Originally developed by Google Ventures (GV), Design Sprint is a five-day process for rapidly answering critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with customers that have been used in many great startups and companies.
Design Sprints take traditional design thinking methodologies and compress them into a five-day process of rapid ideation. It is flexible and can be used to solve a range of problems and address opportunities, such as:
- Design better products and services by pointing out the right questions in a focused time frame.
- Generate new creative ideas for solving problems, instead of relying to the old ones.
- Get feedback quickly from friends, family or customers to make sure that you’re building what they want or need.
Who should use Design Sprints?
Design Sprints have been used by the smallest startups to the biggest tech companies.
- Facebook used Design Sprints to create a cleaner-looking design for their platform.
- Blue Bottle Coffee Company used Design Sprints to create a new customer experience, ensuring their coffee was fresh and delicious.
- Netflix has also used design sprints with clients like DreamWorks Animation to come up with ideas for TV shows.
In addition to startups and tech companies, the Sprint framework is embraced by government agencies, NGOs, and corporations — such as Nike and GE — to innovate faster than ever.
How does a Design Sprint work?
The Design Sprint process breaks down into a series of tasks that are designed to be completed in five days (or less). The sprint is split up based on the day. In a brief the activity outline will be :
- On Monday
you’ll map out the problem and pick an important place to focus.
- On Tuesday
you’ll sketch competing solutions on paper.
- On Wednesday
you’ll make difficult decisions and turn your ideas into testable hypothesis.
- On Thursday
you’ll develop a high-fidelity prototype.
- On Friday
you’ll test the prototype with real live humans.
And it can be further breakdown into the following details :
Set the stage
Before the sprint begins, you’ll need to have the right challenge and the right team. You’ll also need time and space to conduct your sprint.
- Morning: Set long-term goals and map that shows general user journey. Then you’ll make a map of the challenge.
- Afternoon: talk to experts on parts of the problem, and interview them to improve the map challenge. Finally, pick a target: an ambitious but manageable piece of the problem that you can solve in one week.
- Morning: A review of existing ideas to remix and improve. Lightning demos (solutions from your / other companies, tours of products) and draw good examples on whiteboard.
- Afternoon: Sketching, following a four-step process that emphasizes critical thinking over artistry. Taking notes, jotting down ideas, crazy 8s, finished sketch (solution). Aggregate all the sketches. You’ll also begin planning Friday’s customer test by recruiting customers that fit your target profile.
- Morning: you and your team will have a stack of solutions. Thus, you’ll critique each solution, and decide which ones have the best chance of achieving your long-term goal.
- Afternoon: put concepts head to head in a rumble. combine sketches + map from the first day into a storyboard, a step-by-step plan for your prototype.
- Morning: Adopt the storyboard into a prototype by picking the right tools (like Keynote or Figma), divide and conquer and start prototyping. By focusing on the customer-facing surface of your product or service, you can finish your prototype in just one day.
- Afternoon: Gather the team, trial run the stitched prototype, review and test
- Morning: Bring in customers and interview them with the prototype, learn by watching them react to your prototype. The rest of the team will be watching and taking notes.
- Afternoon: At the end of the day, you’ll know how far you have to go, and you’ll know just what to do next.
When should I use Design Sprints?
Design Sprints are a perfect fit for anyone who wants to quickly make the best decisions, launch new ideas that haven’t been explored before or get quick feedback from the people they’re building their product or service for.
This method is suitable to use when you’re on a tight timeline or working in a super agile environment. In comparison, traditional design thinking is more open-ended which can take as much time as you need to solve problems from scratch.
To conclude, the Design Sprint gives a shortcut for a team to learn without building and launching. It feels like a superpower: You can fast-forward into the future to see your finished product and customer reactions, before making any expensive commitments.