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Major Retail Chain

A Design Sprint to increase velocity and gain leadership buy-in

Design Sprint



1+ weeks

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A Design Sprint to Increase Velocity and Gain Leadership Buy-In

Disclaimer: Due to the nature of this engagement, the brand name of this client must be kept private.

Expediting the design process

In Q4 2019, a Senior Product Manager at a Major Retail Chain (hereby known as the Client) was looking at his roadmap for a customer experience that they hoped to redesign by late Q3 2020. In order for the development team to hit this timeline, designs had to be done in Q2, which meant that the new product direction would need to be done in Q1, only a few months away. In other words, they needed solutions fast. For this reason, he began looking up companies that could help run a Design Sprint with their team.

He was familiar with Design Sprints because he’d done them several times with a previous company. The company he worked at now had never run a Design Sprint before, but he was confident that this type of process would be just what his team needed to quickly achieve cross-team alignment and deliver high-fidelity prototypes that would immediately move into testing with their users. Specifically, he knew that quickly testing with users would reveal if the 2020 redesign would be better than the current experience. Ultimately, the Client achieved this, and more.

Process & objectives

The “by the book” Design Sprint is a 5-day workshop that begins with three days of workshops followed by a day of designs and ending with a day of user testing. The engagement between Crema and Client differed only slightly, as the designs would take place the weeks after the Sprint, and testing would follow after that.

As two Crema Coaches, Justin Mertes & Tyler Hilker, prepared the agenda for the workshops, they were keeping in mind the ultimate goal: arrive at high-fidelity designs that can be tested against their current experience in order that the Client would have the confidence to move forward—or not— with their new idea.

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Our teams met regularly leading up to the kickoff date to make sure all parties were aligned on expectations, schedules, and deliverables.

Days 1-3

Each day from 10 am - 4 pm, the team would be fully present for the collaborative workshops. Knowing that Design Sprints are a large time commitment, it was important that the Client’s team had 8-10 am to take care of other pressing items. Not only this, but both the 8-10 am and 4-5 pm times hosted essential stakeholder conversations that gave crucial context into the work that had been, and was yet to be, completed.


After designs were finalized, the Client immediately hosted a large-scale stakeholder review to receive suggestions & buy-in from the team before moving forward. The designs were finalized and presented to users for feedback. With user feedback in place, the Client presented their work & findings to key stakeholders to hear any further suggestions and finalize next steps.

The most valuable part of the Sprint was the ability to have time to do some deep thinking and commit the time to it. I never get this much time to focus on one problem.” – Sr. UI/UX Designer

“[These three days] were hugely important. We rapidly got to a place that would've taken us probably weeks to get to, and the alignment is way better doing it this way.”

Sr. Product Manager

Results & next steps

The team tested the designs with eight users. The users were segmented by income, familiarity with the Client, shopping patterns, and other key demographic insights reflective of the Client’s customer base. The users were shown the 2019 and 2020 experiences (in random order) and asked to process out loud their thoughts about each. The interviews ended with our ultimate question: which of these two sites do you prefer, and why?

Ultimately, 88% of the users preferred the new designs. Users said that the new experience…

  • was more complete than the previous experience.
  • is cleaner that the previous experience.
  • has better navigation.
  • gives [me] more to do.
  • feels more complete.

The team also received encouragement on specific elements from their 2019 experience that was stronger than the new designs.

With this feedback, the team integrated the most successful parts of 2019’s experience with the new designs, resulting in a richer and more robust set of designs. These designs were approved by the Client stakeholder team, and are currently being implemented to be rolled out in late 2020.

Along with this success metric, the Design Sprint led to the ideation of a new solution that has become the focus of a complete rebuild of the experience in 2021. This context gives the product teams an opportunity to build 2020’s experience in a way that will allow for a seamless transition.

Key learnings

Perhaps the biggest takeaway for the Crema team was just how essential the meetings with stakeholders outside of the Sprint team were. We invited folks from a broader set of departments: Marketing & Communications Department, Senior Management (Development), Management Team, and the Director of Digital Product Strategy & E-Commerce. Each of these conversations provided unique and essential perspectives, including, but not limited to:

  • expectations of the visuals of the experience
  • cost of producing high-quality imagery
  • realistic workloads of the development team
  • long-term goals for the experience for 2021 and beyond
  • alignment with other initiatives in progress
  • dependencies that impacted our path to the end goal

By keeping the full team in the loop, requesting their feedback, and (occasionally) forcing ourselves into their schedules, the team ultimately made decisions that were strategic, practical, and technically feasible. Even the best of teams wouldn’t have predicted the challenges and opportunities that were brought up in each of those four conversations.

The energy was great. Crema quickly immersed themselves into our business and they were very clear on what we had to do. - Team Lead


The team's energy after an impromptu meeting with a Director on Day 4 was palpable. The outcomes of the Design Sprint gave the Director confidence and direction to make even bolder decisions for next year. This gave the team a new sense of autonomy and purpose.

Even more exciting was the whirlwind process of designing, testing, presenting results, making tweaks, and receiving approval from leadership to move forward. A Product Manager reached out after the final meeting, saying:

"I think what sold leadership is that they saw that we took their feedback and integrated it. We are providing incremental value to both the customer and our creative teams, and we were able to show how this work is a stepping stone for the work we want to do next year. Being able to speak to our customer feedback and how it shaped our designs went over really well too."

Once again, the Design Sprint proved to be a valuable solution for teams looking to rapidly ideate, align cross-disciplined teams, expedite and inform their product roadmap, and immediately learn what their users want.

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