Design Sprint - Everything You Need to Know About It

January 30, 2019

Athar Majeed

This article will provide your detailed information about Design Sprint, when to use it and why to use it. Read to know more.

What is design sprint?

According to GV, design sprint gives teams a shortcut to learning without building and launching. With such ability, challenges can be broken down and solutions found in a shorter period without going through the costly and lengthy product launching and building phases.

The sprint was developed by Jake Knapp who had it expounded in his book –Sprint: How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days –that was published in 2016.

So how does it work? The sprint, as per its initial form, uses design thinking structured as five phases. These phases are distributed into the five working days, with each needing to be completed at the end of the assigned date.

Ever since its development, many teams have adopted its use. AJ&Smart, specifically, has worked with Knapp to further develop the concept. There are many videos on YouTube in which they test the strategy and explain the different chapters of the book.

Design sprint 2.0

These tests were meant to determine the best practices in implementing the strategy and determining how to make it more efficient and eventually Design Sprint 2.0 was developed in 2018. This model is meant to improve efficiency by reducing the time taken for the whole process. For example in the second update, Friday was scrapped off .

This is how the two models compare.

The Design Sprint:

Design Sprint 2.0
Design Sprint

The Design Sprint 2.0:

Design Sprint 2.0
Design Sprint 2.0

With the second option, the more is achieved within the four days thus creating time for other projects or for the benefit of a client.

Read Also: 5 Important Things to Know About Product Design

Steps of design sprint 2.0

The first day of the design sprint 2.0 involves defining the problem. Slight conversations and ideas of what is possible are shared. Later on, a desired and attainable goal is decided upon.

In the initial sprint model, mapping the challenge and formulating possible solutions are separated into two days. However, in 2.0, these activities are combined. Therefore, at the end of the day, the team should have a good understanding of the problem and have possible alternatives for resolving it.

The second day involves determining the preferred solution from the suggestions. Here, you can debate and vote on each until the best alternative is arrived at.

On the third day, you now use the complex technical skills of your team to design a prototype built from the client’s point of view. This approach eliminates many technical aspects while maintaining usability, which will facilitate testing.

Now that you have the prototype, it is time to engage your potential users or customers. They are given an opportunity to interact with the product and then asked structured and comprehensive questions about it.

At the end of the process, it is expected that the team will deliver a full report of the findings from the testing phase, storyboards, journey maps, and alternatives presented. Furthermore, it is important to provide the hypotheses associated with the sprint and report on whether they were satisfied by the alternative chosen.

Where To use design sprint

Now that we know how to use Design Sprint 2.0, where can we apply it? Some possible prospects include launching new products, or revising existing ones.

Challenges associated with design sprint

It is notable that this approach seems rushed. In truth, it actually is. The time constraint means that only certain products can use the sprint method. Therefore, before thinking of using it, the challenge should be evaluated to ensure it fits the required criteria.

The first sign that your product is not compatible is if any of the steps involved requires more than a day to complete. Therefore, if developing a working prototype, testing or evaluating a challenge is a lengthy process, do not use design sprint.

Another important consideration is if information surrounding the challenge is not sufficient. According to Wikipedia, design thinking is a “cognitive, strategic, and practical” process. Therefore, its efficiency depends on how much information is available. The sprint is meant to reduce risk, and building on uncertainty increases them, contrary to what is intended.

The last important indicator of the sprint not being suitable for a challenge is if it is not a design problem. Design sprint, both the initial one and the 2.0, all rely on design thinking. This makes it difficult to include in other spheres not related to the give discipline.

Why should you use design sprint?

Now that we know what design sprint is, we should explore why it is used and the reason behind its growing popularity. What advantages does it offer the design specialist or the client?

For one, we cannot argue against the efficiency of the sprint in saving time. By eliminating the launching and building phases of a product, it becomes easier and quicker to develop a working prototype and test it. It has been said that it can help to complete six months of work in one week. This improves convenience for the client and the design team itself.

The benefits of cutting out the launching and the building phases come in from the fact that risks are eliminated easily. Going through these phases and having to track back because of an issue noted very late causes inconvenience. Why waste time and resources only to find an error that undermines an entire project?  Opting for design sprint gives you an opportunity to arrive at the best alternative without all that hustle.

Final thoughts

Lastly, design sprint is user experience based. Therefore, the once the given challenge is addressed, the eventual design can be used to develop a market ready product. Ideally, the sprint aligns with UX culture. Meaning that all success factors should aim to maximize the level of satisfaction afforded the intended target.

The importance of the target customer in this equation is observed in the final phase of the sprint. The testing phase is intended to allow the actual clients to interact with the product. Findings from these interactions are used to determine if the challenge was addressed.

Once you have learnt the basics of design sprints, you can start implementing it for different projects. It is suggested that it can help with launching new products, improving existing ones, combining functionalities, and determining the various opportunities one can consider for a given project.


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