Have you ever wondered what design sprints are? How can they benefit your business or if they’re the right thing for you? Here you can find an overview of what to expect going through a design sprint and what you get at the end.
What's a Design Sprint?
One of the techniques we use at Novoda is Design Sprints. Set over the course of five days, they're a great way to explore product ideas in a collaborative team environment. In just one week, you'll work together in a cross-functional team (stakeholders, product owners, designers, and engineers) to create a solution and gain unique feedback from real people through user testing.
A classic Design Sprint structure consists of five phases: Understand, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Validate. In each phase, we tackle the problem in the same way we build a product, in a multi-disciplinary team.
In the Understand Phase, the team comes together to research and really understand all angles of the sprint goal. This ensures a shared understanding of domain knowledge, business goals and customer insights across the team.
In the Sketching Phase, team members brainstorm solutions individually before sharing ideas with the team. This approach encourages creativity and participation from every team member, ensuring a range of ideas from each discipline.
In the Deciding Phase, the team lays all the ideas on the table and make decisions about the most relevant to develop into a prototype. These ideas will then be defined and outlined for the next stage.
During the Prototyping Phase, the team creates a prototype of the chosen solution, mapping out an agreed user journey before creating a prototype that can later be tested with users.
In the Validation Phase, the team observes users interacting with their solution for the first time. Feedback on the ideas can be collected along with any usability issues to inform ideas for future improvements.
In the Concluding Phase, the Sprint Lead will create a Design Sprint report to celebrate and showcase the deliverables ready to share with team and stakeholders.
Why do we love them?
As you might know, we love team collaboration, so it doesn't come as a surprise when we say that we love Design Sprints. But why do we love it so much?
There is no better place to see beautiful collaboration and creativity come into play than during a design sprint when the team puts their thoughts and energy towards solving a problem. Collaboration is also the key to any successful design sprint.
Working towards a collective goal
The great thing about design sprints is that everyone in that room is working towards the same goal, everyone wants to learn/make the same thing, everyone is there together and that creates a great and exciting environment where everyone is in sync with what they want to achieve.
The amazing quick learnings you get after going through each of the above phases. For example, in the ‘Understand’ phase you’d get to know why we got together and what you want to build. When you need to understand if something works, if it’s the right decision for your product or for your users, this is the way to fully understand and act accordingly. In a week you will test and learn if an idea is worth pursuing, without waiting for months or until the product is in the user’s hands.
How can they benefit you?
Design Sprints will allow your team to tackle fresh new challenges with clear goals to ensure focus and impact for an effective working future. The structured format allows multi-disciplinary teams to work together to explore solutions from a variety of perspectives. Overall, they provide the opportunity for you to explore a wide range of ideas and then test chosen ideas with users.
A strong sprint brief will help you to stay focused and finish the week with a proposed solution. The sprint itself will take a working week, and should be full of new information, new ideas, lots of open discussion and active collaboration from all participants.
By the end of the sprint, you have a clickable prototype of the proposed solution, which has been tested with users. Observations and feedback are concluded and improvements recommended for future development.
You can then use the knowledge and results of this design sprint to inform a more detailed project management proposal.
What do you get at the end?
Following the end of the Design Sprint, it’s time to focus on the Design Sprint report. This is then presented to external stakeholders. So at this point, you’ll have a unified understanding of Design Sprints, a clickable prototype, design assets, a Design Sprint report with presentation and handover. You'll also walk out with a backlog full of stories that can be prioritised to inform future ideas and excitement about the future and you'll have an idea what you're team can do together and the great potential of team collaboration.
As a Product Designer, I’ve tried and tested many different techniques within many projects and I highly recommend Design Sprints for all the reasons above, but mainly because they’re highly customizable depending on teams, projects and different problems.