CHI23 – The UCD Sprint: A Process for User-Centered Innovation
April 27, 2023 (Thursday)
Exploring innovative ideas for interactive software has its challenges. We propose an in-person CHI course, where we explain the structure of the User-Centred Design (UCD) Sprint process, which has been suggested to support teams in exploring users’ needs and the future usage of software with the active involvement of users. Research study results show great benefits for the sprint participants. The course will introduce the UCD Sprint process, and participants will practice two steps from the UCD Sprint: the user group analysis and stating user experience goals.
By the end of the course, participants know why, when, and how to use the UCD Sprint process. This tutorial appeals to researchers and developers working in the early phases of innovative research or software development projects, focusing on users that might be different from the developers.
In this CHI course, we explain the structure of the UCD Sprint process, when to use the process, and whom to invite to attend the UCD Sprint. The process is adaptable and provides a flexible schedule that works for remote and in-person teams, experienced or beginners alike. Participants practice two steps from the process that are less-known methods: the User Group Analysis method (Discovery – step 2) and Setting UX goals (Discovery – step 4). These steps focus on a deep understanding of user and system needs and goals, addressing one of the main issues that lead to failure in new software launches – misunderstanding of users. At the end of the course, there is time for discussions on how to use the UCD Sprint in various types of projects. The course is scheduled in two sessions 75 minutes sessions and the content of each session is described below.
Session 1 (75 minutes):
- Introduction to the course schedule and the presenters.
- Introduction to the UCD Sprint process.
- Introduction to the user group analysis method – Discovery – step 2 in the UCD Sprint process.
- Participants do an exercise using the user group analysis method.
- Discussion of the benefits of the user group analysis and how best to adapt it to individuals and teams.
Session 2 (75 minutes):
- Introduction to UX goals – Discovery – step 4 in the UCD Sprint process.
- Participants do an exercise on exploring and deciding UX goals.
- Introduction to how the process could be used in the industry and research.
- Q/A session and open discussion at the end.
The User-Centred Design (UCD) Sprint was proposed by HCI researchers from Finland, Iceland, Denmark, and Estonia in 2021 . It is a cost-effective process to define what to design in the early stages of software development, especially focusing on exploring big and innovative ideas.
The UCD Sprint process was developed through three editions of an intensive interaction design course. In the first edition, the focus was on introducing and practising UCD methods . In the second edition, the Google Design Sprint process 4 was conducted by the book during the first week of the course  and UCD methods in the second week. In the third edition of the course, UCD methods and GDS methods were more integrated .
In all course editions, students with different backgrounds worked on design challenges in teams with ideas that were brand new to them. The UCD Sprint process is based on the experiences gathered through these three editions of the course by asking students to give both quantitative and qualitative feedback on the course content, the structure, and the learning environment. Additionally, an introductory course on the UCD Sprint process was given at the INTERACT 2021 conference  and the NordiCHI 2022 conference . In the UCD Sprint, the step-by-step process of Knapp’s design sprint  is modified and combined with a user research phase that the HCI community knows from User-Centred Design . It is an inclusive process, as the step-by-step process allows team members with various backgrounds to participate in the initial analysis and design process. Since new ideas for software development are explored while conducting the UCD Sprint, it fits particularly well for user-centred exploration of innovative projects in their first stages.
Marta Larusdottir is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Reykjavik University. She has taught HCI courses in Iceland for over 20 years and participated in teaching HCI courses internationally. In her teaching she wants the students to be active in solving projects and understanding the material through developing skills of using UCD methods. She was one of the proposers of UCD Sprint and the responsible teacher of a two-week course when taught in Iceland in 2018 [4, 6]. She was also one of the instructors of the UCD Sprint course at INTERACT 2021  and NordiCHI 2022 . Marta is responsible for introducing the UCD Sprint and the User Group Analysis method. She will also coach the practical work on using that method.
Virpi Roto is a Professor of Practice in Experience Design in the Department of Design, at Aalto University, Finland. She has 20+ years of experience in user-centred design both in industry and academia. She was one of the original proposers of the User-Centred Design Sprint and the responsible teacher of a two-week course that was taught in Helsinki in 2019. She was also one of the instructors in the UCD Sprint course at INTERACT 2021  and NordiCHI 2022 . Virpi is responsible for introducing the UX goals and coaching the participants through practical work on setting UX goals.
Rosa Lanzilotti is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bari (UNIBA), Italy. She teaches and has taught HCI courses both for bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She is also a member of the IVU (Interaction Visualization Usability and UX) Lab at UNIBA, where she coordinates the research on Usability Engineering and UX, which aims at promoting the use of usability and UX practices in software development processes in industry and public institutions. Rosa was one of the instructors in the UCD Sprint course at NordiCHI 2022 . Rosa will be responsible for extending the accessibility for participants.
Ioana Visescu is a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science at Reykjavik University under the supervision of Dr. Marta Larusdottir. With a background in business and technology, and an interest in user experience, her research focuses on design sprints and design methodologies and their applications in academia. Ioana was one of the instructors in the UCD Sprint course at NordiCHI 2022 . Ioana will be responsible for assisting participants during practical work.
 Virpi Roto, Marta Larusdottir, Andrés Lucero, Jan Stage, and Ilja Šmorgun. 2021. Focus, structure, reflection! integrating user-centered design and design sprint, in IFIP Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, 239–258.
 Marta Larusdottir, Virpi Roto, Jan Stage, and Andrés Lucero. 2018. Get realistic!-UCD course design and evaluation, in International Conference on Human-Centred Software Engineering, 15–30.
 Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz. 2016. Sprint: How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days. Simon and Schuster.
 Marta Larusdottir, Virpi Roto, Jan Stage, Andrés Lucero, Ilja Šmorgun. 2019. Balance talking and doing! Using Google Design Sprint to enhance an intensive UCD course in IFIP Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, 95–113.
 Marta Larusdottir, Virpi Roto, Åsa Cajander. 2021. Introduction to User-Centred Design Sprint in IFIP Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, 253–256.
 Marta Larusdottir, Virpi Roto, Rosa Lanzilotti, and Ioana Duta Visescu. 2022. Tutorial on UCD Sprint: Inclusive Process for Concept Design. In Adjunct Proceedings of the 2022 Nordic Human-Computer Interaction Conference (NordiCHI ’22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 19, 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1145/3547522.355890
 International Organization for Standardization. 2019. Ergonomics of human-system interaction: Part 210: Human-centred design for interactive systems.