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TOP Terms

The TOP team has adopted these terms from the civic tech and product development community for use in the TOP sprint framework. Below are some key terms that are referenced in the toolkit:

Tech teams present a prototype of their product for feedback.

During the data exploration sprint phase, teams explore federal government open datasets to identify data they can use in their sprint products. During the data exploration milestone at the end of that phase, teams connect with federal data stewards to present what they’ve learned and ask questions about how to find and work with federal data.

Data stewards are experts on specific open datasets or data tools (e.g., who help tech teams identify federal open datasets to use in their products, and answer technical questions about the data.

The final milestone of the sprint process, in which teams present their ‘MVP’ to the sprint leaders to culminate the sprint. Their MVP should include working features and be ready for use by an end user, but can be improved upon in the future, especially after receiving user feedback.

A written description of a compelling problem that teams will work to solve during a sprint.

The tool or solution that a tech team builds during a sprint.

The four to six weeks before sprints launch in which sprint leaders recruit multi-sector organizations to fulfill key sprint roles.

The 12 - 14 week timeline in which tech teams build data-driven solutions to urgent problems identified by federal agencies and advocacy organizations.

A group of colleagues who are recruited by the agency within their agency to frame the problem statement, manage the TOP sprint, and work on day-to-day operations such as leading milestone sessions and coordinating with tech teams.

A group of people, typically from a tech company or university, who build a product through the sprint — whether new or within an existing product or platform — that uses open data to solve a problem statement.

Teams conduct user research and present what they’ve learned about their end user to cross-sector experts for feedback.

Design Terms

These terms are borrowed from the design community. Click the term for additional resources and the source of each definition. Below are some key terms that are referenced in the toolkit:

An informal demonstration or presentation of a tech product in progress, usually with some early version of working features.


The person for whom a tech product is designed.


A product with enough features to attract early-adopter customers and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle.


A sketch that represents the way a product will look.


The practice of testing how easy a design is to use for a group of representative users. It usually involves observing users as they attempt to complete tasks and can be done for different types of designs, from user interfaces to physical products.


A path a user may take to reach their goal when using a particular digital tool. User journeys are used in designing digital tools to identify the different ways to enable the user to achieve their goal as quickly and easily as possible.


Interviews, focus groups, user tests, and other techniques conducted to understand the target audience of a product, or ‘end users’. This includes their goals, needs, interests, and preferences. User research helps teams produce designs that improve users’ working practices and lives. User research also involves the continuous evaluation of the impact of designs on the users, not only during the design and development phase but after long-term use, too.


An initial design of a website or app at the structural level. A wireframe is commonly used to lay out content and functionality on a page which takes into account user needs and user journeys. Wireframes are used early in the development process to establish the basic structure of a page before visual design and content is added.