Kicking off a Website Redesign with New Ideas

Glidewell Dental

Role

Faciliated and organized the design sprint, created the interactive prototype, and moderated the usability testing.

Intro

In April of 2019, Glidewell Dental kicked-off an ambitious project to rebrand the company, starting with the website and related digital properties. One of the largest challenges of this initiative was bringing together individuals and teams that did not typically work together - how could some 30-odd people collaborate and agree on a single solution?

I had been a big fan of Jake Knapp’s Design Sprint ever since his book came out. I had run a couple of design sprints in the company already, primarily to evangelize for good product thinking and to show the value of the design process. In this case, it seemed like the ideal activity to bring everyone together and focus on a singular goal. Coincidentally Jake had recently run a condensed version of his design sprint with the New York Times which usually takes a week in only two days.

Stepping in as the design lead on the project, I proposed the idea of the design sprint to the rest of the team. In one of my previous attempts to run a design sprint, I had been given a single day to do it. I asked Jake Knapp at the time for advice on how to go about doing this:

Asking Jake Knapp for advice on running an abbreviated sprint

Organizing and facilitating

Thankfully for this time around, I was able to split the sprint across a few days. To start, I pulled out a smaller group for three hours the day before the sprint to tackle the mapping activities. To help this along even more (since this usually takes a full day), quotes and research from customer interviews earlier in the year were brought in to help with the “How might we” portion. By lunch we had come out with a map, goals, and questions for the rest of the sprint team to tackle tomorrow.

Goal and questions
The goal and questions
Note-n-map
Note-n-map

For the day of the sprint, I was able to narrow the group down to about 20 people stretching all groups - developers, copywriters, coordinators, product owners, product managers, and designers. I leaned heavily on the book as well as AJ&Smart’s Design Sprint 2.0 - a lot of the activities in 2.0 are more specific and not as vague in terms of what participants need to do.

The sprint day covered the activities from sketching to deciding. Thanks to a well-prepared slide deck and Spotify playlist for focusing on tasks, the sprint ran smoothly and on time. At the end of the day, the deciders chose two concepts to pit against each other.

Lightning round sketches on a whiteboard
Lightning round sketches on a whiteboard

To finish off the prototype, I ran a story mapping session with the two creators of the concepts along with a decider and subject matter expert. After the first pass of mapping the steps, we noticed that the two concepts were really complimentary and combined them into a single concept. I put together an interactive prototype to work with our testing scenarios and then prepared for testing.

Storyboard on the whiteboard
Working on the storyboard
Prototype screens
The interactive prototype coming together

Due to a couple of no-shows, the usability tests were only able to be conducted with three participants. We did our best to have everyone that participated in the sprint view the tests and then came together afterward to share our findings.

What did we learn?

Ultimately while the final concept was one that everyone supported and loved (and tested well), the feedback we gathered from our testing was even more valuable. We realized that the concept itself needed to support much more complex scenarios - scenarios that would require more research and understanding and not something that would be able to be executed within the timeframe of the website redesign effort.

I definitely think running the sprint was worth it though. In the beginning, one of the bigger problems was defining roles, as most people thought they could only work on what their job title specified them for. The design sprint seeks to put everyone on equal footing with their ideas. The use of dot voting also provides equal footing when it comes to decisions and making sure that everyone feels heard.

The one change I would make would be in the final testing portion. We waited a couple of weeks after the sprint was done to do the testing so some of the momentum was lost. It was also difficult to get all of the sprint participants to observe the testing, which is where I think most of the realization comes in when you get to see real people reacting to your ideas.

Sprints are not easy to organize or facilitate, but it’s really something to see people working together on a common goal and seeing their ideas come to life in such a short amount of time.