Design Sprint Methodologies 🏃‍♀️

How you can quickly create and test your designs
May 26, 2023

‍You think you have the next killer idea for your product but you’re also not quite sure if it’s viable, you’d really like to test it out but are afraid this might cost you a lot of resources.

The question now becomes, how can you quickly and inexpensively come up with a prototype and feedback on the feasibility of your idea ? That’s exactly where the Design Sprint Methodology comes into play, as it provides a possible solution to this problem.

What is a design sprint?

A design sprint is a time-based activity that focuses on developing the design of a product. It involves part of the design team and a few other members to help design or redesign a product. This kind of session is great if you want to make sure the design of your new product works.

The Sprint methodology takes its roots in the Agile methodology and aims at providing a framework to test design solutions within a short time frame, typically a few days.

The approach provides a timeline of 5 days for a full cycle, however, if teams are not complete or if the people in play have experience, the sprint can be conducted in 48 hours. All that’s important here is that there is enough time for experiments. The approach we’ll present can be adapted to better suit your team, just make sure to leave enough time for experimenting.

Why should you try a design sprint?

One of the main reasons why you should adopt this approach is that it makes you save a lot of time and resources by “skipping” the Build phase and the Launch Phase, which would initially be the construction of your project and its sale.

The sprint methodology uses prototypes and feedback to shortcircuit these two phases, the point is to get a direct feedback on your idea so as to improve on the idea before spending more resources on it.

The approach worjs particularly well in several environments :

  • You need a quick solution
  • The challenge is complicated and large
  • Your team is stuck

These work best because they benefit the most from the accelerated process, either by favoring creativity and an agile mindset or by getting feedback directly on your solution.

How can you get started?

The question now becomes, how can I use this principle to accelerate my product development ?

We’ll present a 5 day version of the sprint but the ideas can be moulded in a shorter time-frame. It’s also important for the participants to clear their week in order to focus entirely on the sprint.

Monday - Map

  • Find a long term goal you want to achieve
  • Create a detailed map of what you’re trying to solve and how you will go about solving it
  • Find experts to help you check your strategy
  • Choose the target you’ll focus on during the rest of the sprint

The long term goal will help you stick to your plan and find ways of achieving it, try and make that goal precise and measurable, it could be something like this :

We want to increase our monthly sales by 50%

Now imagine where you’ll struggle, what’s stopping you from reaching that goal ? The answer could be that new customers don’t find you organically online.

Take that problem, start by its endpoint and turn it into a question: how do we make sure we reach new clients where they are ?

Now plan your roadmap, in our case, how is a user going to come to us, maybe he’ll see a media post from his friend, etc…

Tuesday - Sketch

  • Find outside pre-existing ideas to help you get inspiration
  • Sketch your solution to the problem

Study existing companies and nonprofits to help you source information, try and explain these ideas to one another so as to make sure you understand them.

List those ideas, where they come from, and what they rely on, don’t try and make decisions on these ideas or debate on them, simply capture the ideas.

Try and describe every step of your idea, what happens first ? A client clicks on an ad, what next ? How does that serve your initial goal ?

Wednesday - Decide

  • Critique the solutions
  • Pick a solution that gives you the best chance of reaching your long-term goal

Ask more questions on the sketches if these aren’t precise enough. Also, try and narrate the sketches, this will help you understand the ideas.

Try and explain what you like in a certain idea, why you favor a solution over the other.

Once you’ve settled on an appropriate solution, try and imagine what the user experience will be, what happens once they login or click a certain button and how does that help you reach your final goal ?

Thursday - Prototype

  • Build a prototype

In this step, you’ll use different to create a prototype of your solution, keep in mind this is a prototype. The goal isn’t to make it perfect but rather just enough to create an accurate simulation of what you imagine.

Friday - Present & Improve

  • Present your prototype and get feedback
  • Study their reactions
  • Find a solution to your long-term goal

Conduct one on one interviews with about 5 different people. The aim is to get them to think out loud, be candid, and show both the positive sides and the negative ones. As the interviewer, try and point out areas of confusion.

Don’t try and lead the individual to a conclusion, let him explain what he thinks and his overall feeling to your solution.

The thesis behind a sprint is that you can’t really lose. By testing your prototype you’ll figure out the most important thing, is your idea on the right track ? Do you have to adapt it ? Or is it an impossible feat ? In any case you’ll have a more precise idea of the different possibilities, what your users think and what works or doesn’t.

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