Design Sprints: Fast Tracking Solutions

Kat Alderman
Oct 5, 2017 · 7 min read

In our first UI/UX module with Ironhack, we learned about the Google Ventures Design Sprint. Coming from a working world of long, extensive, time consuming, unorganized, inefficient, not well planned and chaotic design and development projects, I perked up when our instructor showed us that the design process can be done in just five days — how can you get people to agree on something in just five days???

If you haven’t quit by Friday, congratulations!

In this post, I’ll break down each day’s activities into the steps we learned about in the module. We worked on a real life example on how to improve the Bloom Box Miami website — a flower box delivery site that aims to make its shopping experience to be as simple, fresh, and fun as their flower boxes are.

Gather Your Research

Start your sprint with your research already complete — surveys, interviews, analytics review, stakeholder interviews all need to be complete and gathered. You need some general idea of the business, its potential problems, its goals, and who its customers are in order to get started. We started with quantitative and qualitative research and a project brief that introduced us to this company and its current situation.

Monday: Map the Experiences

Every single color marker ran out when I was drawing this map

We mapped the entire experience — not just the experience for new customers — so that we better understood the current situation and all of the various ways someone from Bloom Box could impact a touchpoint. This included even thinking about how the florist gets involved in putting together a box. We started out on a whiteboard but moved to a glass wall with post-it notes once we had the skeleton of the experience mapped out. Working with post-it notes allowed us to easily move steps around, and we just drew arrows on the glass wall to connect steps together.

Find Pain Points

Use your qualitative and quantititative data to find pain points in the current process. You can circle these areas in your map. You’ll use these pain points to generate your “How Might We?” questions for the sprint.

How Might We?

Generate concepts for what goals you might be selecting for your sprint. Start with the phrase “How might we…” and complete the statement with questions reflective of the problems you found in the quantitative and qualitative data. We then organized the questions into groups — an affinity diagram — which organizes perspectives and points of view into groups or categories. Have everyone select their top two questions for the next step.

The “How Might We?” Questions

Put your top two questions on the experience map wherever they apply — in our example, we asked “How might we guarantee that what you received is what you ordered?” and this was put in the map under the “post purchase” section of the experience.

How Might We? — Mapped to the experience

Our map ended up looking like this:

Our final experience map, including the “how might we” questions we generated.

We all voted on what we thought the sprint question should be at this point. We selected: “How might we educate the consumer on the flower shopping experience and expectations?”

Our final “How Might We?”

Tuesday: Sketch with Crazy Eights

Let your creativity shine in this quick exercise — divide a piece of paper into 8 sections and spend one minute sketching a solution to your problem in each panel. The entire team should participate in this exercise.

Crazy Eights — Do this until you start repeating yourself or you run out of ideas

Remix & Improve

Find real examples of sites or businesses that have a solution in place that is similar to what you drew — for example, in the Bloom Box Miami example, you could show Amazon’s product detail page where they show multiple angles of photos for a product in order to demonstrate the “better imagery” crazy eight sketch solution. Give a “lightning demo” — a fast presentation to your team of the examples you found — to help explain your solution sketch.


Select one of your sketches from the crazy eight — the one you feel best addresses the problem — and create a storyboard of the experience you want to create. Again, each person should participate in this exercise using the crazy eights they created.

Wednesday: Decide

Have your team do a silent art critique where they select the best solution out of the bunch. This is your proposed solution and will be what you prototype.

Thursday: Prototyping

Prototyping lets you map out your solution to ensure you’re thinking of all the steps needed. You can create prototypes quickly using sketches — these are called low fidelity sketches — and once you agree that your solution has been planned out, you can then create realistic high fidelity sketches that can be tested with users and stakeholders.

Low Fidelity Sketches

Low fidelity sketches are a quick way to plan out what needs to be prototyped in the high fidelity sketches

High Fidelity Solutions

Assign your team roles — you’ll need an asset collector (to get real images to be used in the prototype), a copywriter, a maker, a stitcher and an interviewer. You will all work to build the real working prototype. The maker will use Keynote, PowerPoint, Google Slides or any similar tool they’re comfortable with to create an experience that looks real, and the stitcher will link slides or hotspots together so that you can click through the presentation like it’s a real site. Walk through the final prototype as a team to make sure it makes sense and is ready for real user testing.

We made our high fidelity sketches in Keynote — you can use Google Slides or PowerPoint or whatever you can work in quickly. Advanced prototyping can be done in Sketch or Balsamiq.

Friday: Test!

It’s now Friday, you’ve got a working prototype. Yey! But now you have to show it to real people and get real feedback. Start by creating your interview guide — this will help keep your real user’s feedback on track with what you want to find out. You’ll want to write out questions you want answered, and set up the interview with an introduction that lets the person know they will be recorded and their feedback will be shared with the company anonymously (or whatever parameters you have set).

Set up a quiet area where you can have a real user sit and use your “website.” You can use Zoom to record their face and the screen at the same time, or set up a screen recorder and run the interview using Google Hangouts. The rest of your team should be in another room, and your interviewer will greet the interviewee and guide them through the experience, asking them to be vocal about what they see and experience during the review. Definitely spend time setting all of this up ahead of time and practice using your setup before the interviewee arrives!

The people listening should be writing notes on things that stand out during the review — we used green post-it notes to symbolize positive remarks, orange for neutral remarks, and pink for things the user didn’t like or didn’t understand about our prototype.

We then took everyone’s notes and put them up on a wall to get them sort of organized into this giant mess:

We then grouped the common comments by putting similar post-it notes on top of each other to clean up the gigantic mess and help the real issues stand out. From here, we determined that our working prototype needed a little (ok, a lot) more work in order to finalize it for the client’s review.

The problem solving process we followed for this sprint really worked — we still had work to do at the end to clean things up, but what I liked about this exercise was the way everyone was heard when submitting their ideas — the loudest or most well spoken individual didn’t always win, and we used real customer data to drive our decisions.

The Sprint Book has a lot more detail on each process involved in the steps described above. I think you’ll find that it is really an easy plan to follow once you practice a few times. It worked a lot better than anything I’ve run in the real world, and I’ll definitely be incorporating these steps into my current process moving forward!

Originally published at on October 5, 2017.


Ironhack is a global tech school with campuses in Miami…


Ironhack is a global tech school with campuses in Miami, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Mexico City & Sao Paulo. We offer courses in Web Development, UX/UI Design and Data Analytics. With more than 3000 graduates and an extensive global network and partner companies

Kat Alderman

Written by

15+ years of experience in ecommerce + UX and Web Design + Development. Interests include travel, photography, yoga, scuba/freediving and Bruce Campbell.


Ironhack is a global tech school with campuses in Miami, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Mexico City & Sao Paulo. We offer courses in Web Development, UX/UI Design and Data Analytics. With more than 3000 graduates and an extensive global network and partner companies