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Remote is the new normal
The Covid-19 virus impacts all industries, and it generates lots of challenges opportunities for organizations. At Hike One we experienced a boost in remote work like never before, with our design work, classes, meetups and design sprints suddenly shifting to remote formats.
In this article we share with you our insights on doing remote Design Sprints, focusing on what tools you can use plus some added tips and tricks from our team. Overall, we feel the value of a remote Design Sprint is very similar to a normal Design Sprint, but only if you prepare your sprints thoroughly and pick the right tools.
About the client & the challenge
In this sprint we were looking to design the dashboard of the future, a Northstar to work towards in the next years of design and development.
So how to run a remote Design Sprint?
To anyone who ever facilitated one, this won’t be new: the success of the sprint depends largely on your preparations. Team composition, involving stakeholders and deciding on the right challenge are central in any design sprint preparation. We won’t discuss these in detail now, you can read about it here.
In a remote Design Sprints additional preparations include setting up your tools and communication channels. Let’s zoom in on these next.
Miro is an incredibly versatile whiteboard tool, the centerpiece of our remote Design Sprints. This is where we work as a team, set our challenges, map our scope, vote, timebox, present and even sketch. At Hike One we use a template for the entire week, which looks exactly like what you would draw out on a whiteboard in the office. The big advantage here is that everyone has an overview of what the entire week will look like. And you never run out of whiteboard.
Currently Figma is definitely our go-to prototyping tool for Design Sprints. It especially shines when doing a Design Sprint remotely. After building the scaffolding of the prototype, our Interaction Designer worked on the content with the client, and the Visual Designer followed in their wake to make everything look 10 times better. That way prototyping becomes a collaborative group effort, instead of designers going off doing their thing in complicated design tools away from the team.
We initially used Miro’s in app video calls, but soon found out these were not stable enough to run full days. We quickly decided to use our customer’s communication tools, in this case Gotomeeting, to make sure things ran smoothly for them. Their familiarity with it meant we didn’t lose time getting used to new tools. Do make sure you get familiar with the tool yourself though, since you’ll need to host the meetings.
It is crucial for the facilitator to have all participants use their webcams, to be able to sense the mood of team members. Design Sprints are never discussion driven - but when deciding on sprint questions for example it really helps if the facilitator actively includes all team members, summarizes and pushes to keep moving forward.
Remote interviews: Lookback
Our preferred remote interview tool is Lookback. It provides three much needed roles: interviewer, interviewee, and observers. It records the sessions automatically, which is very convenient, and all observers can follow the interviews live and send messages to the interviewer. One big drawback; it only works on Chrome and interviewees need to install a browser extension (though they do not need an account).
Good preparation of the interview tools is essential, since you’ll be answering your sprint questions using these. Therefore do a 5 minute trial run with all the participants beforehand. You’ll thank yourself in the end.
Ready, set, go!
Remote Design Sprints work well and are as effective as regular Design Sprints, assuming the facilitator is thoroughly prepared. With a Miro board, communication tools set up and a variety of check-ins and energisers prepared, you are ready to go!