Weeknotes #4

A profile photo of Richard Saunders

By on in Weeknotes

I’m writing this weeks weeknotes late which if I’m honest is something I’d like to prevent in the future. Its one of the reasons I’ve struggled to blog before, by setting schedules that I can’t always achieve.

Life can be busy, especially with a family with two young girls. But here are the highlights of the week that I’ve managed to gather from my daily notes.

Design principles workshop

A white board covered in groups of post it notes showing design principle themes

As the design team expands for the product, its important we approach the work we do with the same mindset. As a team we recently read Paul Boag’s post on design principles. The article helped us all gain a mutual understanding of the topic, and how it could help us make some key decisions.

We all took some time to explore design principles that we felt aligned with the product. We then ran a small workshop to explore our thinking. I was surprised by the different interpretations.

We came out of the session with a wide range of principles based on similar themes. These themes need narrowing down and clearer statements defined. We also felt a wider range of people need to be involved in the process to get better buy in.

Design sprint

As a team we’ve been feeling like we need to take a different approach to our design work than we have before. Dan suggested we looked at design sprints. I’ll be honest I bought the Design Sprint book a little while back but haven’t given it more than a scan read.

The Google ventures team have a great site and summary of how a design sprint should work.

We took this opportunity to set the design challenge on an area of the app that wraps all the functionality of Contensis together. The application frame.

Team challenges and pair designing

As a remote team it was difficult to align with the design sprint process. At the start of the week we were designing in silos. This led us to focussing more on design detail, than solving the app frame challenge.

Jon raised his concerns with the rest of the team in a morning standup and we were able to adjust what we were doing. This simple conversation put us back on track. I’m always thankful when team members are willing to voice their concern.

Jon focussed on recruiting testers and defined a test plan. Dan and I focussed on developing a set of high fidelity components to use in prototypes.

We took the time to try out paired designing with Figma’s multiplayer feature. We did this with an open Skype call and I must say I really enjoyed the process. I’ve tended to design in isolation over the years and obtained feedback once I’d got to a certain stage.

However Dan and I were able to talk through ideas, help each other understand Figma’s features better, whilst getting a lot of work done between us in the same file. We’ll definitely be working more like this in the coming months.

By the end of Thursday we’d developed 5 prototypes. These were then used in user testing to confirm our assumptions.

Google design sprints definitely gave a real focus to the week. We’ve already learnt a lot from this process, and we’ll continue learn more as we use it.

Bits and bobs

I also took some time this week to review the next version of Contensis. I like to take the time to run through new features, and raise any tweaks or polish that we can fix before we ship.

I often do this by running through new features against our documentation. This process validates both the product and the documentation.