The UX Sprint

Johannes Holl
Nov 6, 2019 · 6 min read

A hands-on guide to a two-week process for constant, iterative and fast UX/UI design.

In the past years, our design studio optimized its process for UX/UI design. We experimented with all the catchy things: agile, design thinking, design sprints, scrum, lean — you name it. What we ended up with is the “UX Sprint”: our sprint format, that we perform on a regular basis mostly with startups and SMEs to launch MVPs, optimize for product-market-fit or just bring great design on the road.
Let me take you step-by-step through Boana’s UX Sprint framework.

At Boana, an UX Sprint is a two-week process that combines co-creation and remote work as well as workshops, user tests and hands-on UX/UI work. We adapted elements form scrum (e.g. user story map) and design sprints (e.g. regular testings) and mix them with good old-fashioned UX/UI design to transform the design task into the agile environment.

Let’s quickly look at an overview, before we guide you through it step-by-step.

The 1st week
Co-creation, UX/UI prototyping & user testing
Partly in co-creation with our clients

First week of a UX Sprint at Boana Design Studio
First week of a UX Sprint at Boana Design Studio

The 2nd week
Rework and refine designs & shipping results
Remote in our studio setup in fast production mode.

Second week of a UX Sprint at Boana Design Studio
Second week of a UX Sprint at Boana Design Studio

Preparing for a UX Sprint project

A bearded man writing post-its on a wall to create a user story map.
A bearded man writing post-its on a wall to create a user story map.

1 day
Participants: Lead product designer, Product Owner/Manager, optional: IT/Developer, Sales or Business owner.
Target: Set the project management structure and align on outcome.

In a one-day session together with the client team, we define user and business goals, look at the competition and most important: create a user story map that combines product features and outlook to the future. From this map, we derive the sprint planing and the focus for the testing in sprint one. The workshop agenda uses strategic tools from design sprints and agile tools from scrum. This day is quite time boxed.


The sprint starts — Week one (W1)

Define the stories to focus on
Who: Product Owner (Client), Lead Product Designer,
UX/UI Designer

Together with the product owner, we prioritize the functionalities of the product that should be designed first in this sprint. Also, we identify those stories which we like to focus on in the user testing.

User Flow Sessions
The user flow sessions are the most powerful and time saving tools in my eyes. It is a co-creation workshop with the product owner (plus other stakeholders like IT or operations). The team takes the user stories scoped for this sprint and sketches them quickly in abstract flows or wireframes. We preferably do those on a large whiteboard.

Prototype UX/UI Design
Who: UX/UI Designer, in feedback with Lead Product Designer
The outcome from the User Flow Sessions is the perfect foundation to start building up the product experience: screen by screen but usually starting with sketches about the core patterns of navigation.

Quick reviews
Who: Product Owner (Client), Lead Product Designer, UX/UI Designer
We tend to do quick review meetings with the product owner or client after two days of work — so Wednesday is usually a good moment to touch base.

Preparing user tests
Thursday late afternoon, we reach the moment where we consolidate all designs in a clickable high-fidelity prototype. Before and during the week, we have been reaching out for participant for the user test. We are set for the last day of week one: testing day.

Test designs in user interviews
Attending: A bunch of users, Designer as Interviewer,
Listening from the outside: Product Owner (Client), other interested stakeholders

The testing day follows the same pattern as in a GV design sprint or any other lean testing scenario. Test your designs and ideas with 5–8 users and follow a distinct script that gathers as much information as possible out of a 30–60 min time slot. Strive for idea validation as well as for optimization of UX/UI. Vacuum all info that comes to the testing table and that improves the product — no matter if strategy or design. Consolidate and validate the results directly after the testing to sort and vote on the insights. So the product designer has a clear scope for the start of the second sprint week.


Over the hump — Week two (W2)

Implement the insights from the user testing.
Who: UX/UI Designer, in feedback with Lead Product Designer

From concrete design changes to identify problems, there is a wide range of output a user interview will provide you with. Consolidate all those insights and bring it to the existing design. Build further variations if possible.
From experience, this takes at least a day.

Screenshot from a layout software, showing three screens for a desktop application.
Screenshot from a layout software, showing three screens for a desktop application.

Refine and design UX / UI
Who: UX/UI Designer, in feedback with Lead Product Designer
For the middle part of week 2, the focus of work is creating as many user stories as possible to transform the prototype into a proper user experience. Refine functionalities and UI elements created in week 1. Also, craft new user stories that are in scope of this sprint but did not demand a user test. The goal: Bring the prototype to a new stage.

Quick reviews
Who: Product Owner (Client), Lead Product Designer, UX/UI Designer, Developers
In the same manner as in week one, we do fast sessions criticizing layouts and discuss underlying problems together with the stakeholders — preferably the product owner.

Work on design system
Who: UX/UI Designer
The last step in each sprint is finishing the designs. It is a good moment to invest some time in the structure of the UI and to document UX pattern. Everything that brings a benefit for production or further sprints.

Export layouts & Ship to development
Who: UX/UI Designer, IT / Engineers / Developers
At Boana, we tend to user Zeplin.io and/or InVision to export our UI designs. Briefing engineers about the intended solutions is often another meeting or video call. Some details are better talked about than just throwing it over a fence. It’s better to do proper “developer handovers”.

End of sprint: continue with the next one or start a new project.


When to use a UX sprint?

The UX Sprint sets a clear focus on shipping tested layouts and designs and working alongside with development and business. At Boana, we recommend using it in setups that are ready to take decisions and to bring products on the road faster.

What are your experiences?
I would love to get your perspective and maybe even experiences with sprinting design. Drop us a line here or leave us a comment on medium.

Boana Stories

Design Studio for User Experience

Johannes Holl

Written by

Lead Product Designer UX/UI & Partner @Boana

Boana Stories

Design Studio for User Experience

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