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Design Sprint: Facilitator tips for Friday.

This is the fifth and final part of a 5-part instalment of Design Sprint tips, focussing on test day. Today is the day all of our hard work turns into actionable insight.

Today will feel entirely different from the week so far. The hard work is done and today’s activities are already planned and prepared. Today can be a little nerve-racking for the interviewers, so rally the team to support each other. The key thing to remember is that we can’t fail; regardless of whether the users love or hate the prototype, we’ll gain incredibly valuable feedback that will help us make decisions.

The Test Lab

We’re here, you’ve rearranged the furniture in the Design Sprint war room for the last time. Post-its and pens are neatly laid out. The AV equipment has been checked and tested - everything is in good shape. Here’s our first batch of tips for the crescendo of the Sprint week.

Lab rules

Now, from experience, we know that a successful usability test is built on some basic lab rules. Here’s a list of things you should make the team aware of that are watching on from the observation room. You can print these rules out and stick ‘em up as a reminder.

Listen first, talk after - It’s ok to talk to one another but please wait until a suitable time to do so. Do not talk over a participant and do not talk whilst others are trying to listen.

  • No devices allowed - It might seem harmless but your devices are not welcome in the observation room. It is important to minimise the distractions and ensure we get the most from our tests.
  • Be respectful - Ensure you are treating our participants with the utmost respect. This is about testing our hypothesis, not testing them.
  • Listen to instructions - Your test session will be run by one individual who will instruct you throughout the process. Be sure to listen carefully and follow instructions as given.
  • Arrive early - Please arrive before the test is due to begin or you will not be allowed in the observation room. Tests will start on time with or without you.

Face to face vs Remote

It really doesn’t matter if you’re able to get test participants to come to you or whether you have to do it remotely. There’s not much of a trade-off either way. Sure it might be easier to build a rapport in the flesh, but the participant may feel more comfortable in their own environment. Going remote does keep you flexible though, especially if you work internationally. Here are our top video call solutions:

  • Google Hangouts - simple, easy to use and free!
  • Zoom - Awesome recording capability, although conference calls are capped at 40 mins.
  • Skype - What can we say, it’s the godfather of video conferencing.

Always Be Recording (ABR)

Make sure you record your test sessions, you don’t want to miss a thing. Quite easily done when you’re busy writing away on a Post-it. Your ears might be picking up feedback. But you may miss some vital screen interaction. And to make sure you don’t forget to hit record, write ABR on a Post-it by your monitor. Disclaimer: Always make sure you get the participant’s permission before recording.

Peel off properly (POP)

Do you know how to pop? This is what we ask our team members before any Post-it exercise. “I beg your pardon!”, is usually the response. “We’re talking about Post-it notes. Do you know how to Peel Off Properly? P.O.P.” This may seem a little frivolous, but once you explain that peeling notes off from the side, rather than the bottom, helps them to keep sticking to the wall - you seem a little less absurd. But more importantly, all your test insight will remain grouped in the place it is supposed to be.

Interview Moderation

Ok, so as we mentioned in our previous article, the role of the interview moderator is supercritical. A great moderator can help 10X the team’s insight on test day. Here are a few general tips to help your moderator out.

Break the ice

Let’s put our empathy hats on for a moment. Imagine you’re the test participant walking into a strange room, meeting strange people, perhaps there’s some weird recording equipment set up. It can be quite unnerving for them. The first thing the moderator has to do is make our participants feel super relaxed.

  • Meet and greet them with a smile 🙂
  • Thank them for giving up some of their day
  • Ask them about their journey (or the weather, we love talking about the weather in the UK)
  • Make sure you can offer them a drink (and maybe a cheeky biscuit)

We’re not testing the user!

Another way you can help your candidate feel more relaxed is to tell them that, “We’re testing the design, we’re not testing you”. Emphasise that their feedback will help improve the product for others as we test the usability of the design.

Open-ended questions

So, that’s the pleasantries out of the way. Now, once the interview has begun and the script is in full flow a skilled moderator will never ask closed questions that lead to a short yes/no answer. Skilled journalists and researchers always ask open questions. Like:

  • How do you feel about…?
  • What do you think will happen when you click…?
  • How would you like it to behave…?

Silence is golden

Remember this — it’s a golden rule: Never, ever, ever break the silence first. It’s quite tough and goes against your usual social interaction senses. But stay strong, don’t crack first, and let the participants feel the pressure a little bit. The result is the participant will dig deeper into their emotions and share some deeper thoughts with the team.

A common technique is to engineer a silence, when you’re talking to them just start, to trail off… Your… Senten… Then pause. The participant will pick up where you left off and fill in the gaps, and you’ve helped direct them towards a topic without giving them a loaded question.

Want to learn more?

Jake Knapp, the creator of the Design Sprint and author of the Sprint Book, stars in an awesome video on the Five-Act Interview (7 min watch)

Take a look at our tips for:

Running a Design Sprint?

Download our free slide deck. It includes tips for each exercise on Friday, as well as every other day in the sprint.


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