Shopee Design Sprint

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How does a leading e-commerce company design?

We at Shopee believe in creating the best experience for our users, but what do you do when different teams have distinctive interpretations of what these experiences should look like?

  • How do you design for millions of users?
  • How do you take into account the multitude of preferences, use cases, experience levels, cultures even?
  • How do you go from vague idea of how something could work to ‘this is it’?

In January 2018, the Design and Customer Experience (CX) teams brought together Designers, CX-ers, Marketers, Developers, Product Managers from Singapore and Taiwan at Shopee HQ to do just that — build a bridge.

What is a Design Sprint?

A design sprint is a five step framework that helps teams arrive at clearly defined goals, deliverables and uncover key learnings quickly through:

  1. Ideation
  2. Rapid prototyping
  3. User testing

The process helps spur innovation, encourage user-centric thinking, and align teams under a shared vision to launch products faster.

Prior to the Sprint

In the lead up to the sprint, Customer Experience (CX) and Design (UX/UI) teams worked together to define the workshop flow and user research. Perhaps most importantly, get buy-in from different teams — no easy feat keeping your own calendar clear for a full day, let alone 16 other calendars.

CX, Design & HR prepping the night before

Day of the Sprint

Participants from different functions (e.g. marketing, design) were grouped and introduced to each other before embarking on the day’s activities:

  • Affinity Mapping — understand user behaviours
  • How might we.. “ — re-frame pain points into opportunities
  • Card Sorting — establish design guidelines based on user needs
  • Sketch Storming — translate ideas into physical mockups

Part 1: User Discovery

Affinity Mapping

Each participant watched user interview videos from 1 of 6 different user segments, and came prepared with their observations written on post-it notes.

Affinity maps were then used to organize and categorize these many different data points, from which common themes and relationships surrounding the observations emerged — even uncovering previously hidden ones.

The individual teams then shared the findings of their respective user segments with the wider group. This streamlined the process of establishing common understanding of Shopee’s broad range of users between different stakeholders.

 “How might we..”

So what do you do with 500 post-it notes?

Each person selected 1 or 2 specific pain points from the earlier categories (deemed most pressing based on personal preference) and defined a solution and/or opportunity using the “How might we..” method.

After which, they voted on the ideas and explored the top 3 with a Q&A session. This again, was done to facilitate collective understanding through a common lens.

Part 2: Solution Discovery

The second half of the day focused on devising a design that met different user groups’ needs. To do this, participants were regrouped so each group had a mix of user personas.

Card Sorting

Teams were given cards with components of Shopee’s digital interface and tasked to first classify, then sort according to importance. The open card sort method allowed participants to explore each others’ conceptions of user mental models. From this, teams were able to organically determine their design guidelines for the next phase of the sprint.

Sketch Storming

How do 16 people agree on a design?

Participants first put pen to paper and individually sketched their ideal product, then sketched a single mock-up as a group.

To come to a consensus — “ this is good, we want this”, participants voted on ‘best component’ and ‘overall best’ after completing each sketch (e.g. a homepage can be made up of multiple components like toolbar, image carousel, listings).

In contrast to Google’s sprint which involves only individual sketching among 5–7 people, this Shopee design sprint included the group sketch storm in order to facilitate a larger group’s arrival at a common consensus.

The insights that emerged from the diverse set of participants will no doubt be invaluable to future product development and innovations.

Key Learnings

The process of :

  • understanding users
  • designing experiences
  • building products

might be complex and challenging, but good collaboration between cross functional teams is essential for a useful high-quality product.

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