Macbook and iPhone screens showing a prototype created in a Design Sprint

The right information
at the right moment

Remote Design Sprint for one of the biggest education publishers in The Netherlands.

Malmberg creates and publishes learning methods, both digitally and on paper for Primary, Secondary and Vocational education in The Netherlands. They see education as the most important basis of our future. Every learning method has its own page that must help visitors understand, experience and ultimately buy a licence. It therefore has a critical role in the sales funnel of Malmberg.

Unfortunately, throughout the years, this page had several different templates and formats with a choatic collection of content items. Visitors simply got lost.

The Challenge – The ultimate learning method proposition page

How might we develop a new learning method proposition page that can give visitors the right information at the right time? And how might we synchronize this information to the specific phase in the customer journey generating more leads and thus more turnover?

Remote Design Sprint

When I discussed this Design Sprint with Malmberg, it was clear that the Design Sprint was the way to go with this challenge. There were a lot of stakeholders involved from multiple departments and it was a challenge that hasn’t been solved for more than a year. They wanted a solution fast.

I chose a Remote version of the Design Sprint because of the physical limitations present at that time.

Remote Design Sprint for the Learning Method page

Project information

  • A total of just 4 weeks
  • It should be usable for all learning methods in Primary, Secondary and Vocational education

The Sprint Team:

  • Deciders (Product Owner)
  • 3 Marketers
  • Brand Expert
  • Sales Manager
  • Account Manager
  • Campagne Specialist
  • Content Specialist (external)

 

Malmberg, one of the biggest publishers in education

Malmberg published learning methods, both digitally and in print, for Primary, Secondary, and Vocational education. Their mission is to support teachers in being the best guides for their students. Malmberg develops their own online learning platforms as part of blended learning.

A Remote Design Sprint for Malmberg

Week 1: Sprint planning and the first Workshop

The Design Sprint that I do, uses three Workshops of 3 hours each, to align, ideate and build a concept for a prototype. I stick to those three hours in a remote sprint as the Sprint Team can hardly focus on the activities after that amount of time.

Additionally, I planned the user test slots, the final sprint call with the Decider and the check-in moments for the team to check the progress when I start building the prototype.

Sprint preparation

The most important part of the Design Sprint, as I found in previous experiences, is the preparation part. To prepare for a good design Sprint, I interviewed the Decider and all participants. They provided information I used to prepare exercises. I got to know everything they knew and didn’t know about the problem space, and we identified stakeholders that weren’t mentioned before. Users at this short time were not available so we decided to proceed with some assumptions.

Just as I do in my Sprint Workshops, I gathered all information on Miro.

Post-its that show participants answers to interview questions

Workshop 1: The Alignment Workshop

Workshop 1 was all about getting aligned on our problem, the focus of the Sprint, the goal and the critical questions we needed answers to.

The Map

We created The Map first, showing users, their pain points and the steps they currently take to get to their goal. This exercise also helps to visualize the problem space as an aid in possible discussions.

Showing the user and the steps the user takes to get to his goal
Expert interviews

Because the Sprint Team didn’t know everything that stakeholders knew, we interviewed them during the first Workshop. The Sprint Team then wrote down How Might We questions based on their answers showing us the biggest issues and challenges within our problem space.

By using dot voting, we identified the key challenges and placed them on The Map to get our focus area.

Expert Interviews Worksheets
Showing the users journey and the focus area for the Design Sprint
2 Year Goal and Sprint Questions

Now it was up to the Sprint Team to decide on their 2 Year Goal. In an ideal world, where would they be with this challenge?

An ideal world doesn’t exist, however. We therefore needed to identify the critical questions that we needed to answer. Questions the users would ideally say ‘yes’ to during the user test.

The activities were done anonymously, using dot voting to democratically move forward with the best output.

The 2 year goal and sprint questions with the most votes on a post-it

Our 2 Year Goal:

In 2 Years from now, every visitor gets presented with relevant content no matter the point of entry on the website. 

 

Our Sprint Questions:

1. Can we validate that the target group can find relevant and personalised information relatively fast? YES

2. Can we validate that the visitor is triggered to take action and go to the next fase of the customer journey with us? YES

3. Can we validate that the visitor can find the right information in the right phase of the customer journey? Mostly YES (4 out of 6)

Workshop 2: The Ideation Workshop

In this Workshop we would be building our concept solutions, so we needed some inspiration. I find that Lightning Demos are the perfect activity for this.

Lightning Demos

In 20 minutes, the team gathered examples of other businesses, websites and products that solved similar challenges. After voting on the best bits of those demo’s we started thinking about the solutions.

Examples of other companies solving a similar challenge
Notetaking, Doodling and Sketching

To make sure the Sprint Team is comfortable with sketching and crafting their concept, the Design Sprint lets you build up to that moment by getting acquainted with generating ideas under pressure in three steps:

  1. Every participant takes notes of what they think is important or interesting from all the previous exercises.
  2. Then they start doodling, creating simple shapes that are (related to) possible solutions.
  3. Then they get 8 minutes to draw 8 solutions in an exercise called ‘Crazy Eights’.

These 3 exercises are anonymous and the results are not shared with the other team members. Its purpose is to get people in an idea generation mindset fast. 

Concept Solutions

Now it was time for our concept solutions! Every participant was allowed to turn off their cameras and microphones and create their version of the solution in 45 minutes using pen, paper, masking tape and post-its.

When they were done, they sent the solutions to me so that I could anonymously put them back on the Miro board.

Possible solutions to the challenge drawn by hand

Workshop 3: The Decision Workshop

In the third Workshop, we choose the best bits from the concept solutions to base our prototype on.

Choosing the best concepts

Just as with the Lightning Demos, the concepts we presented to the team, and they then voted on what they thought was interesting or important enough to include in the prototype.

We ended up with 3 concepts voted the best ones.

User flow and Storyboard

To build a prototype, we started with creating a high over user flow (6 steps). The team members created their own flows and we then voted on the best one to move forward with.

    Post-its showing a user test flow with a post-it for every step

    Based on this flow, we built a storyboard showing the screens the user would go through and the most important elements that were needed in those screens. Think of buttons, copy, images, but also interactions, scenario descriptions, everything I needed to build a prototype the next day without having questions.

    Storyboard showing snippets and screenshots that would make up the screens of the prototype

    In a physical version of this exercise I would be drawing the storyboard myself. Remotely, we build on previous workshop material and try to fill in the screens as much as possible with what we already have. It saves a lot of time.

    The Prototype

    I built the prototype using Figma, by far my favorite tool as it allows me to have everything in a cloud environment and easily share it with others.

    To keep the team and stakeholders aligned, I allowed them to check-in with me at the end of the morning and at the end of the day so that we could alter things if needed.

    User test: the moment of truth

    The validated prototype was a clear Learning Method page supporting the user in 5 steps of the customer journey: prepare, discover, try, choose, and use. The prototyped page allowed the user to filter the page content based on what phase they were in. The cognitive load on the users mind became a lot less as we already filtered out unnecessary information.

    Users could easily navigate and find the information they need based on the scenario I put them in during the interviews. Additionally, users were positively surprised to see information that was already on the current page but was hardly noticed. A big improvement.

    When asked to rate the disappointment they would experience if we wouldn’t present the Learning Methods this way, we got an average of 7.9 out of 10.  We tested the prototype with 6 users during 45–60-minute interviews.

    The prototype had some improvements, but not enough or not big enough to postpone the launch. I did some iterative design work and translated the screens into responsive pages and that the client and I discussed together with the external development company.

    Snippet from the bulk of post-its gathered during research

    Now the time has come to validate if our prototype is an actual solution to our challenge. I needed a ‘Yes’ to our critical sprint questions:

    1. Can we validate that the target group can find relevant and personalised information relatively fast? YES

    2. Can we validate that the visitor is triggered to take action and go to the next fase of the customer journey with us? YES

    3. Can we validate that the visitor can find the right information in the right phase of the customer journey? Mostly YES (4 out of 6) 

    The three validation questions answered using post-its

    Result after the Design Sprint

    The user test showed all three sprint questions answered positively. For only two users we couldn’t answer the third sprint question. With that result, the client confidently put the designs into the hands of the developers.

    Malmberg has now solved a challenge that had been part of discussions for a long time. What has been done in 4 weeks, hadn’t been done in over a year. 

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