Week 11 @ Clearleft

My penultimate week at Clearleft, and I’m back doing a Virgin Holidays sprint. My experience here has come full circle, but I feel much more confident this time around. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to completely immerse myself in the Virgin sprint this time, as I’m so close to my final deadline for my major project. I did get to spend two full days with the team, which was really interesting and quite different to the last project I worked on with them.

This sprint was one-week long and the brief was to explore how to connect customers with ‘experts’ in their destination more effectively. Nathan and Alex from last time were back, but apart from that, the team was entirely different people, working towards a very different objective. Despite that, it was interesting how many similarities arose in terms of questions we needed to resolve, like what is the minimum amount of information that needs to be captured to generate a meaningful result and what’s the most frictionless way to achieve that? Once again we spent time debating how people think about holiday booking and what their mental models might be at this point.

This time we had several people from the stores and call centre as part of the project team, to give us their views from the front line. This definitely yielded some useful insights, but did make it a big team and a noisy few days in the office. As ever, the experience was rewarding but also exhausting. Sprints like this are great fun and definitely valuable but I think they need to be well spaced out or you could suffer from burnout pretty quickly.

The prototypes came together really well and the testing on Friday yielded some interesting results, teaching us a few things we expected and a few that we didn’t. Overall, people found the communication channel options appealing but there was some generational difference in which ones they felt comfortable using. We were able to prove the hypothesis that people did feel reassured by talking to real people, but we also identified a few adjustments to the UI that we had proposed.

I also did another round of user testing this week, which helped me to finetune my wireframes further. I was pleased that the changes I had made to the navigation seemed to be working, by and large, so that was successful. There were a number of other changes that did come out of it but they seemed like less fundamental elements at this point.

I’ve also spent a lot of time on my essay this week, which is getting up close to 10,000 words now. I’m going to go through and give it a final edit to cut that back as much as possible, but I don’t think I’ll get to the suggested 8,000 words, considering I still have a few more stages to complete. This week I’m going to try for a final round of user testing and collate some thoughts on the visual approach if I have time.

I’m feeling confident about getting it all done in time, which is a good place to be. I fear I may collapse into a quivering mess when it’s done though, as I’ve been working a lot of long days and late nights. Just one final push to get through now…

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