Design Sprints

Level 1 - The Basics

Design sprints are a topic that is getting a lot of talking; we instinctively understand the value of design and the word “Design sprint” has a very sexy sound (at least for me!), but what are they really? How can they help you and your product?

Design sprints derive from the Lean thinking movement, wich is an approach to digital products development that helps to maximize efforts and reduce waste of resources by breaking down a project into a course of tested experiments. All of which are born from an hypothesis that is tested, validated and (eventually) implemented.

The lean process has a lot of similarities with the “design sprints”, where a product is divided in smaller batches of iterative work.
This style of work affects designers as we cannot jump into designing a final product.

We must be flexible and adapt our design as the product is tested. This agile, by building and improving process has positive impact on the product by preventing wasted efforts.

This iterative concept is not new to the world, it actually comes from the manufacturing industry, where has created tremendous success for many companies, biggest example being Toyota.

Challenges Facing the Conventional Design Process

When it comes to the use of conventional designs, there are some challenges that users and developers had to live up to. First off, the process in itself is not easy, considering that the required initial investment is gigantic.
Besides the monetary investment, there is also an enormous amount of time invested, considering that the development depends on the initial design to be done before the engineers can get to it.
Determining the needs of the client can be a big challenge. It gets even worse when the client needs to change their concept from time to time. The problem here lies in the fact that once the initial direction of the design has been determined, changing the product can be a really big problem.

Importance of design sprints

The challenges highlighted above can actually be taken care of easily as long as the entire design process can be modified in such a way that the design takes place over a duration of time. This way the project gets completed in milestone phases, which is a far much better idea than having it completely defined up front.
This also makes it easier for the developers to start working on the project much sooner and faster than if they had to wait for the client to turn eventually up with new ideas from time to time.
Besides, this is also an incredible concept, considering that the designers are able to break down the project into smaller sets of goals, which are manageable.
Design sprints are normally broken down into smaller segments, 1-3 week parts or even shorter depending on the nature of the project. Once the project has been broken down into smaller segments, it becomes easier to solve particular issues that arise in the design stage, and eventually deliver a fantastic final project to the client. There is a lot of planning that goes into design sprints, but at the end is a lot less work than it would be put into a poorly planned product!

Here are some resources on how to conduct a design sprint, soon I’ll publish a post that highlights a particular sprint we did for one of our clients.

Smashing Magazine