Start small and build fast with Design Sprint

Yvonne Chua, Co-Founder
10 Mar 2021 • 2 min read

What is design sprint?

Design sprint is a fast paced and agile approach to solving complex challenges, sketching ideas, validating them and gathering user feedback over a span of 5 days. Many successful organizations including Google Ventures and IDEO have adopted design sprints to enter new markets, design new products and services, define marketing strategies and beyond. Because of its versatility, it is suitable for all types of organizations and teams to leverage on it to serve different uses cases. Design sprint can be run using a series of highly effective Design Thinking methodology.

Monday: Understand the problem

Monday is dedicated to defining and understanding the problem.

At the start of the sprint, the team needs to set a long-term goal and a sprint question. If the long-term goal is to increase customer conversion rate (more sign ups), the sprint question can be formulated using “How might we” statement aligned to increasing the conversion rate. Team members can draw out a customer journey map on a whiteboard that depicts various opportunities to achieve the goal. For example, it could be “How might we make the signup form easy to use?” or “How might we shorten the process of signing up?” From various opportunities identified, everyone can collectively agree on final opportunity that has greater potential or impact.

Tuesday: Ideate solutions

Tuesday is about ideating solutions to the problem.

During ideation, people can collaborate across organizational silos, get inspired and brainstorm ideas. Most ideas are conceptualized by re-mixing different ideas and exploring existing alternative solutions to similar problems. For example, you can write down key information about your ideas, doodle rough ideas, sketch different variations of your best idea and create a storyboard. The main goal is to turn abstract concepts into concrete solutions via rapid iteration. Ideas don’t need to be perfect but it needs to illustrate how users interact with it via storyboarding.

Wednesday: Make a decision

Wednesday is about deciding the best solution to prototype.

Everyone will take turns to share their solutions, discuss and review each solution in a group setting. Once everyone has shared their solutions, the next step is to cast a vote for each solution, deciding whether the solution has potential. The solution with the highest vote collectively will advance to the next phase.

Thursday: Develop prototype

Thursday is about developing a tangible prototype from the chosen solution and incorporating the diversity of thoughts from the rest of the team.

By this phase, the team should have a very clear direction of what to prototype. This includes how the prototype will look like, what the basic features are, how will the users use the prototype and more. In terms of actual development, there are many available tools to develop an interactive, high-fidelity and functional prototype.

If the prototype is software related, you can import raw sketches, re-create them with interactive user interfaces and link it across different screens. If the prototype is hardware related, the best approach is to find low cost materials and build the physical prototype.

Friday: Test prototype with users

Friday is about conducting user testing to gather real feedback from targeted users so that your team can champion on user-centric prototype based on data, rather than intuition.

During the testing, the team can organize themselves to distribute workload. Some can lead the user testing to explain what the user testing is about, prepare a few scenarios for users to test certain features, ask open-ended question questions to learn about user behaviors and encourage them to think aloud. Do the users test the feature according to the team’s expected behaviors? What work? What does not work? Others can take down notes, identify insights, areas for improvement and label the user experience as positive, neutral or negative.

In a nutshell, design sprint begins with defining a big challenge on Monday, and by Friday your team would have developed a realistic prototype, gathered immediate feedback and insights. That alone is an impressive productive week, empowering your team to make data-driven decisions and pivot any changes early. It is undebatable the fastest and cheapest way to build products that users actually use. One iteration of design sprint won’t produce a polished end product, but with more iterations it increases confidence in delivering product-market fit solutions faster.

Level up your enterprise agility and innovation process by running design sprints with Thinkspace.