This week has been back in the thick of it with a one-week sprint with the BBC. The project brief is around creating a survey interface to enable the Beeb to run scientific experiments. They are planning a project called about mental health later this year, which will take the temperature of the UK public, to see how they sit on a scale of happiness. The longer term plan is to work with the Open University, who are building their own platform for similar purposes, but in the interim they wanted to create their own, which will also act as a blueprint for the OU.
Two nice chaps from the BBC came down to Clearleft to join us for the first two days, briefing us thoroughly on the history of the project and the objectives and requirements they had in mind.
We worked together to define the challenge statement, which we ended up deciding was actually two separate statements, the first encompassing the OU phase of the project:
How can we design an end to end experiment including feedback that feels human and empowering and allows us to reveal surprising facts to our users?
Demonstrate a snapshot of an interface that provides an un-fiddly frictionless experience for gathering data that feels welcoming and credible. It should work across desktop, tablet and mobile, allowing users of all ages to submit data from any location.
The first exercise we did was called Triads, which involved writing individual words or phrases on sticky notes that we felt described the ideal solution to the brief. We each came up with a long list of words, which we stuck on a whiteboard. Next, we organised the words into groups of three, that seemed to describe the product more holistically. Some of the groupings we came up with were:
- Accessible for all (non-scientists), informative, delightful
- Not waffle, motivating (to improve happiness), interesting
- Surprising, not academic, holistic
- Un-condescending, meaningful, to do with real life
- Uncomplicated, encouraging, relevant
- Secure, warm, rewarding
- Authoritative, easy, stimulating
- Satisfying, altruistic, part of bigger process
- Clear, engaging, safe
Each of these word groups created quite different impressions of the product, which was interesting food for thought and helped to sharpen our focus on which ones felt more appropriate. We voted on our favourites and these are the three that won:
- Surprising, useful human
- Empowering, thought-provoking, trustworthy
- Un-fiddly, credible, welcoming
Next we worked on a customer journey map, which was a lengthy process with much discussion. It was interesting to consider the user’s state of mind at each stage and helped us round out our mental models of how the survey tool would operate.
We also spent some time on lightning demos of various tools that relate to the survey, like the BBC’s What’s the right diet for you? and Typeform’s science quizzes. It was interesting to see some of the past work the Beeb has done in this area, and it didn’t seem like we had to completely reinvent their way of approaching this, just fine-tune it a little.
Next we moved onto sketching, using some of the questions we’d identified during the last couple of days as a foundation for our drawings. Here are a few of my amateurish scribbles:
I left the business of designing the interface to Jerlyn, as there was a short turnaround time to get the designs to the BBC for feedback. These are not polished visually, just demonstrating the flow and incorporating some of the concepts we’d discussed, like progressive disclosure and the progress indicator.
Jerlyn and I tested the interface in some dummy runs of the feedback and then presented the design to the BBC over a conference call. Their feedback was largely positive, so we just need to make a final few tweaks and then do some user tests on Monday. It will be interesting to see how it performs. Hopefully the BBC team will be pleased with what we’ve achieved in such a short space of time. It’s incredible what you can do within a tight timeframe when you have a framework like the Google design sprint to work within.