How Google Apps Facilitate A Remote Design Sprint

Nothing high tech here but it is all about simply taking full advantages of the basic google apps for lossless remote collaboration on each stage of a design sprint.

It’s takes some time to initially introduce the term “design sprint” to the team every time and it seems harder to communicate efficiently without being in the same room. However, after we tested our own way of doing this, we are confident that with minimal learning curves, a successful remote design sprint can still be achieved easily.

A simple background of the sprint team — Four team members are in LA, one in SF, one in London and our decision maker was constantly on business trips during that week.

Besides, NO NEW DESIGN/MEETING TOOLS that your team need to learn/install/adapt to except the most commonly used google apps.


Before the sprint starts, we created a dedicated sprint Google Drive folder including a brief to give everyone a concrete heads-up. This included an intro of the GV design sprint concept, our Design brief (Challenge, Scope, Deliverables, Budget..), Schedule, and Participants.

We have participants in different time zones so we made sure our schedule could really work and it was clearly explained. We also created a whole week worth of events and deadlines in the Google Calendar & Invites.

Design Brief & Schedule


The Google Drawing Board is a great replacement of a real whiteboard. By providing the group with individual “ HMW sticky notes”(yellow squares) and votes (little blue squares), the meeting actually went more efficiently than a regular whiteboard discussion. Moreover, this digital board became a great reference that the group could always go back and review in the shared folder.

A Digital Whiteboard Discussion (Content Blurred)


After we made sure everyone was on the same page, on Tuesday, everyone demoed references they’ve found. While presenting, rest of the group made comments on the right in the slide and the facilitator took notes for the presenter.

Group Lightning Demos & Discussion in One Slide
One of the lessons we learned from the last design sprint was that — we need to guide the group by sketching out their individual ideas. They don’t need to be overly meticulous but it’s important to maintain similar level of detail on every sketch.

Providing the group with a guide/template made our subsequent review & voting portion way neater and more efficient. The template provides a lucid baseline in terms of what should be explained and presented without straddling the group’s ideas.

Digital/Easy to Print Sketch Template


“Art Museum” is always the highlight of a design sprint. Here, instead of hanging everyone’s sketch inside a room and voting by sticking dots, all the sketches and the votes were packed into a single google slide file.

I highly recommend even it’s called a “sketch” , Copies in the sketches should be type out since it will save time for the group to review.
Art Museum & Voting

Last but not least, after the group decided on a direction, we cut and pasted those sketches into a full customer journey story board in preparation of the final prototyping phase. Again, we used the presenter’s notes area to write out everyone’s responsibility for the prototype.

Storyboarding by Cut & Paste

We expected to see energy tapering off during the meetings since the team was geographically scattered. However, these new ways of using the apps sort of gamified the whole process. It’s interesting to watch people’s thinking process by seeing them drag around their votes. it’s also valuable to have all the comments & thoughts digitally documented for future references.