How to Determine in a Design Sprint?

The moment of truth! In the Determine phase, we put our concept in the hands of users. The goal is to gather as much feedback as possible from users that interact with our prototypes. Likewise, this is the time to listen to the feedback of other stakeholders and review – technological and practical – dependancies.

The end result? A validated concept. Or, in some cases, a rejected concept that we can learn from. No matter what the outcome will be, it is another step in the right direction.

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with something original.”

Sir Ken Robinson

When we put our concept to the test, we cannot hand over our concept and expect users to provide substantiated and clear feedback. It is a bit more complicated than that. To increase the chances of feedback being informative, and to make learning from user interactions easier, we need to design and prepare so called user tests.

What do I need for a user test?

– The prototype
The goal of testing with users is to find out how well a certain design, concept or solution performs. Therefore, test with prototypes that are built for the sole purpose of answering that one specific question.

– The test subject
Inform test participants about the test setup and its purpose. Keep the explanation brief as we do not want to spoil how the proposed design or solution works. This could introduce bias in the equation.

– User feedback
Make sure you’ve chosen the right methods to collect and analyze the information or feedback you are after. Ask the participant for permission for the use of the selected measurement methods. We recommend methods that do not disrupt or interfere with the user’s interaction with the prototype.

– The context
With Design Thinking, we design answers to challenges that people encounter in real life. For this reason, we recommend conducting the test in a scenario that recreates the context in which users would make use of the proposed answer in real life.

How to conduct a user test?

– Present multiple prototypes
It is a good idea to use multiple prototypes in a test session. Users who can compare between different versions find it easier to point out which prototype they like and which they do not. Comparisons make it easier for users to describe which elements of a prototype are an addition and which are not.

Happy mistakes
No matter how a user interacts with a prototype, do not correct them. It is better to observe and learn from the mistakes and reactions of users.

– Ask users to think out loud
When users are exploring and interacting with a prototype, ask them to think out loud. Some might feel awkward talking out loud. If this is the case, talk to them about a light-hearted or unrelated topic first. This helps them feel more comfortable with the test.

– Ask follow-up questions
Even if you think you already know the outcome of something, it is still a good habit to ask follow-up questions. Remember, we want to challenge assumptions. Examples of follow-up questions include a simple “Why?”, “How did this make you feel?”, or “What did you mean with…?”

The End Game

Design Thinking is a nonlinear and human-centered design process that emphasizes iteration. Yet, there is one point that we work towards. The goal of each Design Thinking project is to develop an answer that is desirable, feasible, and viable.

– Desirable
If a solution is desirable, it means that it appeals to people. This is the human-centered aspect of Design Thinking, where designers aim to understand and answer the needs of people they are designing for.

– Feasible
The proposed solution needs to be practical, realistic, and implementable. Technical aspects should not dictate the future of a solution or design, Design Thinking is a human-centered process.

– Viable
While Design Thinking is not about making a profit, proposed solutions should be self-sustaining. Think about a business model that can support the proposed solution or the Design Thinking process to come up with innovations.

Is your solution desirable, feasible, and viable? If not, hold on and iterate until you are there. If the answer is yes, job well done! You have launched an answer that will make people happier and the world a better place to live.

Olivier Wouters

Olivier grew up in a design office. The designers and architects there showed him how to use design to innovate. In 2016 he graduated as MSc Information Studies: Human Centered Multimedia at the University of Amsterdam. He since specialised in Design Thinking and Meaning-Driven Innovation.