Sprint 0 Exercise: The Homepage Sketch – 352 Noodles & Doodles

Last week, we introduced the first of our favorite Sprint 0 exercises – these are designed to help development teams and clients feel more comfortable and to draw out expectations for the development process. The Headline News exercise focused more on goals and outcomes of the web project, so today’s exercise is all about setting a design vision for the project – it’s called the Homepage Sketch. We know that every stakeholder has a slightly different vision of what their perfect website will look like, and this project really empowers both the team and the client to stretch their creative muscles.

Transcript below.

Image credit: Theo van Doesburg, Public Domain {{PD-1923}}

[Jennifer Fix:] Hi everyone my name is Jennifer. I’m a scrum master for 352, and today we’re going to be talking about one of our favorite Sprint 0 exercises, the homepage sketch. For this exercise, you’ll need a few things. You’re going to need some plain white paper, markers, tape, wall space, and a little bit of courage. Which, we’ll talk about in a minute.
 
How it works: we want everyone to participate much like all of our other Sprint 0 activities this one, even though it’s a sketch, it’s not just for the designers. We want the scrum master, the product owner, any stakeholders, any sales team members any and everyone who’s a part of Sprint 0. We want them to engage in this activity. What you’re going to do is give everyone a piece a paper and some markers and give them five to seven minutes to go ahead and sketch out a homepage concept for the design of your website. This isn’t exclusive to the homepage. We like to start with that since that’s the foundation for your website and the door to every other area of it. You can also use this exercise with UIs for inner pages, contact forms, layouts for product details pages, whatever you like and whatever you think will fit the needs of your Sprint 0 and of your client’s business. We want to make sure that everyone understands this is a rough concept. We’re not out looking for exceptional detail, specifically for your designers you might have to tell them to tone back a little bit. Just keep it casual, we’re not all artists, so we just want to give everyone a chance to feel comfortable sketching out their ideas. Once everyone has completed their drawings, we’re going to have them share with the group. That’s where you need a little bit of courage.
 
For those of us who aren’t talented in the way of being able to design, it can be a little scary to try and show other people what we’ve drawn. But we want everyone to feel comfortable the purpose is not to critique the design itself, but to gather data and ideas about what we can do. Once everyone has gone through and shared with the group. You want to go ahead and post it on the wall somewhere, so that we can see all of the different designs next to each other once we have everyone’s up on the board. Then you want to make sure to document your designs. Whether you keep the actual pieces of paper that the homepage sketches were drawn on or take pictures of them once they’re on the wall. We want to keep a copy of those on file so we can reference them as needed when we go back and are doing some additional work. The reason that we love this exercise is that first, it engages the entire group. You’re involving everyone and everyone gets to feel a part of the design process. Which just helps make your, not only development team, but your client feel empowered and feeling like they’re participating in every aspect of your website development. It reinforces shared goals when each person goes through and talks about the design that they’ve created and why they added certain elements to it. You get a really good idea of what everyone feels are important things for your homepage design. It also reveals discrepancies. It’s a great way to see if there are any features that everyone is really mixed on or torn on, or certain facets that one person feels very strongly about and someone else completely disagrees with. This will then serve as a great jumping off point to start conversations about handling those discrepancies and coming to a great common ground. It also helps discover new concepts and functionality. So many times when we have done this exercise we’ve come out with brand new ideas that we hadn’t even thought to discuss during some of the other conversational times of our Sprint 0’s. So, it’s a great way to get everyone on the same page, and then figure out is there anything we’ve been missing in our talks. Is there anything the development team hasn’t picked up on yet that the clients trying to describe to us?

I hope this will be really helpful for you. I hope it can be a fun and engaging activity. Thanks very much.