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January 14, 2021

What is design sprint and what type of projects is it suitable for

What´s Design Sprint?

Design Sprint allows us to build and test a prototype in just five days. There are many startups and tech companies that use it before making decisions about new products.

Where did come from?

The person who created Design Sprint is Jake Knapp. In his book, he defines himself as a process geek and explains how he had tried many problem-solving techniques over the years, but only when working at Google, he faced two different projects, one for the design of the priority mailbox in Gmail and another one for the design of a video conferencing web app, where he realised that the ideas had flowed better than in other creative processes and the main reasons were that they had more time to develop the ideas individually and the deadlines were so tight that they forced them to be focused. With these two ingredients, individual work, and little execution time, he began to design what would be a new way of working that he called Sprint.

Knapp realized that sprints worked. Ideas were built, tested, and launched and most of them used to succeed. He sees sprints as a way to solve big problems, during the process a great volume of work is done at a high speed and it is also fun. As its creator and many people who have participated in Design Sprints say, you have to experience it for yourself to understand it thoroughly.

What type of projects is a Design Sprint most suitable for?

Design Sprint is especially suitable for those projects that, due to their complexity, are a challenge in themselves, because it helps to focus, prioritize ideas and begin to build a prototype quickly without making large financial investments.

It is very interesting to apply it in those projects that are high risk because their development involves making a large investment or because there is not enough time. Design Sprint can be an excellent starting point that provides information on the feasibility of the project in just five days.

Its application is also ideal for projects that do not make progress or are stuck, DS helps to solve the problems that have caused the project to stop and can give it a new push and start working from a new perspective.

What roles are usually involved?

It is not recommended to have too many people participating in a Design Sprint. The ideal number would be 7 participants. If there are more, there is a risk of wasting time with debates that could stop the progress at the appropriate speed. During the five days of development of the Design Sprint, all stakeholders must be present, each one solving the problem of the area they dominate and willing to answer any doubts that may arise from other team members. The roles involved are the following:

The Sprintmaster

Is the person who does all works on the pre-work, organising the dynamics, and will guide the team throughout the five days of the Design Sprint. Once the sprint is over, the facilitator will be in charge of documenting all the findings and information from the workshop.

The decider

Is the person who will make and prioritise the decisions. Although all participants in the Design Sprint have the ability to vote, the decision-maker will have the “star vote”, and will be responsible for the final decision made.

The team

Whenever possible, should be formed by people from the most relevant branches or departments in the business ( customer service/sales….).

What is done each day during the Sprint?

Monday

We start by presenting the challenge or problem to be solved and the day is dedicated to mapping it out, understanding it, asking questions (HMW), and conducting interviews with experts in the field who can solve all those doubts. By the end of the first day, the main objective to work on and the strategy to follow will be already decided.
The Design Sprint can also be carried out remotely, if that is the case, the boards from the first day would look like these.

Tuesday

The next day is dedicated to provide solutions for the objective set on the previous day. We will seek inspiration and share it with the team through “Lightning Demos”. We will make sketches, starting critical thinking, and leaving aesthetics aside. Finally, we will design the wireframes based on those sketches.

Wednesday

We will create an “art museum” in which we will present all the wireframes designed the day before and we will decide which prototype will be the one chosen among all those proposed. Once we select the idea that will be carried out, we will continue the storyboard in which we will place the user who will use said service.

Thursday

We will spend the day creating a prototype as realistic as possible so that we can test it during the next day with users.

Friday

We will carry out the tests with users. Jacob Nielsen explains in this article that, it does not contribute much to run tests with more than five users, the norm is that after the fifth user, same errors are repeated, the same type of difficulties are found and the contributions are very similar. Therefore, running a smaller number of tests provides enough information to be able to iterate and the budget will also be lower.

Resources to plan and conduct a Design Sprint

Trello Template to organize the five days of the workshop.

Miro Template created by the design consultancy JustMad, it also includes a very useful checklist to mark tasks solved during the sprint.

Template designed by Wayfair with the explanation of the entire process from beginning to end with very interesting tips to facilitate Design Sprint sessions.

Summarizing…

When a Design Sprint ends most of its participants are both exhausted and proud of all the work they have done during the five days. Usually, the general feeling is that great teamwork has been achieved; all participants forget about the hierarchies during the sessions, contributing equally and walking in the same direction.

Running a Design Sprint is usually tremendously motivating both individually and as a team. It also opens up the minds of participants, obtaining very inspiring ideas.

 

Author
Diana López
UX Designer

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