Solo Design Sprint
A GV (Google Ventures) design sprint is a 5-day process that aims to answer business questions directly with their users. Typically a sprint team will consist of around seven people or less, but for this project provided through Springboard I was given the task of going through a modified version of the sprint by myself.
There were several design prompts offered through BiteSize for me to choose from for my solo sprint. The one that caught my attention was SAVR Recipes, a new startup that wants to make it easier for people to follow new recipes and cook great meals at home. The reason I chose this design challenge over others was because of how saturated and broad the market was. I think everyone can relate to cooking a meal at some point in their life and the frustrations that come along with it. With so many recipe apps that are already on the market, I knew whatever I created in the next 5 days would have to go up against some steep competition.
Day 1: Map
After going through the SAVR design prompt on the first day it was immediately time to start brainstorming. I was provided with multiple problems that users faced while currently using the app. All of them lead to users ultimately feeling frustrated and confused when it came time to actually start cooking. Our challenge is to make following recipes as stress free as possible.
• Currently, recipes are written as text, in ordered steps from start to finish
• Solution should be designed as a feature for the SAVR recipes mobile app
• Users didn’t enjoy having to constantly go back to their phones while they were in the middle of cooking a recipe
• Felt lost while cooking halfway through a recipe because they’ve only seen a finished product and nothing else
• Frustrations when steps are sprung on them suddenly, especially when they could have prepared for it in advance
• Understanding certain cooking techniques and not feeling lost when unfamiliar with a term
Once I was done reading through all the user issues it was time to familiarize myself with the persona I would be designing for.
• Nick cooks about three nights a week - usually for himself, but sometimes for he and his girlfriend
• Most of the time he enjoys cooking and trying new recipes. He thinks following a recipe is the best way to learn some of the most basic cooking techniques
• Nick likes tweaking or improving certain recipes, but he doesn’t feel comfortable improvising until he has cooked it “by the book” once
• Sometimes Nick is unsure if he is on the right track halfway through preparing a meal
• Nick isn’t always clear on what’s next and how he can prep a few steps ahead. This often leads to mistakes, or a lot of time wasted
• If a dish doesn’t come out as expected he doesn’t know where he went wrong, and he feels disappointed in the meal, and that he didn’t really learn anything for next time
• Nick gets stressed out trying to refer back to his phone every time a new technique or step is introduced
• Follow a recipe easily and confidently, so his dish comes out as expected
• Nick wants trying new recipes to be enjoyable and challenging - not stressful and chaotic
After familiarizing myself with Nick it was time for me to map out what his user journey would look like when using SAVR. From there I would start to develop some "How Might We..." statements to generate some ideas in specific sections within his journey.
Day 2: Sketch
With my mapping completed it was time to explore and see what other existing competitor apps currently exist and how they’re tackling any similar problems. The three apps I explored and analyzed were Panna, Project Foodie and Tasty. I chose these three apps because of their positive ratings and popularity in the iOS app store. With each app there was a lot to discover and certain aspects within each one that I came to like about them.
• The most informative of the three recipe apps
• Nice bold UI made it easy to know which step users were on
• Video would be continuous which made it hard to follow along if users couldn't keep up with the pace of the chef
• Easy to follow instructions
• Highlighted ingredients within the typography making it easy to know what was needed during each step
• Had to continuously scroll down to read instructions when following along which ultimately caused a lot of distraction
• Implemented a useful "step-by-step" feature which made for a more focused approach when creating a meal
• Felt a little tedious like there were a lot of steps because of how simple each step was written
• Ingredients were displayed in a constant looping video and would fade away too fast
With most of the research done and freshly in my mind it was immediately time to start sketching some ideas out. I began with an exercise know as the Crazy 8’s, where you take a timer and set it for 8 minutes and begin to sketch out a single idea per minute. From there I would select my favorite idea and map out a three step solution of what the screens might look like.
Day 3: Decide
Due to time constraints and being a solo operated design sprint there wasn’t a lot of flexibility of designs to choose from. Knowing that I had to get a product out within the next two days for testing had to force me to make quick decisions. Feeling confident with my sketches and ideation from the previous day, I made some minor adjustments and begin creating a storyboard of the screens and flow that I would be using as a reference for when I begin to build my prototype.
Day 4: Prototype
Using my storyboard as a guide I began to recreate the screens in Sketch. The idea was to create the prototype to be as realistic as possible without worrying too much about it being pixel perfect. The goal being that I’m designing to test and validate my ideas about the features more so than the visual aspect of the app. However, as far as the visual elements go I went ahead and stuck with the existing color theme of the SAVR app that was given to me throughout various documentation.
When creating the prototype I decided to implement the best features from the previous three apps that I analyzed.
• Utilizing "step-by-step" feature as a follow along guide (Tasty)
• Make instructions easy to read and draw attention to important information such as the ingredients (Project Foodie)
• Incorporate bold UI elements to keep users aware of where they are in the process of making the meal of their choosing (Panna)
Day 5: Test
Now that the prototype had been completed it was time for some user testing. My testing consisted of five users who have recently cooked a new recipe within the past month. They were each given the simple task of how they would go about creating a meal for breakfast using the SAVR app. Since the prototype was mainly going to be focused on the success of the step-by-step portion it was important to analyze and ask users what they thought about each screen as they made their journey there. This allowed me to get users to feel comfortable to me asking questions without raising any suspicion on what exactly I was testing for. Below is a list of some of the most heard findings when given the test:
• Having images for the recipes and tools list
• Short repetitive visualizations of cooking steps during actual "step-by-step" process
• Easy to read/clear instructions while making a meal
• Confusion over tick boxes next to ingredients and tools and whether they were selected for the shopping list
• Recipe list seems overwhelming prior to starting the "step-by-step" process
• Timer function causes a lot of stress on users as they feel rushed when cooking a meal
• Users felt that the title of upcoming steps wasn't enough information to know what to do next, causing them to feel unprepared
With the tests completed and some consistent findings that stood out, the sprint was starting to feel like a success. Ultimately the results lead me to a path on how I can improve SAVR if given a second run at it. Thinking ahead into the future I would go about making the following changes...
• Fixing the UI for the ingredients and tools list to better communicate whether an item is selected to be added into the shopping list
• Redesigning or replacing the timer functionality so that it helps users instead of causing unwanted pressure
• Help users prepare for upcoming steps in a recipe by giving out small preparation instructions during certain steps
What I Learned
After the completion of the SAVR user testing it definitely opened up some great areas for growth if this were to be taken to the next phase. Running my first modified GV design sprint was an experience that gave me a lot of insights as to how to operate in an efficient manner. Even though there were times I felt that having a team of other people around would have eased the process, it was still a valuable experience to have and showcase why validating ideas and theories is so important early in the design process. Not only does it give you a real working prototype that has been user tested, but it also saves an incredible amount of time and money from a business perspective.
If I was ever given the opportunity to restart the sprint process knowing the information I know now then there would be a couple things I would do differently.
1. Not spend so much time prototyping the product and utilize that spare time for testing preparation.
2. Research not only competitors, but other applications that might utilize features you want built into the product.
3. Record users direct interactions with the product instead of documenting their answers and my own personal observations.