Creating a successful product is hard, however with Design Sprints, it doesn’t have to be time or cost consuming.

What is a Design Sprint?

When we use the phrase sprints, it’s easy to confuse this with agile sprints: short periods of development where a cross-section of the product team comes together to build a particular feature, screen, or section. However, that couldn’t be more wrong.

“An effective product strategy with problem solving and critical thinking at the heart enabling fast failing and fast success.”

Design sprints were invented by Google Ventures as a five day method to quickly problem solve and validate an area, or feature, of a product.

  • Day 1: Define — Does everyone understand exactly what the problem is?
  • Day 2: Ideate — Work collaboratively to form ideas to solve the problem
  • Day 3: Decide — Choose which idea to prototype
  • Day 4: Prototype — Create a realistic prototype
  • Day 5: Test — Test with customers, have you solved the problem?

Why should I do a Design Sprint?

A typical product life cycle looks something like the below,

Image for post

Just one loop of the cycle could easily take one year and thousands of pounds. After you launch, you find you’ve got some big assumptions that haven’t panned out or your customers aren’t using some of the features, all of this results in even more unnecessary cost.

Compare this to a product life cycle using design sprints,

Image for post

By focussing on one problem at a time and testing your solutions you are able to spot incorrect assumptions and remove redundant features. This allows you to, not only build the right product, but also to push to market quicker.

Where do I start?

Before you jump straight into a design sprint, there are a couple of things that need to be done first.

1. Frame your problems

It’s likely there will be more than one problem so you need to understand what these are and the impact they have on you or your customers.

A problem can be anything from your product analytics team noticing a large reduction in user retention or your customer service team noting a high percentage of complaints about a particular part of your service.

Choose the problem that has the most impact, save the rest for the next Design Sprint.

2. Choose your team

To get the most out of your design sprint it is important to have a variety of people in the room. As the late technology guru Steve Jobs said,

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”

The same sentiment applies to your design sprint. Assembling a focused group with multiple voices, opinions and expertise in one room allows you to approach each challenge from a number of different perspectives. This lets you consider how much impact a problem or potential solution can have throughout your business.

A carefully chosen team also lets you create robust solutions faster. With the key decision-makers in the room, you don’t have to wait for ‘Dave in tech and Sandra in customer relations’ to get back to you.

  1. Facilitator — Keeps things on track
  2. Decider — Has the final say
  3. UX Expert — Provides guidance on UX principles and performs user testing
  4. UI Expert — Helps build the prototype and provides guidance on UI principles
  5. Tech Expert — Ensures solutions are technically feasible
  6. Customer Service Representative — Customer expert
  7. Financial — Helps to demonstrate the cost vs return for the solution

3. Choose your tools

Design Sprints are very fast paced so preparation is key, before the day starts you should answer the following questions:

  1. Are we doing this remote or in person?
  2. Do we need video conference software? If so, is it working for everyone?
  3. Do we have customers to test with?
  4. Do we need a virtual whiteboard? Does everyone know how to use it?
  5. Do we need post-its and pens? Do we have enough?
  6. Do we need a white board?

If you have any more questions, feel free to get in touch and join one of our interactive workshops.

During each session, I run through the design sprint exercises we’ve used to help companies and product teams build better products and get to market faster.