the resulting prototype: mean 1.7, median 2
  • PowerPoint was the right choice as prototyping tool: mean 0.7, median 1
  • Keynotopia templates were a time-saver: mean 1.3, median 1

From my observation, one major problem was the limited ability to split up remaining work once the stitcher started to put things together, and missing features like layers and symbols like one has in Illustrator.

"Stitcher" is a term from the Sprint book. It refers to the person who gathers individual screens and components from the "Makers", who create these parts. Her task is to iron out inconsistencies and stitch the screens together to form the complete prototype.

The only thing that prevented the Sprint from falling apart was the fact that prototyping happened on Friday and User Tests were scheduled for Monday. So some weekend-heroics yielded a polished prototype which actually outperformed our existing software significantly (in the statistical sense, 5 users filled out a SUS-questionnaire each for the old software and the PowerPoint-prototype).

So in the end the Sprint was a full success. However, I'd rather not expose my team to a set of tools that let them down before.

Has anyone encountered a situation like this before? Is it a tooling problem? Is it a coordination problem?

Edit: After fixing the prototype on the weekend the result was rated 3.7 on the [0..4]-scale, and all team-members would wholeheartedly recommend the Design Sprint to a friend with a design problem.

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    GV = Google Ventures? Are you following their Sprint book? – SteveD Jul 19 '16 at 13:55
  • Yes. Sorry, if that was not clear. – Chris Jul 19 '16 at 14:01
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    Sounds pretty clear that one day is not enough time to design a prototype, and that you chose poor tools (powerpoint!) to do so. (FWIW, and here I move into Highly Opinionated Mode: "agile methodology essentially a failure, rescued only by weekend heroics" is a very, very familiar story. Agile is (finally) starting to fall out of favor in the development world; it's very disappointing to see it start to infect the design world...) – Daniel Beck Jul 19 '16 at 14:56
  • @DanielBeck, I don't see any mention to Agile on the question – Devin Jul 20 '16 at 1:41
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    @Devin, "sprint" is agile jargon. GV's Sprint book carefully avoids using the word "agile" -- see above re "finally starting to fall out of favor" -- but it's obviously a light reskin of the same methodology. – Daniel Beck Jul 20 '16 at 1:53
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With only a day to prototype it depends of how many tasks you want your testers to perform, and how complex those interactions are. If you think that static screens will do the job, I would probably go for Invision, for its colaboration features and interaction helpers, and still very simple and fast. You would have do create your static screens in whatever software you prefer and import the jpgs or pdfs to Invision. If you need a rich prototype, with some transitions and conditions, I will go with Axure. Apart of all that, you really need those assets ready-made to save time.

  • Thanks for the pointer to Invision and Axure. In my experience, Axure gets almost everything done, but requires more time and effort than let's say Balsamiq or PowerPoint. I guess adding a day or two to the design sprint would be required. Would that be a fair assessment? – Chris Jul 20 '16 at 9:50
  • Yes, it could be enough, but it always depends of the project. If it's a big project, I would break it in small bits, test, refine, and then move to the next bit, as you advance you will have more and more information, allowing you to make informed decisions on going. I love the prototyping day, it's where things gets more real. Our team decide what are the top tasks to test and then I try to simulate (as perfect as I can) the patterns behaviour. – Mr. G Jul 20 '16 at 14:45
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At the very beginning of a design I find anything more constrained than a whiteboard or paper and pen to be a big slowdown to creativity and overall speed of unleashing ideas.

Only after a basic flow/layout is determined do I get into digital tools.

  • We had a pretty good storyboard with 15 panels/screens (even some content, not just wireframes) before we started "implementing" the real prototype. At least in my opinion, lack of preparation was not the issue. – Chris Jul 20 '16 at 7:31
  • Hmm maybe I'm confused then. What were you doing in PowerPoint? Were you transferring the designs into PowerPoint in a group setting (eg 1 person builds while the rest watch?) I've found that group activities work best when everyone can contribute. If this was a room full of people watching one person build I can see how it would be boring for everyone else. – scunliffe Jul 20 '16 at 14:04
  • We broke up the Storyboard into individual components. One Person would create a "Desktop", one the main application window. Another would create some dialog window, the next pop-ups. According to the book, these parts are supposed to be ready in the early afternoon, when one person would start stitching them together. However, we never actually reached that part of the day. – Chris Jul 22 '16 at 7:59

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