Ben Tuckwell

Senior Interaction Designer

I love a bit of rapid prototyping and so do our clients

2 mins read

Last week started with a bang for me and Luiza, one of our UX Consultants, as we got stuck into three days of prototyping and testing. This speedy way of working is like the ‘business-end’ of a Design Sprint, the highly structured, four to five day rapid process to build and test product prototypes, but it’s even faster.

To kick things off, we set up a sketching session with our London-based client to find solutions to the issues identified by Luiza in user testing, the previous week. After presenting the test findings and prioritising the areas to focus on, it was time to get down to sketching

Our sketching sessions are fast and loose, we’re trying to get ideas out, not produce works of art. Not everyone’s a ‘Van Gogh’, but everyone CAN sketch. We use Crazy 8s. We hand out pieces of A3 paper and ask everyone to fold it in half three times. We’ll all then quickly sketch an idea in each section of the paper. These sketching sessions are intense, normally lasting about 10 minutes, you can’t over-think anything or produce unnecessarily detailed sketches.

We end up with a wide range of sketched solutions to can discuss as a group. Importantly, everyone’s had a chance to get their ideas out. Then we use unlimited dot voting to help surface the most best ideas, there’s nothing quite as liberating as unlimited dotting. Finally, we discuss the concepts to dig deeper into the ideas and agree on how to move forward. In just a couple of hours we’d achieved what might have otherwise taken weeks over emails and phone calls.

Everyone responds well to these sketching sessions. It’s easier to articulate ideas through sketches than verbally. And, it’s easier for others to understand what you’re talking about. It ties in with a core principle of the design sprint: whenever there are discussions about an idea we should have something tangible to refer to like a sketch or a map!

Luiza and I left the session with a stack of sketches and a clear idea about what we were going to prototype the following day. The client felt consulted, excited to see the prototype and invested in the work we had done together.

The following day we did final sketches as in the storyboarding process in the sprint - this is often better with a few key individuals rather than the whole sprint group - and then cracked on with turning these low-fi sketches into a more refined prototype.

I normally work with Sketch and Invision, with these tools I can work quickly and connect designs together into a clickable prototype that we can user test. With just one day to prototype something, you really stay focussed on the task in hand. You create what is necessary to test the idea and nothing more. So, by the end of day two I was able to hand off my finished prototype for Luiza to test with users on Wednesday. And we weren’t even half way through the week!

If you’d like to find out about how a Design Sprint or rapid prototyping process could work for your organisation, please contact Will.