“The sprint gives our startups a superpower: They can fast-forward into the future to see their finished product and customer reactions before making any expensive commitments.” (Jake Knapp)
If you are a startup founder, you are keen to develop your product quickly and achieve financial success. So you understand how important it is to maximize the use of funds for your project, especially in the first round of funding. This is crucial not only for the existence of your product but often for your entire business. In this situation, the Design Sprint method and its selected elements come to your aid. It is a process that enables proven business-critical decisions.
Why is it so important? Design Sprints shorten the costly phase of designing and building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). After just a few days of workshops, you move seamlessly from the idea phase to developing a product prototype, making the most of your investment funds.
But how did the Design Sprint methodology come about in the first place? What are the main elements? Let us walk you through it below. We will also discuss situations where it is possible to use only parts of this workshop and explain how our project teams approach it.
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A brief history of Google’s Design Sprint
Today we know the process as Design Sprint, but it was first defined in 2010. At the time, its creator Jake Knapp worked at Google Ventures. He developed the methodology while trying to find ways to make meetings more efficient and design sprints simpler. Initial iterations of this approach gained industry recognition. Later, Google’s multidisciplinary team further refined the process and created an official 5-phase design workshop.
What is a Design Sprint?
As a rule of thumb, a Design Sprint is a process consisting of five distinct stages, with user-focused teams solving design problems in each. Google’s Design Sprint creates a framework for understanding, discovering, and selecting the best solutions, all the way to creating and testing a prototype. Using this process in a project reduces the risk of failure when bringing a new product to market.
What are the main stages of the Design Sprint?
Let’s learn about the five primary phases of a Design Sprint:
This stage is about pinpointing and getting to know the problem the team will be working on. It’s about understanding the users, their needs, and the business’s situation as much as possible. This part of the process focuses on analyzing the problem rather than the solution.
2. Defining and sketching ideas
The task of each participant in this stage is to prepare notes and create ideas for solving the problem. It’s all about inspiration for action and working on ideas independently.
Here the team analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the ideas that have emerged in the previous step. Next, they use their analysis to draw conclusions and determine the best solution to achieve the goal.
This is the phase where the team creates a product prototype, which we can show users from the user interface side. The point here is to focus primarily on the usability of the main functions.
This is the moment when the product is initially put into circulation. The purpose of the testing phase is to gather feedback, comments, and suggestions from future users. That way, further work on the product provides the opportunity for effective improvements.
Is it necessary to conduct all phases of the Design Sprint?
In general, we recommend including all phases of the Design Sprint in your workflow. However, there are situations where you can conduct shorter product workshops using just some elements of the Design Sprint. These can provide quick, practical solutions to a well-defined challenge that you can test with users later.
It’s essential to choose the methods that work best for your specific case and plan the number of sprint days to match the project’s needs.
What elements of the Design Sprint do we use in product workshops?
At Studio Software, we organize product workshops that include some of the Design Sprint elements. This is because customers generally need a faster analysis of the application’s performance to get the necessary documentation, project plan, and estimation.
Individual design stages using the Design Sprint framework include:
In the first stage, we define the project’s purpose, and team members consider all possible strategies and look at the project from multiple angles. We use techniques to understand the client’s needs and how to meet them using the Value Proposition Canvas. We then prioritize tasks using the MoSCoW method, to decide with the client which functionalities provide the most value.
2. Sketching: Preparation of User Flow Diagram
If we have the MoSCoW priorities prepared, we know the order of activities in the next stage, that is, during the main phase of the Event Storming workshop. In the initial stage, we focus on analyzing competing solutions to gather the most exciting inspirations. To make the task easier, we sketch out views. Among other things, we use a tool called Crazy Eight that is popular in Design Sprints. In this model, we involve every participant in the workshop. Everyone creates a simple diagram of a given view, according to their preferences, within 8 minutes.
Sketching of unique ideas then follows. Sketches can be presented collectively, or each team member can do it individually. Each participant has a chance to create an original concept. On this basis, we build a preliminary idea of a particular view, which later allows us to make an initial design.
In this stage, the project group decides which design is best. The best ideas for views are selected through voting. Those that receive the highest number of votes go forward, and a prototype is created based on them, which is later tested.
We then use our knowledge to map the product and how each function works. After making sketches and deciding on the final version of the product’s functionality, we prepare a User Flow Diagram to illustrate the complete result better. We then transfer the dashboard to the digital version (Miro).
At this time, we provide the client with full technical documentation of functional requirements, design estimation, and, optionally, a risk register. If the client is willing to collaborate further, we create a prototype of the application and conduct developer tests and surveys among test users. You can read more about the step-by-step process of building an application in the article “What is the process of creating dedicated software?”
Design Sprint or product workshop?
It all depends on the individual client’s situation, the complexity of the project, and the budget. Conducting an entire 5-phase design sprint works well when you have the need and the means to analyze whether your investment in a product will be based on actual data rather than hunches.
On the other hand, if you already have a clear direction for how you want to develop the product and a set of features that need to be implemented to achieve that, then you probably don’t need an entire Design Sprint. In that case, a product workshop will suffice to help you review the technical aspects of the work and focus on defining its priorities and scope.
If you want to quickly develop a sketch of a solution to verify your idea, enlist the help of experienced specialists. Their guidance will safeguard the project’s success while reducing the risks associated with the actual implementation of the product.