Using Design Sprints to personalize the Home Depot homepage

As many of you know, THD was named one of the most innovative companies of 2017 by Fast Company. This is due largely to our focus on connecting the physical store to the digital world. In 2017 THD continues to place a focus on delivering meaningful + frictionless experiences across all customer touchpoints.

Decider voting on solution sketches.

In my most recent role, my focus is on design thinking. That said, like many corporate designers, I have the difficult request of implementing new methodologies to break down silos. Enter Design Sprints. Specific goals are to re-frame a problem, create upfront alignment across cross-functional teams and test assumptions quickly. The first project introduction to the team is a for THD homepage.

As an important project for this year’s focus, our team set out to use a Design Sprint to help re-envision THD homepage as an interconnected and personalized One Home Depot. Specifically, we looked to design a new homepage that dynamically serves meaningful content based on targeted user segments.

Up-front work

In the week preceding the sprint, we performed several pre-sprint exercises to set the sprint and team up for success. These exercises were centered around THD and our Customers.

We spent time understanding problems the business is passionate about solving. Specifically, we embarked on two business alignment workshops, default future and a visioning exercise.

In the default future exercise, we asked ourselves if nothing changes what will to future visits of the homepage? From this, we landed on four main themes.

Next, we posed the question of what the ideal state of the homepage is and synthesized themes. Now that we spoke with the business, we shifted our focus to our customer base. I used a sample survey to build a high-level view of our users perception of the current homepage.

What to focus on

Our sprint team was made up of representatives from design, product and content. On Monday, we set out to re-frame our problem and landed on a business goal.

Homepage will act as a personalized dashboard that serves relevant content to each customer and can be accessed from anywhere.

Additionally, we focused on one data point for new users with one additional data point for existing users.

HMW notes, with actionable target for the week.

Sketching allowed us to ideate quickly

Once we had our target, the team began to ideate solutions using the four step sketch process. This process is centered around the philosophy of “work alone but together.” Specifically, the notion is that group brainstorms aren’t effective. Instead, we leveraged our group brain on several activities geared toward each person thinking through solutions individually.

Group brain for the sketching exercise.
Output from one four-step sketch.
Cut-paper storyboarding was a blast!

After we chose a design direction, we opted to use a modular cut-paper approach for storyboarding. This allowed us to explore different layouts very quickly with no risk on re-drawing.

On Friday, we tested our prototype to reveal patterns and discrepancies

In the end, we were able to identify modules that tested well based on the user goals and data points selected. These were prioritized into follow-up UI refinement workshops.

Our retrospective revealed that the team praised the framework for it’s ability to create upfront alignment and collaboration. We plan to run subsequent mini-sprints around the prioritized modules.

Wrapping up

For anyone looking to run sprints themselves, I recommend reading the GV book. There are additional resources out there too, like the Design Sprint Academy. Then, it will be important to frame your problem + research ahead of time and vet it for the sprint. Once this is done, GV’s design sprints lay out a great agenda you can use to efficiently validate your potential solutions.

In closing, Design Sprints are an excellent framework for answering critical business questions and testing assumptions. That said, I will continue to use Design Sprints as part of my design thinking toolkit as I drive experiences for the Interconnected Retail team at THD.


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