Conventionally we use in-person Design Sprints to design much of our client’s work. However, as our client list grows and our clients start appearing all around the region, we knew there would come a time when flying out or having the clients fly in would not be feasible. Which is why we decided to develop a plan for a remote Design Sprint that would include all the elements of the in-person sort.
Remote design - How we do it
Since there are many steps that are required for in-person Design Sprints we decided to change up a few steps in order to fully adapt to this new way of doing things.
[If you are not familiar with what a design sprint is, Click Here to read our article on design sprints]
Normally the Mäd Design Sprint is comprised of:
- Monday (with client)- Journey mapping & solution sketching.
- Tuesday (with client)- Testable hypothesis.
- Wednesday (internal)- Prototype creation.
- Thursday (internal)- Testing.
- Friday - Present prototype to client & final revisions
However, the remote Design Sprint has to be a bit different due to the unavailability of face to face reviews and co-working. Here’s the slightly different process:
- Monday (Online with client)- Journey mapping
- Tuesday (Online with client)- Testable hypothesis.
- Wednesday (internal)- Solution Sketching & Prototype creation.
- Thursday (internal)- Testing.
- Friday- Present prototype to client & final revisions
The one key difference between the sprints, apart from the obvious online only interaction, was that the solution sketching was made internally and not with the client during the sprint. This was due to some time constraints and allowed a more simple design of the sketching. This was a clear problem from the beginning, and the Design Team was not sure how this might affect the work. In the end, having the solution sketching made without the client present did not present as a problem as it required only a few revisions after and did not, in the end, take up more time than it would have within the sprint.
The reason why design sprints are done face to face is for personal interaction and immediate responses from all stakeholders. This means that everyone in the room is sharing ideas, writing them on the boards and then voting on the best solutions for the different problems. However, with a remote Sprint there was no real way to collaborate within one place. So the search for a software that allowed this began.
The Software that brought it all together - RealTime Board.
RealTime Board allowed the Design Team to digitize the Design Sprint. Their software allowed our designers to replicate the exact conditions a design sprint would have if this was done in person. They had a mock whiteboard and had add-ons such as sticky notes that you could use. These elements are mostly all that we need to be able to collaborate together with our client during these two intense days.
However, nothing comes without downsides. There is some training involved to get the client acquainted with both how the Design Sprint works but also how to learn the software to do it remotely from wherever they are in the world. Luckily, RealTime Board has a quite simple process and has a simple, intuitive design, which allows for a smooth online crash course.
This software really allowed us to make this sprint happen. From beginning to the end we were not disappointed by the capabilities it had. The clients were more than happy with the results that this sprint brought them and definitely didn't feel like they were not able to give their input as they would in a face-to-face sprint.
In the end, it is not how the Design Sprint is done but how it was managed. We have gotten very effective at managing our sprints in person, which made this transition a smooth one. We highly recommend that you don't start with remote sprints if you are new to this kind of work.
As we grow and expand internationally, this method continues to gain importance, and we continue tweaking and mastering it. Design sprints are also evolving as we speak, and we make sure to evolve with them in all aspects.
All in all, doing a remote design sprint did not change the outcome of our work. We still provide the client with our best work and allow their brand, product, and company to be as successful as possible. Don’t be afraid of change as it's the only way to innovate.