Design in a day – Leeds Digital Festival 2019

May 10, 2019 10:39 am

Design in a day – Leeds Digital Festival 2019

My time at Leeds Digital Festival was rounded off by attending the all-day ‘Design in a Day’ workshop from Hippo Digital. Walking into a room full of post its, sharpies, whiteboard pens, and ceiling to floor whiteboards – it was very clear I was in the right place.

The workshop set out to teach and upskill everyone (from people involved in UX and service design, to those who had never even worked in Digital before) to be able to blast through a design sprint in just one day. The brilliant thing about the varied nature of the groups was the different perspectives every individual brought to the table, and the range of ideas that were suggested.

Our table and workings on paper and whiteboard

The whole day was spent working through the entire agile design sprint process: creating hypotheses and assumptions > user journey mapping > coming up with the solution using Crazy 8’s and storyboarding > prototyping > conducting guerrilla testing > presenting back our research process and findings (phew!)

My group working hard to finalise our ‘how might we’ statements

Armed with the question ‘How can we encourage people to be more proactive with their health?’ our teams set out to create a hypothesis, that by the close of play, we would be able to test and report back on. One really great way of breaking down the hypothesis into something you can start to tackle, I learnt, is by turning the hypothesis into a ‘how might we?’ statement. ‘How might we?’ is a different way of approaching the hypothesis, and making it into a question allows for more ways to come up with ideas.

My team’s design sprint was centred around improving isolation in individuals with chronic illnesses (specifically COPD) by finding others going through similar experiences to support and inform them. We came up with an online community hub to ameliorate loneliness and inform the person with tailored information, how best they could holistically live their lives alongside managing their long-term condition.

The most challenging part of the day in my opinion, was nearing the end of the sprint and clarifying on paper how we wanted our prototype to look and work. Thinking through the steps our users would take on the platform was the simple part – but it was very easy to have lots of ideas and make the prototype too complicated, which wasn’t an option given the time limit we had. We had to narrow down what we really wanted to know about how users navigated our platform and focus on just creating that one user flow accordingly.

When it came to testing, I volunteered myself as the user (it was very fun), and rotated across the different teams to test their low-fi prototypes. The groups that I interacted with came up with fantastic ideas, and some very realistic paper prototypes! Here’s a video of me testing one of the other team’s prototypes, thanks to Tamsin Ward for sharing.

My team presenting our design sprint at the show and tell

Upon regrouping and discussing the research insights, we did a beer fuelled ‘show and tell’ to the room. It was fantastic to hear in-depth about the other groups’ concepts, findings, and their thought processes behind what they had created.

Will, one of the facilitators, talking to the room about design sprints

Hints and tips when it comes to design sprints –

  • You don’t have to be perfect to try. Getting something down and discussing your ideas with your team is always going to be more effective than just solo ideation.
  • Think outside of the box – the most effective solution for your users may not always be a digital one.
  • It’s not about the tool, it’s about taking the time to fully understand the problem and the users rather than getting caught up in ‘we must use this tool or approach’. Be flexible and adaptable.
  • Anyone can draw. A degree in fine art is not a prerequisite for successfully completing a design sprint – it’s about strongly conveying a concept and a coherent story rather than perfectly drawn illustrations.
  • Give it a go! You can only learn from the process, and due to the agile nature, you’re going to be starting the process again in the next round of testing anyway. Keep learning and iterating.

This type of session worked really well as there was a great energy in the room throughout the day, and the facilitators were skilled at openly provoking discussion and supporting us through the process. People from different job roles and walks of life were brought together to get stuck into an important problem and collaborated with no-fuss or pretension. Just real, hands-on problem solving. A great end to LDF 2019.

Thanks to Hippo Digital, Mark Branigan, Fern Williams, Leah Thompson, Aimee Heywood, and Will Hepworth for holding and facilitating the event.