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5 Days, 6 Usability Tests, and 1 Great Solution

The Optimove Product Team faced a looming, complex issue. So, they dropped everything for a week, collaborated with clients and other internal teams, and came out with an innovative solution that would otherwise take weeks to achieve. It’s called a Design Sprint, and the result? An even better product, and stronger relationships with a few strategic clients. A double whammy

You can’t sprint a marathon, they say. Challenge accepted; we say. Introducing: The Design Sprint.

According to Wikipedia, “A design sprint is a time-constrained, five-phase process that uses design thinking with the aim of reducing the risk when bringing a new product, service or a feature to the market. It has been developed by Jake Knapp at GV (formerly, Google Ventures). Two books have been published on the approach so far — one by Jake Knapp with co-authors John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz and another by C. Todd Lombardo, Richard Banfield, and Trace Wax.”

In other words, it’s kind of a Product team’s Hackathon.

We collaborated with several handpicked internal stakeholders from R&D, Customer Success, and Marketing, along with selected few strategic clients, to compress weeks’ worth of work into 5 (and a half) days. And we mean, longggg days.

The idea was to dedicate a concentrated effort to solve a complex issue that’s been looming over our heads. More specifically, to come up with a concept for the next generation of campaign dashboards. And, the result? A cutting-edge concept for a new design to be implemented on our platform.

Here were just some of our rules: No phones! Short breaks! Light lunches! No whispering! All in good faith, of course.

Want a little more detail? Here’s the insider look.

Day #1 – Defining the Challenge

This is no easy task – but it’s a MUST in order for the design sprint to succeed: The issue at hand must first be defined in the most exact way possible. And with many ideas and opinions around the room, you can imagine the nature of the first couple of hours.

For the sake of super-efficiency – we chose a “facilitator” (Dr. Gil Hupert-Graff, Founder and CEO of ui.co.il) and a “decider” (our CEO). The facilitator kept the conversation on course and made sure we stick to the schedule. The decider, well, you can guess…

Eventually, we were able to agree that, as strategic marketing approaches evolve and the capabilities of our platform expand, it was time for a Campaign Dashboard facelift. The calendar-based approach worked amazingly well for our clients over the past few years, but as we are introducing new concepts, like the self-optimizing journeys, and accumulating lessons-learned from our clients, we realized it’s time for the next generation.

Day #2 – Taking (Sticky) Notes

After sleeping on the issue as it has been precisely defined in the first day, we all had to came to Day 2 with numerous ideas for solutions. This was yet another creativity-extracting exercise.

Before long, the glass walls were covered with sticky notes. That was the main day for discussions and decisions.

The conclusion of a long, excruciating day was a concept defined well enough for our UX team to build a prototype.

Days #3 + #4 – Designing the Concept

Our vision was to create a dashboard where clients can monitor and control what’s going on in their campaigns, quickly and easily, across multiple dimensions of campaign activities. We knew that it would be most effective to visually express what everyone’s general idea was. These couple of days turned out to be exhausting but extremely valuable.

Considering the design sprint was so action-packed with great ideas, it actually gave some of our UX designers the ability to turn the perhaps vaguer concepts into something visual. Even in such a short time frame, they were able to incorporate some of their own ideas “on the fly.”

Once the opportunity mapping and concept ideation were complete, the high-level concept was turned into an interactive prototype that the users could play with.

Day # 5 – Usability Tests

The fifth day of the sprint began by introducing the prototype to 6 different users – allowing them to interact with the design, evaluate the product, and give direct input on how they feel about it. We wanted to interfere as little as possible in order to confirm that the interface was truly clear and intuitive.

Each participant focused on answering questions about the product that they thought were more important than others and then offered solutions. Along the day, we were able to incorporate some of the feedback in real time into the prototype, so the following users don’t encounter the same issues, and allow them to provide us further and deeper feedback. This really pushed the envelope when it came to act quickly and precisely.

We know that our users’ workflows, their interaction with the software, and their behavior are all best exposed when they come out of the ordinary and familiar. So we invited 6 power-users of strategic clients to jump on a video call and walk through it.

“As the conversation progressed, it became easier, and I was able to think more practically.” Said Gal Nissani, the Conversion Optimization Director at Outbrain, and the first user to take the Usability Test (she passed it in flying colors).

“All and all, I had a great experience, and it was even fun! I’m passionate about UX, and it was interesting for me, both as a professional and as a customer, to take part in the design process,” she concluded.

One of the biggest benefits about direct communication with our customers is that they are the actual people using the end-product, further validating their input. In addition, other recommendations and features that we should consider regardless of this specific project, were also suggested.

Overall, these usability tests provided us with the approval that we needed, while surfacing important feedback on various aspects of the concept and design.

Day #5.5 – The Mission Control

After much thought and planning, we received the feedback that we needed. So, we finalized the concept, and it will soon be incorporated into our regular dev plan, eventually to be implemented by our R&D team. A process that could take weeks, was boiled down to a few days.

We call it “The Mission Control.” Want to see how it looks? Well, you’ll have to wait just a tiny bit longer. In the meantime, we’re going to grab a glass of water.

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    Gil Hupert-Graff

    Thank you Shai Frank for inviting me to facilitate this design sprint. Due to the complexity of the system in general and the complexity of the problem we focused on, it was one of the most challenging sprints I had. I am very satisfied with the result we had. I think it will serve you and light your roadmap for at least one year. I this the core reasons for the success are:
    1. You brought a great team to the sprint. A bit too big, but very smart and talented and presenting many important aspects in Optimove: PMs, UX, Dev, Architects, Marketing, Customer Success and of course Pini the CEO.
    2. The participation of the clients – I know how difficult it is to coordinate strategic clients to our tight and almost inflexible sprint schedule. You did a fantastic job by scheduling them to the correct time slots and even more important, with a small overbooking, but not too big.
    3. and most important, the outstanding sync and cooperation between you, the VP Product and Pini the CEO was the key success factor.

    I had a great and fruitful experience. Thank you

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