Relays begin after the Design Sprint, which created the high-level solution. We use three to four Relays to map out the product, delving deeper and deeper into more detail with each iteration.
Each new Relay starts by identifying a critical business problem and ends with putting a real-world prototype in front of actual customers, allowing us to validate the solution.
By including Relays in the design process, we ensure multiple touch points with users to adequately address their pain points with your product or service, ensuring an excellent experience for your customers.
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.
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.
Based on the new problem set, the team votes to select two to three problems to address in this Relay.
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.
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 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.
For the next hour, team members focus on their best ideas and create a complete solution for all the identified problems.
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.
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.
Team members cast one or two votes for the ideas that they want to include in the prototype.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We have a final opportunity to tweak and improve any glitches discovered during the dry run.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This single-page document summarises three things from the synthesis map:
What worked well – identifies nearly complete areas
What worked reasonably well – points out areas that need additional refinement
What did not work well – describes areas that need more design