If you’re building a digital or physical product, working on a business model or defining an innovation project, a Design Sprint will make things easier for you. It’s a kick off process that will allow you to validate ideas and compress months of work into a few weeks and guarantee you and your team are on the right track.
It is a step-by-step remote or face-to-face process to solve big problems and test great and crazy ideas in just 4 days. Today, this methodology is used by thousands of companies and startups around the globe to speed up their design processes, improve communication between areas, align teams, and check if ideas are worth it very quickly.
Design Sprints are the fastest way to find out if a product is worth developing, if a feature is worth the effort, or if your value proposition is really valid. Plus, they encourage original thinking through experimentation, collaboration and iteration.
What do Design Sprints look like?
You start off the week working with a multidisciplinary team, talking about a very general challenge and end up the week with an interactive hi-fi prototype and feedback from real users.
Essentially it’s a 4-day validation process. On day 1, you define the challenges and plan out the week. On day 2, you decide what challenges to prototype. On day 3, you build a high fidelity prototype. On day 4, you test it with real users. It can be done remotely or face-to-face with the client.
Days 1 and 2 – Workshop days (Getting to know the product and the team, planning the whole week)
Structured discussions during these days create a path for the sprint week. You’ll map your challenge, talk with experts and produce a lot of solutions. On Tuesday you’ll vote on the best solutions and define a storyboard for the prototype you’ll build on Wednesday.
If you are working face-to-face you’ll need markers, post-its and a whiteboard. I suggest watching this video to know exactly what you’ll need to buy. If you are working on a Design Sprint remotely you’ll need to use Miro or FigJam by Figma.
Day 3 – Prototyping (The make-or-break moment of every Design Sprint)
You’ll need to work FAST. I mean, really fast. You have one day to make everything work for the user tests that start the next day. You need the right tools to make it work.
With Webflow you’ll be able to visually drag and drop blocks and create an interactive web in no time. Plus, you can keep working after the Design Sprint finishes, connect the domain and actually release the web. You can also export the code and use it in other platforms.
Bravo Studio is a free app builder that works with Figma or Adobe XD to bring to life your prototypes and turn them into native iOS and Android apps. This tool is a game-changer for designers who need to code. It has great design flexibility, allows you to test the product very quickly and saves a lot of time. You can preview and test the app, make adjustments or work on a second iteration and publish it in App Store and Google Play Store.
Adalo is also a tool to build apps dragging and dropping reusable building blocks. You can link the pages of your app together to bring your app to life and work with simple database spreadsheets.
Day 4 – User tests (Take notes, record, every comment counts!)
Once your prototype is ready you’ll need to conduct user tests and see how they go. I highly recommend you to check out Lookback and SessionStack for your user tests. Even if they are in person, it’s a great tool to record your users reactions and movements through the screen. The videos are easy to share and sort. Both help you stream live or record/replay user sessions as a video that’s combined with a timeline of everything that happened in their browser.
Who should complete a Design Sprint?
Design Sprints are currently being used at some of the world's leading companies such as Google, Uber, Medium, Slack, Facebook, The New York Times, Twitter, Dropbox, and Airbnb. This means, every startup and entrepreneur could also be using a Design Sprint. Yes, you’ll need to do a bit more planning and invest one week on it. It is time consuming but it’s worth it. Of course you won’t be doing design sprints every now and then but you should consider adopting this process at least before launching a whole new product.
There’s no need to waste months of work to release a product nobody wants. You just need to take one week to build a prototype and test it with users to know where you are heading and if you are going in the right direction. If you validate ideas you reduce risk.