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From problem to tested prototype in 5 days: TrueMotion’s first Design Sprint

We have some of the best minds in the business trying to solve the distracted driving epidemic. We’ve developed two apps in the past couple years, TrueMotion Family and Mojo, that are designed to hit distracted driving from different angles. TrueMotion Family helps parents with teenage drivers make sure they keep their hands on the wheel, not their phone, by revealing driving and distraction scores to the whole family. Mojo takes a different approach, rewarding people who drive distraction-free with gift cards. Both have been successful – we’ve seen distraction drop up to 20% across people using our apps over 12 weeks. And perhaps more importantly, people actually love using both apps.

But we want to do more. We decided we needed to take a step back from our daily schedules and re-engage the problem of distracted driving with fresh eyes. We adopted the sprint approach, popularized by Google Ventures’ Jake Knapp and used by companies like Slack, 23andMe, Twitter, YouTube, AirBnB, and Facebook.

The structure of a sprint enables a team to go from problem to prototype testing with real people in five days. There are some ground rules, namely that people block off their calendars and that devices and computers are not allowed in the room.

Day one is about mapping the big picture. What’s the long-term goal? Ours was to create a product that people love and helps them reduce distracted driving. You shoot for optimism and ask yourself: What happens when we win? We wrote a letter to ourselves from the future describing why and how we won. Then you go in the opposite direction and ask yourself: How might we fail? You share info with the team, listening to one person at a time. We discussed behavioral triggers and motivators and dove deep into user psychology and demographics. Then we mapped the user experience from start to finish and decided which section we wanted to concentrate on for the sprint.

For a distracted driving app, the typical experience goes like this: The user downloads the app, goes through onboarding, may or may not do something else in the app on the first use, and then goes for a drive at a certain point. As soon as a person starts driving, the apps diverge in experience. Some will actively prevent you from using your phone. Others, like TrueMotion Family and Mojo, just run in the background. If there’s a data component where the app provides feedback on your drive, the app will have a flow that shows your trip data.

Our focus for the design sprint was on this “hero” journey – app onboarding and first use after a drive. If we’re going to delight a user and get them excited about the app, it needs to be on the first time they open it and the first time they go for a drive.

Design sprint. Distracted driving. Crazy 8s

Day two of the sprint was structured around lightning app demos and brainstorm sketching. Each member of the team demoed features of apps with relevant or provocative features, walking through the experience in two minutes. Then we took these ideas and others and ran individual brainstorming and sketching sessions with exercises called Crazy 8s (above) and Storyboards. Each one of these exercises was timeboxed, which forced us to keep moving quickly. We presented each of these ideas to the team.


Design sprint. Distracted driving. Voting

Day three was a big day because we chose which ideas we wanted to pursue and prototype. Each member of the team got five votes for the storyboards they liked most. We voted silently by placing stickers on our favorite ideas. We took the winning ideas and we created a product storyboard for them, focusing on the hero journey.

Day four was dedicated to prototyping. We used Sketch to wireframe and build a prototype of our app, but you can easily use Keynote, Powerpoint, InVision, or Marvel. The app doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be a high definition version of your idea. Ultimately, it should be good enough for users to tap through and have a good enough idea of what the app could do to observe user reactions and solicit feedback. After all, the whole goal of the sprint is to see if your idea is viable with target users.

Day five was all about testing. We took our prototype in Sketch, animated it in InVision, and wrote a test script to run through with each one of our users. We found five users on, which qualified them for us, and did all the scheduling. Five users is enough to reveal big patterns and give you a sense of whether you’re going in the right direction or not. You find about 85% of usability problems with just five people.

In the end, we uncovered confusion around certain features in the app that were easily solvable with a copy adjustment, an additional screen, or a new icon. The fundamental premise was well received and we saw a light bulb go off in our testers’ heads at the same point during the hero journey.

But more than this, we generated a ton of ideas to tackle distraction with new apps and approaches in just a few days. Even the ones that didn’t make it into the prototype are still sitting on the shelf, ready to be used when needed. We also proved that sprints can work, and that we should add them to our arsenal for taking on big challenges. We’ll be doing more sprints in the future.

Got detailed questions on how we ran our sprint? We’d be happy to share our experience. Just reach out and say hello in the chat bubble.

Categories: Blog

  • Robye Nothnagel said : Saw your post about the sprint and new ideas. Would love to be part of your test group. I am a victim of a distracted driving crash so very interested in technology around this terrible epidemic. Cheers, Robye Nothnagel 970-331-3290 January 23, 2018 |
  • Matt Fiorentino said : Hey Robye, Thanks for your note and your interest. We'll keep you in mind for future beta testing. Have you tried Mojo yet? Best, Matt January 23, 2018 |