Google Ventures Design Sprint: Day One (Understand)

Following the Google Ventures design sprint process, day one is themed “understand”. This day of the sprint is dedicated to understanding the product or idea. Google Ventures Design Staff describes the day as follows:

Business opportunity — The CEO or product leader should walk the sprint team through the business opportunity and market.

Lightning demos — Look at competitors’ products. It can also be helpful to look at non-competitive products that solve a similar kind of problem in a different market.

Lay it out — Print out all the important screens in your product, lay it out, and walk through it as a user would.

Success metrics — How will you measure the success of this design? Now’s a great time to talk about success metrics. We like to use Kerry Rodden’s HEART framework.

Existing research — If you have user research for your product, that’s awesome, and you should be sure to go over it. If not, you should talk about whatever data you do know about your customers.

Team interviews — Knowledge about the problem is usually distributed across the company. We’ve found it very useful to go around interviewing people at the company who have specific expertise, whether that’s engineering or sales or customer service. (Customer service people often have incredibly valuable information about the problem.)

Analytics — Look at any data you have on feature usage, where customers drop off your site, conversion rates, etc.

As the creator if the concept, Anders Svensson took the role of CEO or product leader. Decoder President Tim Nakamura took the role of facilitator. Other team members included Kelly Tweddell (Decoder Project Manager), Chelsea Klukas (Decoder UX/Design), Don Wieshlow (Uppercut COO), Anne Dawson (Uppercut Product Manager), Dan Parry (Uppercut Art Director), Mark Vanderland (Uppercut Art Director), and Stephen Peasley (Uppercut Developer).

Anders led us through the product concept: an innovative tool for connecting media and bloggers with new products, ideas, and services. Prior to the meeting Anders had already conducted extensive research on the business opportunity, customers, and competitors. 150 targeted users were invited to a research survey. Based on the results of the survey we were able to assess the business opportunity (the results indicated that there was a demand for the product), our ideal customers (we discovered who would be most likely to use the product), and ideal pricing structure (the survey offered a number of pricing options, including free, and it was determined that users would be willing to pay for the product). This survey validated that we should invest in this product and generated excitement within the team. We also felt that we would have benefitted from being involved in the research as a group, as most of the research was already completed prior to the design sprint. We made notes to ensure that for the next design sprint we took a collaborative approach to the research, rather than having the product leader conduct it beforehand.

Our group looked at competitor’s sites and similar products in other markets. We took notes on our competitors and made assessments of what features were successful and what features could be improved on.

Decoder Design Sprint Day 1

As suggested by Google we used the HEART framework to evaluate user success metrics. We analyzed the product through the framework (HEART: Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, Task success) to understand user behaviours and success metrics. This framework was new to many of us, and we were uncertain of how to apply it at this stage of the process. This was an area we decided to research and spend more time on for the next sprint.

Having established an understanding of the product, we determined the two main audiences. As a team we drew a high-level flowchart of each user’s workflow.

Due to the shortened time period (to complete client work we chose to use two hours per day rather than the recommended eight hours) our facilitator set strict time restraints to ensure the day stayed on track. Checking e-mails, texting, and side conversations were forbidden, and a few of us were scolded by Tim for breaking the rules and checking iPhones.

Day one went smoothly for our team. Most of our success was credited to the extensive research that Anders had prepared prior to the meeting, although we agreed that in future sprints we would benefit from doing this research as a group. At the end of the session we all felt that we had a clear understanding of the product and the problems to be solved over the next four days.

Stay tuned for day two of our design sprint process: diverge.

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