What Are Design Sprints?

Design Sprint

Design Sprint is a five-phase framework that helps answer critical business questions through design, prototyping, and testing ideas with users.

A design sprint is a unique methodology used in the facilitation of innovation and problem-solving within teams. Originally developed at Google, it's a five-day process that incorporates the best of business strategy, innovation, behavior science, design thinking, and more. The fundamental idea is to accelerate decision-making processes, identify any issues in strategy or design, and test new ideas with a clear focus and limited distractions.

A design sprint usually involves a small team and follows a structured timeline and processes, each day dedicated to a specific phase of the sprint. This ensures that the group's efforts are concentrated on solving critical business questions through designing, prototyping, and testing ideas with users. The process culminates in learning lessons that can dramatically reduce the time required to bring an idea to market. Utilizing tools such as user empathy maps, storyboarding, and prototyping, a design sprint helps transform abstract ideas into actionable insights.

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Design Sprint

When should you run a design sprint?


You should run a design sprint when you need to solve a critical business challenge, develop a new product, or improve an existing service quickly. It is especially useful when you want to cut through complexity and obtain clear results in a short period, or when you're looking to innovate and need feedback on an idea before committing to full-scale development.

How do you plan a design sprint?


Planning a design sprint involves several key steps:

  1. Define a clear and important challenge.
  2. Gather a small, multidisciplinary team including a facilitator who can guide the sprint.
  3. Schedule uninterrupted time and prepare resources like materials for prototyping and user testing.
  4. Finally, make sure all team members understand the sprint rules and goals.

How do you run a design sprint?


Running a design sprint involves the following five phases:

  1. Understand
  2. Diverge
  3. Converge
  4. Prototype
  5. Test

During these phases, utilize tools like mind-mapping, sketching, and prototyping to develop and refine solutions. It's critical to maintain a fast pace and focus on the user's perspective throughout to ensure the solutions developed are grounded in real user needs.

How long is a design sprint?


A standard design sprint lasts five days. Each day of the sprint is structured to focus on different phases of the problem-solving process, making efficient use of time and brainpower. This format is designed to yield clear results quickly and can be adapted slightly depending on specific team needs or constraints.

What are the design sprint phases?


The five phases of a design sprint are:

  1. Understand - map out the problem and choose an important place to focus.
  2. Diverge - brainstorm as many ideas and solutions as possible.
  3. Converge - choose the best ideas.
  4. Prototype - build a realistic model.
  5. Test - get feedback from real users.

This structured approach ensures that every aspect of the product or solution is scrutinized and tested for viability.