Wearable art.


Could NailSnaps capture a larger audience through an improved multi-device commerce platform and disrupt an $8.5 billion dollar industry?

Photo Credit: NailSnaps


Angel Anderson, Co-Founder & CEO
Sarah Heering, Co-Founder & COO
Kelly Nakawatase, UX Design
Victoria Cail, VP Engineering
Felice Martin, Customer Happiness Specialist

Jason Schoch, Co-Facilitator & Interviewer
Sean Locke, Co-Facilitator


5 Delta/Plus exercises completed
5 Usability Testers
1 Sketching Soundtrack: Yacht Rock
1 Fedora (worn on two separate days)
1 Gratuitous Wardrobe Change
1 Additional Post-it color requested


Elemental approached NailSnaps with the proposal of running a design sprint focused on a challenge they were currently working on. Upon meeting with the NailSnaps team ahead of the sprint, it was clear that there were a number of possible directions the sprint could go. They were eager to get through day one and focus in on a target.

Avocado design nail wraps from NailSnaps

With a beta product on the market, investor buy-in and a spot in the coveted Grid110 accelerator program, NailSnaps was finding product market fit. However, they noticed a large piece of desktop traffic wasn’t converting as expected. A few ideas were brought up, but the main hypothesis focused on the lack of a seamless experience between the devices in the platform. Their iOS app was doing the heavy lifting while the desktop touchpoint wasn’t feeling the love.


Building out their web presence quickly stood out during day one as the main sprint objective. NailSnaps had found commerce validation through integration with Shopify, but it was now time to think custom & scale. In addition, the product subscription questions just wouldn’t go away. After some deliberation, we decided to run both concepts through the sprint process.

1. Design a web presence that compliments the iOS experience, closing the loop on a unified eco-system.
2. Test the concept of a product subscription business model.

1. Nail art enthusiasts
2. Women who enjoy having nice nails and a little bit of fun.

Success Metric
Our metric for success was collection usability test reactions as well as getting a test customer to click on “buy” at any point during the session.

Brand Strategy & Voice
The personality of NailSnaps is fun and creative. The typical customer pays attention to the details of her nails, yet isn’t afraid to not take herself so seriously.

The Big Idea
Was it time to broaden an iOS app into a full-blown eco-system? The process of product maturity and the steps it takes was the big idea and theme for this sprint.

Solution: Design Sprint

For this client collaboration we chose to run the exact sequence of Google Ventures 5-Day Design Sprint as defined by Jake Knapp’s new book, right down to their detailed recommendations on appropriate lunch choices.

“I was nervous about a design sprint that would tie up all resources for a whole week but it accelerated our thinking on projects that were already in motion.”


The faster we can help a client get clear answers to their most important questions the faster they can act on this intelligence. The sprint format with its’ intensive and structured approach to creativity moves products forward quickly  and accurately. Real feedback from real users always trumps hunches and guesswork.

Documented here in great detail are the various phases of the sprint process and the steps we took along the way. We’re proud of the work done by the team and value the insights we uncovered.

Co-Founders Angel Anderson & Sarah Heering review the Solution Sketches on Day Three

Day Zero: Set the Stage

Challenge: Start with a big problem
Before engaging in our design sprint with NailSnaps, we met with the team at our offices in WeWork. We talked about the intense demands of a design sprint and dove a little into their business and goals.

Team: Get a Decider, a Facilitator, and a diverse team
With a client team of only three, the establishment of roles was not a difficult process to sort out. The only catch was with both co-founders as active participants, who would be the decider? We ended up assigning the role to both individuals which created a lively back-and-forth during decision making.

“Elemental was fantastic at guiding our team through the process and helping us stay on point.”


Time and Space: Schedule five days and find the right room

War Room ready for the Design Sprint

With our seven member war room still intact from the sprint with Vrai & Oro the week before, our sprint space was ready to go. A new round of Amazon gift cards and fresh snacks was all we needed to get under way.

Day One: Map

Start at the End: Agree to a long-term goal
We began with an exercise of articulating the long-term goal of NailSnaps. Much of the conversation focused on the language surrounding “nail art”. Clearly NailSnaps understood that they aren’t offering the kind of time-intensive and highly detailed processes that many people consider to be the hallmark of nail art. They’re offering an easier, faster, and less toxic way to get the same results. So the goal was extended beyond the creative to encompass sharability and wearability. “The best way to create, share, and wear nail art”. This became the explicit goal that we referred to through the sprint to maintain our focus as we made choices and decisions on what to prototype.

Sprint Questions: What could go wrong?
Customer abandons purchase in the preview stage.
One time sale (novelty).
Bad nail wrap application experience.
Crushed by larger competitor.
Lack of embrace by nail artists.

Sprint Questions: What could go right?
High #s (of daily active users).
Great press.
Revenue growth.
High customer LTV (loyalty).
Global nail empire.
Acquisition by a larger player.
Retail distribution.

Map: Diagram the problem

After eliciting a larger group of actors in the NailSnaps world, we focused on the Buyer & the Creator as the key players. The team began mapping the large-scale steps that each of these players take as they interact with NailSnaps. We discovered parallels between the actors and complimentary processes that support a Buyer becoming a Creator on the platform.

Ask the Experts: Interview your teammates and other experts
We interviewed the team to understand the NailSnaps brand, their experience with customers, the significant technological challenges facing them. We further adjusted the map to better reflect the commentary we were hearing.

How Might We?
As we heard from the experts within the NailSnaps team we took HMW notes. By reframing the risks & assumptions into positive opportunities by using the How Might We? methodology the team converged on the key areas to focus on with a prototype. Some of those questions included How Might We:
_offer more “prefab” designs in the store?
_increase purchases of the prefab designs?
_improve the customers 1st time application on nails?
_encourage happy customers to share their nails on Instagram and other social platforms?

Target: Choose a focus for the sprint
Through the preceding exercises we converged on the web store purchase flow as the key target for our prototype.

Day Two: Sketch

Remix and Improve: Look for old ideas and inspiration
For the Lightning Demos, each of the core team as well as the Co-Facilitators, presented a range of inspirational examples from other businesses. We looked at Threadless, Shoes of Prey, Airbnb, Design by Humans, Snaptee, HidrateSpark, Forever21, Colourpop, Casetify, Fabletics, ReelIt, WeWork, Yotpo, GettyEndless, Mr. Porter, Noun Project, Iconiery, Restoration Hardware, VinylMePlease, and Tattly.

Some of the ideas that came out of these demos included:
_adding a map of NailSnaps artists around the globe
_various offer strategies for email signups
_limited time offer with a countdown timer

Divide or Swarm?
Although we agreed upon a specific target,  we wanted to capture honest reactions to a revised navigation structure for the entire site. Honest user reactions to a more current organization of their offering, including gift certificates and a monthly subscription offering, was the goal. We agreed to individually work on solutions for the Shop, Gift Certificates, Subscription, and Create, while each of us sketched competing solutions for the homepage.

Sketch: Put detailed solutions to paper

The NailSnaps team at work on Solution Sketching

We put the team through a series of sketching exercises to encourage divergent solutions. The first step was to review the Big Ideas contained in the Lightning Demos and make notes on the ideas that would go on to inform later solution sketches. Next we roughed out ideas, keeping things low-fidelity. Following that we gave the team the Crazy 8s assignment of rapidly iterating on their design ideas. After a break we resumed and spent the rest of the afternoon developing solution sketches. By the end of the day each of us had solution sketches for a revised NailSnaps homepage plus a sketch for a key supporting page. We put these drawings away until the next morning.

Stitching together the InVision Prototype on Day Four

Day Three: Decide

Decide: Choose the best solutions without groupthink

Solution Sketch for the Create section of the site

On the third day of our sprint with NailSnaps we moved to another room to evaluate the solution sketches each of us had generated on the previous afternoon. We hung the designs gallery style around the room to allow folks to evaluate the designs on their own merits. Next we provided adhesive dots for the team to mark interesting parts of the designs, and sticky notes to add questions. Following these exercises, done in silence, one of our Facilitators offered a brief narration of the solution and it’s ideas, then the team addressed the design, and lastly we heard from the designer who explained anything that was missed and answered any remaining questions. The last exercise of this morning was to run a straw poll and supervote to determine which of the homepage solutions resonated with the group, and what next steps to take on the supporting page designs.

Storyboard: Make a plan for the prototype
In the afternoon we began storyboarding our prototype. Before we got started, we worked out a prioritized Task List that we hoped our testers would successfully navigate on Day Five. Explicitly setting achievement goals helped us plan the storyboard itself, as well as see clearly what we were leaving out. Making sure these trade-offs were not a surprise farther down the line was key to managing expectations and driving focus on what was to be addressed.

Next we worked though the 11-part storyboard, that outlined all of the screens and states of screens as we moved from the opening scene (a Google search result) to various instances of the online shop. We spent a lot of time bringing over components of the solution sketches to the storyboard until we all felt confident that we had a detailed-enough plan to execute the following day.

Day Four: Prototype

Prototype: Find the right tools, then divide and conquer
The most intense day of our sprint begins with reminding the team that we are building a real-enough façade to garner honest reactions from our testers. It’s not necessary to make every component active. It’s enough to give the appearance of being a real site.

With this sprint we tried something different in the prototyping phase. Working alongside the designer from NailSnaps we agreed to build the prototype on InVision and design in Sketch. So we went about assigning roles to the team to cover design, image research, writing, and linking the screens together. With a relatively small team we each had to hustle to complete the prototype on time.

Sean Locke, Kelly Nakawatase, Angel Anderson, Sarah Heering at work on the prototype

“You don’t need a fully functional product—you just need a real-looking façade to which customers can react.”


We completed the prototype with no time to spare and wrapped up Day Four with a very realistic prototype for NailSnaps that we were all excited to see tested the following day.

Day Five: Test

Small Data: Get big insights from just five customers
Five one-hour interview sessions, with breaks to organize observations, was the goal for day five. By solely utilizing our own network for this sprint, we found five individuals matching our qualifications and eager to participate. In targeting women who enjoyed exploring fun nail art, we hoped to learn about their main drivers and pain points in buying online.

“Our team gained invaluable insights watching real users go through the prototype.”


Interview: Ask the right questions

The Sprint Team taking notes on a Usability Test Session from the War Room

Aside from testing the usability of the prototype, the interview sessions were focused on contextual inquiry primarily around nail art, manicures and comfort with technology. We wanted to get a sense of the customers current practices, struggles and solutions to keeping their nails looking good. What competitors had they turned to and what homemade hacks had they devised to keeping their nails looking their best?

Learn: Find patterns and plan the next step
Upon reviewing the results of the sessions, the team found a number of helpful insights to build upon. The online marketplace tested quite well with customers clicking the “buy” buttons in numerous places. Some included concepts (i.e. a map for community perspective) seemed to garner interest, but didn’t clearly pan out with the directions given. These would fall lower on the list of priorities.

The other main point of interest was around the subscription service. Again, there was interest in this option as presented, but numerous insights gave the team a direction for future iterations that would greatly amplify this offering. Some suggestions were around taxonomy issues of how the service was named and organized in the navigation, while some were strategic issues around the exclusivity of the designs and sizes offered.

In the end, the team walked away from the session with clear ideas on what to build now, how to improve the current experience, and details on what to clarify and enhance for further testing.

Prototype Screens

Select screens from the InVision prototype


Regarding the hypothesis of a robust online commerce platform, the results were quite clear. The customers universally found a great amount of value in creating and ordering their custom nails in the moment on the desktop.

“The five-day sprint yielded a great interactive prototype that’s helped us translate our ideas to our dev team much more efficiently than an old fashioned requirements doc.”


The results surrounding the subscription model were a little less declarative. To be sure, there was interest in the offering, but questions built up. The team ended up gaining valuable insight into the details most coveted by consumers when thinking about a subscription option. While the final decision on that piece was inconclusive, direction on further iterations and tests on specifics were a welcome end.


Having ran a successful sprint the previous week, we entered this session with a higher level of confidence. We recognized that all sprints will be different—which is one of the highlights of the process—but we felt comfortable in our knowledge of the demands. Nevertheless, we began our second sprint with one main question…could we build upon a successful prior experience and make the new one better?

From the very beginning, we knew this experience would be different. For starters, the client team consisted of three main participants as opposed to six from the last sprint. Was that going to make a difference?

“We got tons of actionable insights in just five days.”


Luckily, as with our first sprint, the client was enthusiastic about participating and possessed encyclopedic knowledge of their product’s landscape. This made up for the smaller number of participants. Also, during the “ask the experts” section of day one, we were fortunate enough to hear from two additional key members of the team that rounded out the engineering and customer experience perspectives.

Through this second time around, we played a little with the format, adding a few elements to the process that we feel helped propel the creation process in a more disciplined fashion. It made a significant difference in the prototyping organization which afforded us the opportunity to create a higher fidelity test product.