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What is a design sprint?

Definition: A Design sprint is a process of validating, building, and testing new ideas or solutions in a short time (usually five days). It is a collaborative interdisciplinary process that brings together key stakeholders to quickly identify and solve a problem. 

They help teams make better decisions by rapidly going from idea to prototype and seeing the results, deciding if they will invest more time and resources into the project or move to a new one.

Using design sprints, teams can solve complex problems quicker by trying out different solutions quickly and picking the best one. 

H2: Design sprint process

Design sprint process is divided into five phases:

  1. Understand: Conducting research, defining and understanding the problem, and setting sprint objectives.
  1. Sketch: Generating ideas and detailed solutions to the problem. 
  1. Decide: Making the decision out of all the ideas and refining it into a workable solution.
  1. Prototype: Building a working prototype of the solution.
  1. Test: Testing the prototype and gathering feedback.

Teams will usually work on each part of the process for one day of the week filling all five work days.

At the end of the sprint, the team will know if the sprint was a:

  • Failure: The prototype didn’t work, and the team has to rethink their approach.
  • Mild success: Parts of the prototype worked, and another sprint is needed to refine it.
  • Success: The prototype solved a problem and can be scaled into a product.

Needed roles & responsibilities for a successful design sprint

Roles needed for a sprint:

  • Decider: Has the most decision-making power to move the sprint forward and influence its goals.
  • Facilitator: Leads the team through the sprint and keeps them focused on the objective.
  • Customer experience: Provides the team with user input and looks at the solution from their perspective.
  • Prototypers: They include designers and engineers who will build a working prototype.
  • Recruiter: Recruits and coordinates users that will provide input and test the solution.

Besides these roles, a sprint team may include other roles (finance, marketing, business…) depending on the project's needs.

Successful sprints fill these roles with people from diverse experience levels, personalities, and backgrounds for the team to have different perspectives.

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Article FAQs

Why might a team consider conducting a design sprint?
A design sprint saves time and money by allowing the team to test ideas in a few days. This lets them build better solutions much faster by focusing on what idea works.
What is a design sprint brief?
It is a document outlining the objectives and all the necessary information for the team to get started on the idea/problem. It includes the idea/problem description, limitations, and testing metrics. They are used to keep the team aligned on the project's goal through their sprint.
When do design sprint retrospectives usually take place?
They take place after the testing phase with the goal of identifying the next steps for improving the solution in further sprints.
How do you know you have a successful design sprint?
A sprint is successful if all the objectives have been met and there is positive feedback from the test. It should also provide the team with a clear path for future development.
When and how to recruit users for a design sprint
Users should be recruited before the understanding phase to help understand their problems and pain points before the sprint starts. There are several ways to recruit users: Ask loyal customers what problem they need to be solved and if they would test the solution Reach out to potential customers (website visitors, social media, forums…) Pay a market recruiting agency It is best to recruit a diverse group of users for different perspectives and wider appeal.

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