Finding Remote Workspaces: Design Sprint

5-day Modified Google Ventures Design Sprint, rapidly designing, prototyping and testing a feature within an application to help remote workers to find ideal public workspaces.

INTRODUCTION📖

I followed a modified Google Ventures Design Sprint

to rapidly design, prototype, and test a feature for PostUp, a startup connecting freelancers and remote workers, set forth in a design brief from BitesizeUX.

  • Day 1: Mapping end-to-end user experience
  • Day 2: Lightning Demos and Sketching Solutions
  • Day 3: Storyboarding
  • Day 4: Prototyping
  • Day 5: Usability Testing
View Full Prototype

PostUp Business Page

DAY 1

Understanding the Problem

After reviewing research notes and PostUp’s persona,
I developed a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and current methods used by remote workers and freelancers when looking for a public place to work.

It is not easy to find locations that consistently meet all of this criteria.

Remote workers spend an extraordinary amount of time researching ideal locations using platforms like Google Maps and Yelp.Understanding the most important criteria for remote workspaces influenced  my design for PostUp. I will return to these later as I introduce the prototype.

After identifying these common patterns and challenges among target users, I mapped out three end-to-end experiences through a product that could solve these issues.

Mapping three ideas for end-to-end user experience through new feature in PostUp

Of the three solutions, I decided the first best addresses the challenges identified in user interviews.

DAY 2

Lightning Demos and Sketching Solutions

I. Lightning Demos

Moving forward with solution (1) from the mapping exercise above, I used Lightning Demos to research competitor solutions similar to my own. I was surprised to find many inactive products that once sought to streamline the search for public places to work, but no longer exist.

The following represent three products that do still exist today, with similar solutions. I used the following to derive inspiration for PostUp’s new feature, and identify opportunities for improvement.

Workfrom.co presents a concise list of criteria users can use in their searches as one of their first website screens. This helps users understand main features of the product without flipping through too many screens.

Foursquare embodies the heuristic of consistency and standards, offering a layout of filters similar to what users would encounter in other applications.

MiFlight crowdsources airport security wait times through gamified incentives. The UI Design is distracting and inaccessible, elements I avoided in my own designs.

II. Crazy 8's

With inspiration and grasping opportunities for improvement compared to similar products, it was time to begin sketching screens for PostUp.

I began with a “crazy 8’s” exercise, rapidly sketching 8 different solutions to the problem in 8 minutes.

I selected the business page screen, recognizing this is where users make the critical decision of whether or not they should visit a public place to work.

In each of my solutions, I ensured the most pertinent information for remote workers and freelancers was available on the screen.

I decided to move forward with #8, recognizing a tabbed approach would reduce an overwhelming amount of information for users upon logging in.

III. Solution Sketch

With screen #8, I moved onto the creation of a three panel solution sketch.

This illustrates how a user would interact with PostUp’s interface by mapping the screens before and after the critical screen (business page) illustrated using Crazy 8’s.

In a normal design sprint, I would choose between multiple solution sketches.

With this modified format, I decided upon the features of the sketch below, as it provides all the necessary information users are looking for in a concise, easy to read format.

Solution Sketch including screens before and after business page (screen #8 from Crazy 8’s exercise above).

DAY 3

Storyboard

On Day 3 using the three panel solution sketches, I created a 14-panel storyboard to illustrate the step-by-step journey users travel through this new feature in PostUp.

The storyboard begins with the opening scene in which the user looks at her calendar and realizes she needs to find a public place to finish copywriting projects and meet with clients, in the East Village.

From there, she proceeds to use Google to find a spot and stumbles upon PostUp, and downloads it in the app store.

She ends the story when she navigates to the public place (a coffee shop) and begins her work.

DAY 4

Prototype

With a step-by-step journey established for the new feature in PostUp, I was ready to convert the storyboard into a functioning prototype for usability testing.

I built a prototype with enough high-fidelity elements to make the product feel real and elicit informative reactions from users.

The prototype of this feature allows users to browse and conduct searches for public places meeting the criteria gleaned from user interviews on Day 1 of the design sprint.

Research synthesis to prototype: problem solving process

Included the opportunity to browse public spaces to work by four popular categories mentioned in user interviews. This helps users narrow down their search immediately.

Given the multitude of criteria for ideal workspaces, I provided users with the chance to apply filters when searching, ensuring they are only viewing the most relevant results and able to make a decision in less time.

Pages for each public space includes easy access to the most important criteria users need when determining the ideal place to work. There is also an easy function to view business on a map and get directions, as location was cited as a critical consideration for users.

DAY 5

Testing

On day 5, I leapt into usability testing with 5 users across 5 different major US cities that all identified as individuals frequently looking for public places to work.

I. Goals for testing the prototype

  • Assess if onboarding, search, and navigation functions are easy to work through.
  • Identify common patterns and roadblocks for users, to address in further iterations of PostUp.

II. Major findings from usability testing

  • Users did not recognize the PostUp logo I created for the prototype as a logo.
  • All users opted to sign in with Google, which was not an interactive option built into the prototype.
  • On the main search page, 3 users were excited by the option to browse public places by category, but were disappointed by how little screen real estate this comprised on the page.
Pictures and reviews are the major determining factors in making the decision to visit a public place for work based on testing, and therefore need more emphasis on business pages.
  • Four users wanted to base their search on proximity to their current location, and could not easily find features to assist within the prototype.

LEARNINGS AND TAKEAWAYS

Lessons learned from this project

Completing the modified design sprint conveyed the value of rapid ideation and prototyping.

This removes scenarios of wasting weeks and months on products that do not directly align with users.
Immediate user feedback to validate major design decisions ensured I didn’t venture too far into product design prior to aligning with users.

I frequently struggle to find ideal public places to work myself, meaning I maintained bias going into the design process.

Continually referencing interviews notes and personas was critical to aligning with PostUp’s users, not my own original ideas.