Within this project, we faced and investigated arguably one of the (bigger) yet more silent problems in modern society around the world: the impending feeling of loneliness among citizens of big cities.
Our goal was to ideate ways to ease this sentiment and therefore create UX solutions to help and fight this sorrowful situation.
The Design sprint methodology is framed to shortcut the endless-debate cycle in process, compressing months into a few days, ideally, the whole process within a week. We adapted it a little so we can make some previous research in the beginning and test the prototype for some days at the end, without a time restriction so narrowed.
So in less than two weeks we had to present our proposals, designed, prototyped and tested with customers.
Thanks to this process, you won’t get to launch any minimal product to understand if the idea is any good, you’ll get clear data from a realistic prototype, tested by potential users and prior to making any expensive commitment.
Somehow, loneliness was the key concept to this project because, due to the pandemic, we had to face this project in a newly assembled team remotely.
It is noteworthy that we faced one eventual yet global situation without previous knowledge of our companions and that we must work from home. Chances of success?
Jake Knapp himself, the creator of Design Sprint, stated in 2017 that the methodology wasn’t ideally prepared to work perfectly in remote. It was possible, but not ideal.
Well, that was some years ago, tools have moved forward and now and the situation demanded us the try. Perhaps things could have changed a little and fit better now with Design Sprint?
The team started as 8 members working and researching together, then split up working in two different solutions and then again every member work prototipes for his/her personal vision, as well as the test for that prototype.
Tools: Miro – Figma – Zoom – Whereby – Trello – Whimsical – Pasteapp – Maze – Invision …
As a working method, Design sprint admits a certain grade of ductility.
We expanded the initial point by spending a couple of days researching and learning about loneliness. Solid and interesting information was found and helped us not to fall into prejudices or biased opinions.
Information about this global issue, aspects and particularities of how it develops in big cities proved most useful for the further journey.
We were also lucky enough to have the chance to interview two different expert psychologists along the process, that gave us succulent additional information and solved some of our questions about this complaint.
After research, we set out some sprint questions, prepared several proto-customer journeys and elaborate and selected the resulting HMW (How Might We).
We selected two HMW questions that found most interesting and turned them into proposals:
- Fight against loneliness through IA
- Fight against loneliness through the company of animals
That was the time to bifurcate into two teams, one for each option.
I fell into the «Fight against loneliness through the company of animals» group (admitedly, I would have enjoyed both courses, since I suggested ‘em, but it is hard for me to stay appart from something related with animals… so it was perfect for me).
The next day we came with some pretty interesting proposals.
After individual presentations of each idea, through dotmocracy we voted for creating an app to put in contact owners of dogs with people that would like to take their pets out and being in their company for a couple of hours or short periods, in the though that the canine company would alley the feeling of loneliness without entail the responsibility of having one full-time dog companion.
Begining with the definition stage we draw storyboards to show the process for a proto-costumer journey.
And after that, some lightning demos.
After some quick sketches, it was time for high res.
Although the design was meant to be temporary, I employed some time in shaping up a logo and a beginning for an eventual visual identity.
Right after that, I began to create the basic screens and display, developing the interaction.
One important thing was that, with our mind set in the test, we had two different kind of user: the dog owners and the users who wanted to meet their dogs.
Therefore, we must design screens to display two courses.
The preparation for the test was meticulous.
The two courses of action, dog owners and dog-walkers, had to be tested in order to achieve qualitative information.
Most questions, obviously, had to be different for the two kind of users.
Mace was a perfect tool for this.
We get over most disadvantages of remote work just by using both Maze and telephone calls, to accompany the users through the whole test.
The outcome, showed very a intuitive use of the prototype and an almost perfect utilization at first try from most of the users.
The rate of approval for the visual layer was also very high.
But doubtlessly the essential info came with user impressions about the concept itself and its possibilities.
Conversations were riddled with keys to obtain the desired insights.
Summarized, some interesting ideas came out of those chats, but also they validate two thesis that have been haunting me since the moment that dotmocracy bolster this solution and I would like to stress them:
- Most of the dog-owners won’t feel right leaving their beloved friends with a stranger if they have meet only by the internet.
- Dogs don’t usally accept so easily and happily to go with unknown humans.
Nevertheless, the testers were all quite interested in the idea and its possibilities. With the concept pertinently iterated, seems like it could end up working spectacularly well, connecting people with particular needs and helping both dog-owners and people who would like to have some company.
The decision of using Design sprint for starting a project with a new team proved to be quite interesting and effective.
We didn’t find any particular flaw by working with it remotely. Possibly, things have changed (for better?) since Jake Knapp eveluated it otherwise.
Also, the methodology needs some dose of «faith» and due there’s not a step in where point out the flaws of the ideas before chosing one, we can drag some problems hard to solve conceptually.
Nevertheless, we shouldn’t omit that Design sprint purpose is to spend little time and resources in validating ideas. This is achieved perfectly.
Present some issues that must be get rid off before keeping on with everykind of developing. But we must also stress the enthusiastic acceptance of the idea.
Something really promissing could come out from this.