How to do a Design Sprint

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Running a design sprint

Let’s say you’ve got a problem you’re not quite sure how to solve, or have an idea for a solution and you want to test it. Normally, in an Agile environment, you’d validate your idea by building a mini version of your product, launch it, measure the results and then take those learnings to iterate and improve the product, right?

You’re probably nodding your head right now, but actually you should be shaking it.

The above scenario invests a lot of time and money into an idea that might not be viable, which makes it a risky investment. Design sprints help mitigate the risks of developing a bad idea by testing and reducing the number of assumptions we have around customer needs, business needs, and viability.

Design sprints work well because they unapologetically pull apart a concept, challenging our assumptions about what our customers want and if the idea actually solves their problems. By gathering feedback from real users, we are able to create a much stronger, more viable solution that we know our customers will use.

When should you run a design sprint?

• You’ve identified an area in the business that needs improvement but are not sure know how to go about solving the problem.

• You might have a new idea in mind but don’t know if the idea will be useful to your customers.

• You might have a product already in place but do not know how to improve it with new features.

Using a sketching technique to share ideas on paper.

Using a sketching technique to share ideas on paper.

Why will you want to use it?

• A design sprint helps our clients make a lot of progress in a small amount of time: they get results fast.

• It gets all of the stakeholders in the same room at the same time, which increases their focus and helps clients agree on decisions because they’re all in the same room.

• It helps teams save time and money from learning the conclusions before building the product.

• Design sprints also help when you’re struggling to prioritise a whole lot of ideas or get consensus on a direction.

The first thing we focus on is is understating the business and it customers problems, goals and needs.

The first thing we focus on is is understating the business and it customers problems, goals and needs.

The traditional design sprint is made up of a few components from design thinking methodology:

5 days of design thinking

5 days of design thinking

Day 1 – We focus on understanding the business and its outcomes; what it is trying to achieve, understanding their users, and what their goals, motivations and interests are.

Day 2 – We take all the insights we gained in the first day and turn it to an artefact that will help solve the problems. We get everybody thinking outside of the box, encouraging creative ideas in a variety of ways.

As an example, we may use a ‘crazy eights’ sketching technique, in which individuals sketch ideas quickly on paper within a defined time. Participants then share their sketches with the team, explaining the idea and their thoughts behind it. The great thing about this technique is that solutions or features can be shared quickly, and popular sketches are chosen to be refined further.

Day 3 – You will have a lot of ideas written down. This is the time to review all of them and vote for the best options as a team – that way the team focuses on the best option that will be the most valuable and useful.

Day 4 – The design sprint is the entire process from the idea to testing it. So on the last day, depending on the product and the people in the room, we will create a prototype; from sketching it and testing it, to building and coding a prototype, we can also make a clickable prototype. It’s all about understanding how people are going to interact with this product, understanding all of the work that we did in the previous days, and transforming it into a product that will make a change for the business and the users. Prototyping prevents us from investing a lot of time, money, or resources before validating the idea.

Day 5 – The last day focuses on validating the idea, testing the prototype on different users, getting feedback and gaining a better understanding of what should we keep or change.

During the design sprint, we get a better understanding of the user and gain empathy, but we also gain understanding around the business; at the end of the day we want to solve problems that not only create value to your users, but also for your business.

Design sprints usually take 5 days to run, depending on the desired business needs. At Pixel Fusion we tailor the traditional Google Ventures design sprint to offer three-to-five-day sprint options in order to answer business questions by designing, prototyping and validating ideas with our clients. We use a collaborative approach rooted in design thinking methodology.

Talk to our friendly Customer Service Manager, SJ Lee to learn more about design sprints and what we can do for your business.