The UX Sprint

Johannes HollThorsten Moser

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, like lean startup, design thinking, design sprints, scrum and 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 Product Onwer/Manager

The 2nd week

Rework and refine designs & shipping results
Remote layout/UX work with deticated feedback sessions.

Preparation workshop

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

1st week: The sprint starts

Monday of W1

Define the stories to focus on.

Attending: Product Owner (Client), UX/UI Designers
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

Attending: Product Owner (Client), UX/UI Designers
The user flow sessions are one of the most powerful and time saving sessions. 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.

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday of W1

Prototype UX/UI Design

Attending: UX/UI Designers
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

Attending: Product Owner, UX/UI Designers
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

Attending: UX/UI Designers
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.

Friday of W1

Testing designs with real users

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.

2nd Week: Over the hump

Monday of W2

Implement the insights from the user testing.

Attending: UX/UI Designers
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.

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday of W2

Refine and design UX / UI

Attending: UX/UI Designers
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

Attending: 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.

Friday of W2

Work on design system

Attending: 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

Attending: UX/UI Designer, IT / Engineers / Developers
At Boana, we tend to user 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”.

What are your experiences?

I would love to get your perspective and maybe even experiences with sprinting design. Feel free to drop us a line.