With so many apps entering the market every day, what does it take to build a successful digital product?
Product teams are continuously spending time and effort answering this question and still there is not an all time solution. Over the years through the experience of many professionals – a Design Sprint process has proven that it can increase efficiency and reduce risk.
“ The Design Sprint evolved from within Google and I’ve seen it work miracles.”
– Scott Jenson, Product Lead at Google
What is a Design Sprint?
A design sprint is a five-phase process developed by many independent designers constantly looking for optimization and improvement. It is great for both startups and enterprise companies.
Using design thinking in a time-constrained framework, teams are able to downstream mistakes and generate vision-led goals through rapid prototyping and testing. Before the very beginning of creating, developing or launching something teams are able to understand and validate the idea in order to solve for the bigger challenges ahead.
How Design Sprint helps you?
Time is precious. We all know that. Within just a week the Design Sprint process enables you to:
Understand – Clarify the problem and identify the needs of potential users
Diverge – Analyze solutions through brainstorming sessions and sketching exercises
Converge – Extract ideas into a few solutions ready to be tested
Prototype – Prototype your solution and bring it to life
Test – Test the prototype with people who would use it.
Who should take part of the Design Sprint?
Bringing together a cross-functional team of people will increase the sprint’s benefits. Reviewing the problem from different angles brings so much value to the process and the outcome.
Faciliator – the guy who tracks the time and follows the agenda
Product Owner or Product Manager
Marketing or research professional
*To have a stakeholder from the client side would be optimal!
It is important all of the participants to be present in the entire sprint week and to be fully committed to the process. Remote design sprint is possible but nothing beats the feeling of real people in the same physical space.
Step by step.
Understand the problem.
On day 1 everybody gets pretty excited however you shouldn’t try to find the perfect solution right away. Instead try to build a solid foundation for your project first.
Тhe team needs to clarify and answer these questions:
- What is our main goal? – Generating sprint questions is fundamental in the beginning. These questions are the foundation of the process.
- Who are the users and what are their pain points? – Sketching an empathy map and creating a customer journey
- What problems are on our way? – Using the “What might we…” method turns problems into opportunities.
Create a sprint brief where you can sum up all the challenges, key goals and deliverables that the team plans to produce over the week. A clear sprint brief will lead all of the team on the same page. Try to “space travel” a little bit and imagine the product after a year ( or even more) – How does it look like? It is a good way to establish the long-term goals and find the obstacles that will prevent you from achieving these goals.
* Be careful when pointing out sprint challenges. If the problem you are trying to solve can’t be tested it may not be suitable for a design sprint.
Ideate the solution.
Here is when everyone comes up with their own ideas. Remember – there are no bad ideas!
Take time to research competitors and find examples which can serve as an inspiration. All kinds of paper tools such as mind maps, notes, story boarding, crazy eights are highly recommended.
Each person should present their ideas in 3 minutes.
Choose which idea to prototype.
Every idea should be diagnosed – pros and cons, merits and flaws – discuss it!
Dot voting is perfect to allow team members to pinpoint individual features they like from each idea.
At the end of the day after reaching a consensus on the best solution, make a storyboard of 5-15 frames to provide a context.
Time to create a prototype.
Create some UI’s using Photoshop, sketch or whatever you want and generate an interactive prototype.
Remember! – We do not seek perfection at this stage. It is all about reaching those important insights – therefore we focus only on the critical pain points of the users.
Time for user testing.
Day five is all about bringing in real users. According to Nielsen model* it is more than enough to interview five people who represents your target group. The more realistic the prototype is the more valuable insights you will get from the users. Always trial run your prototypes in order to discover little mistakes and bugs before the users start testing it.
Analyze and learn from users’ feedback. Prioritize the patterns you find within the results and fill your backlog for the next iteration of the product.
Wrap up and tips:
- It is a great idea to create a summary brief after each day so you can follow up on what was done.
- Follow the time framework. It doesn’t have to be a Monday – Friday process, it can start at Wednesday, but don’t break it in parts. It should be done in five consecutive days.
- Use the crazy 8’s methods – it is a method where every person sketches 8 different ideas in 8 minutes.
- The Design Sprint is user-centered. Always stick to that.
- Fail fast, learn faster.
So let’s summarize: Design Sprint is awesome. It reduces the waste of going in the wrong direction and helps control costs. Why wouldn’t a company use such thing in the chaotic world of product design?
Could there really be a process out there that helps control costs, reduces expenses of going in the wrong direction, and helps keep the peace? Could such a fabled thing exist in the chaotic world of product design?
For the curious ones who want to learn Design Sprint in depths I recommend this book.