Marks & Spencer

Design Sprints

Running design sprints to investigate, prototype & test new digital services.

Case study image for M&S Design Sprints

The Challenge

For over 100 years, M&S have been one of the best-known names on the British high street.

M&S are famous not just for food. They provide high quality fashion, homeware, flowers, wines & gifts… the list goes on! But the high street is changing.

The rise of home shopping has dramatically changed the competitive landscape. More customers now buy from the internet, and M&S are investing heavily in a revamped digital presence. Part of this involves new ways of buying.

The Solution

We worked with M&S to trial run some new ideas. Specifically, these were around the idea of online subscriptions & gifting. New ways of shopping for these much-moved products, with online at the focus.

Taking inspiration from Google Ventures’ Design Sprint methodology, we helped develop these new product ideas. This involved building prototypes that could be tested & validated with real customers.

The goal was to quickly learn what worked, and what didn’t. To help M&S inform their product roadmap.

The Project

Competitor research & testing

We started with a full competitor audit. Most importantly, this included usability testing of the more interesting services already available.

Putting our competition in front of customers helped us to understand the current landscape. To see where the opportunities are. We asked what people what they liked about the current services, and what they didn’t.

It highlighted problems to avoid, and great patterns we should borrow.

User testing existing services helped inform our own ideas.

Scoping out new solutions & ideas

After doing our research, we worked with key stakeholders at M&S to map out the experience. We sketched up solutions that we wanted to explore. We didn’t limit ourselves to just one route.

The nature of design sprints meant we could develop and test multiple ideas in different sprints, and compare how they were received.

We collaboratively planned and sketched up potential solutions.

Rapid prototype design

Our ideas were taken forward into interactive prototypes.

Prototypes quickly brought the solutions to life. They took ambiguity away from the process, and gave a clearer understanding of how these services could work.

More importantly, they allows the ideas to be tested by real customers.

We iterated quickly, moving through fidelities as our routes were validated out by both user & stakeholder feedback. By continually trying new things, we could plan the best possible experience in a matter of weeks.

Wireframe prototypes helped to quickly bring the solutions to life.

User testing & iteration

At the end of a design sprint, we’d test our prototypes with real users. We took a range of approaches to our testing, to avoid skewed results.

Some tests were run formally, in the lab. Others were more guerilla-style, approaching customers in M&S stores with the prototype running on a phone, and simply asking for feedback.

This gave us a balanced spread of results. It helped us to optimise further design iterations.

The most important stage was to validate our ideas with real customers.

The Results

Our research & design prototypes were used as stimulus for the wider business.

The work was presented to key stakeholders at M&S, as a vision for how new digital products could be used. The good ideas could then be taken from our work, and used them to inform the organisation’s development roadmap going forwards.

Chris has heaps of UX design experience and knowledge which allows him to quickly turn ideas, research and themes into detailed journey mapping and prototyping. This ability to explore an idea and represent the concept visually allows teams to iterate, change and improve quickly. I hope I’ll be able to work with Chris again soon!

- Beth Cross - Product Manager, Marks & Spencer

Due to the experimental nature of this work, we can’t share a link to the finished product. Contact us if you’d like to learn more about our design sprint capability!

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