The Design Relay

The Design Relay is the time for lofty thinking and creative exploration. It is our tool for innovation, big thinking, and concept development.

Day 1 – Opportunities

Synthesis presentation

We start the Relay by going over the research gathered from the previous user study in the form of a Synthesis Map and Synthesis Summary. We then discuss what worked, what did not, and why we think that happened.

Problems

Based on this new knowledge, we reevaluate which problems are now most important to solve. We analyse the problem board and modify it by adding newly discovered issues and readjusting or removing current items. We also add or change the measurement criterion for gauging solutions to these problems.

Opportunities

Based on the new problem set, the team votes to select two to three problems to address in this Relay.

Inspiration

We loosely know what we must prototype, so now we need to determine what the prototype should feel like. This exercise searches for solutions that address the selected opportunities for this Relay, which may include screenshots, paper sketches or links.

Day 2 – Ideas

Ideas

The first step is for everyone to brainstorm for 20 minutes on the selected items privately. Team members jot down rough ideas and circle the most promising ones.

Crazy 8s

Crazy 8s is an exercise for ideating rapidly without worrying too much about the quality of the ideas. Everyone folds a sheet of paper into 8 frames and comes up with 8 solutions in 8 minutes for one of the promising ideas. We repeat this exercise for all the chosen ideas, limiting it to a maximum of 4 rounds.

Solutions

For the next hour, team members focus on their best ideas and create a complete solution for all the identified problems.

Heat map

We put everyone’s solution sketch on the wall and spend a few minutes looking at each one. Team members vote by putting five to seven stickers next to their preferred ideas, creating a heat map of the team’s favourites.

Speed critique

Next, everyone explains their votes and raises any objections. After a round robin of discussion, the designers of the top-voted ideas provide additional information and address any misunderstandings.

Vote

Team members cast one or two votes for the ideas that they want to include in the prototype.

Cluster and Resolve

If the final votes are for similar ideas, we cluster them together. If the top solutions are conflicting ones, the decider chooses the one they feel strongly about.

Day 3: Map

Storyboard

In this step, we take the winning ideas and combine them into a storyboard. We divide a whiteboard into 16 to 20 frames, and in the first frame, we draw the opening scene of how the user discovers the product. We continue drawing, one frame at a time, until we reach the end of the selected part of the user’s journey.

Product Map

After a storyboard is created, we take it and flesh out the actual product map that will serve this storyboard. Imagine a map of interconnected screens drawn on a whiteboard.

Interview Script

We write a script that supports everything we want to test and confirm that the product map covers it well. We write a script for the user study to eliminate the risk of asking the user leading questions instead of hearing an unbiased opinion.

Day 4 to 7: Mockups

High-fidelity mockups

In this step, we take the sketch and interview script and start building the high-fidelity, real-looking screens. We want to build a prototype that is as realistic as possible so that users provide us with as much feedback as possible.

Prototype

Now, we stitch all the screens together and add real data and animations. We build a prototype that looks and feels like an actual product.

Dry Run

Before conducting the actual user study, we complete a dry run. The interviewer does a mock test with a team member using the interview script and the prototype.

Improve

We have a final opportunity to tweak and improve any glitches discovered during the dry run.

Day 8: Test

Setup

For the user study, we use two rooms – one for the interaction and another for the team to watch a live stream of the event. We record the screen and audio for synthesis later.

User Study

The interviewer introduces the prototype and encourages the user to think out loud during the process. After asking the user to complete a series of tasks, the interviewer carefully observes the points of friction. The user study ends with a quick debrief and an opportunity to express any final thoughts about the prototype.

Live Synthesis

In the observation room, we divide a whiteboard or wall into sections representing the stages we are interested in. We assign a different coloured post-it note to each user. As the user moves through the prototype, people write down their observations and place them under the correct stage.

Days 9 to 10 – Synthesize

Synthesis Review

After completing all the user studies, we analyse them in excruciating detail by listening to what users said and noting when they seemed to struggle. After documenting quotes from users and what we observed, we turn this information into insights.

Synthesis Map

Using techniques like affinity mapping, we group observations and insights into a meaningful story. We include detailed information on how users interacted with the prototype, providing valuable insight for honing the solution to solve customers’ problems.

Synthesis Summary

This single-page document summarises three things from the synthesis map:

  1. What worked well – identifies nearly complete areas

  2. What worked reasonably well – points out areas that need additional refinement

  3. What did not work well – describes areas that need more design

After the Relay

We repeat the Relay step until we have an overall solution that addresses your customers’ pain points.

We then move to Product Design where we ensure every business vertical of your organisation understands their role in delivering this new customer experience and help them gear up for it. To ensure complete clarity, we work out detailed timelines and provide visibility into the prioritized user stories.

Lastly, we begin delivering well detailed, all-inclusive design screens so that the engineering teams can begin development immediately.