YOUR STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO PERFORMING A DESIGN SPRINT

How To Perform A Design-Sprint to Improve Your Product Design Process.

At One & Zero we perform a Design Sprint to ensure the inevitability of success.

Bringing a product to the market is a pretty big project. You have to think about numerous aspects of the market before making your decision about what kind of product to introduce.

You have to think about what customers are looking for, what your business can physically and financially produce, and what your competitors are producing. That’s why Google Ventures came up with something called the Product Design Sprint.

This exercise has been created with design thinking in mind and takes design teams through 5 different phases – one for each day of the week – until a product has been conceived and delivered to the market.

A design sprint led by One & Zero will bring together your entire team and help your company create products that have a meaningful impact on the lives of your customers.

This process has been used in companies ranging from small startups to larger, multi-national corporations to develop new products.

This article is going to take you through a step-by-step process of how to conduct a design sprint. That way, your company is going to have a higher success rate in developing new products or new features for existing products.

This video from Google Ventures will help you prepare in setting up for your design sprint, it outlines what you need, who needs to be there and what to expect.

Additional tools that we use to help elevate your process and productivity :

Invision – Hands down the best design prototyping/planning tool.

Asana – Project management software (even the free version rocks).

Aha – Roadmapping and product development software.

 

WHAT IS A DESIGN SPRINT BUILT UPON?

First of all, before we get to the different phases of the design sprint, we’ve got to understand the basis of it. This concept is built upon something called Design Thinking – a way of thinking that brings together creativity, empathy, rationality to solve issues.

Empathy – This is used to put yourself in the customer’s eyes for some time. Without doing this, there is no way that a great product can be delivered that meets your customer’s expectations and desires. There are a lot of things to think about here – religion, politics, finances, etc. By using empathy, teams can take into account all of these forces and ensure products always have the customer in mind.

Creativity – Creativity is something that’s sorely lacking in many companies as they go through the daily grind. That’s why creativity is such an important part of the design sprint process. Your teams are going to collaborate together, throw ideas around, speak with one another, and speak with customers to get those creative juices flowing.

Rationality – One of the most important things to remember in this process is that solutions should be rational. They should be tried and tested through experimentation and real measurements. This will bring a product to market that actually makes sense in the context your company is operating in.

Design thinking is not only something that you should use in the design sprint. It’s important to remember as you go through the sprint, but you can also use creativity, empathy, and rationality as the basis of everything you do in the sprint and carry that over to all aspects of your company.

You can use empathy to take perspectives from the customers you work with on a daily basis and the coworkers you have around you.

You can use creativity to spur innovation in every department of your company – not only in product design and creation.

And of course, rational thinking should pervade every corner of your company if you want the most logical decisions to be made.

At One & Zero our Design Sprints are done in a 5 x 5 x 5 format, 5 hours per day, 5 phases in 5 days. We go longer if need be, we bring a whatever it takes mentality to our sprints, but we set out with the intention of staying laser-focused, shorter more intensive days keeps the team fresh and sharp over the course of the week.

PHASE 1: UNDERSTAND

As the design sprint only lasts for five days, you’re going to start off on Monday with the first phase of the sprint – Understanding.

The goal of this phase is just as it seems – to understand what problems your company is facing, the business environment you’re operating in, your customer persona, your value proposition, and how you’ll tell when you are successful.

This is going to bring everyone onto the same page before moving onto the next phases of the design sprint.

But why do we start with understanding?

The biggest reason is that everyone in your team will start empathizing with the customer and really starting to care about their experience.

By understanding and genuinely starting to care about your customer’s journey, your team will be serious about solving the issues they are facing.

Without this basis of empathizing with the customer, the solutions that your team comes up with in future phases won’t come close to actually helping out your customer.

You’re going to be performing activities like defining your opportunities, defining your customer and their problems, gathering all necessary research, analyzing that research, filling a Business Model Canvas, and check out who else is solving similar problems inside and outside of your industry.

If you’re going to be bringing anybody else onboard in the coming week (perhaps they couldn’t be present on the first day), then make sure that copious notes are taken.

This documentation can be given to anybody who arrives in the room on the second or the third day. In addition to that, these notes can be referred on whenever someone needs a refresher on the problems needing to be addressed or the customers you’re working with.

 

design sprint team

 

PHASE 2: DIVERGE

Next up, we have the second phase of the product design sprint – Diverge. After everyone is on the same page regarding the problems you face, your customer’s needs, and what opportunities are in front of you, then you can move on to ideation in this phase.

The goal of this phase is for your team to come up with as many potential solutions to your problems as possible.

These can be crazy solutions that could never work or more practical solutions that have more of a financial underpinning. No matter the idea, every one of them counts.

Innovation is the main word of the day when it comes to this phase. The ideas that come forth in Diverge will help spark everyone’s creativity in the room – who knows what your team is going to come up with once the creativity starts flowing?

There are certain activities your team should undertake in this phase.

They include everything from always asking questions, individual journaling of ideas, brainstorming among the entire team, and going through the Mind Mapping process.

A key deliverable from this phase of the design sprint is something called the Critical Path Diagram. This is something you can draw on a large piece of paper on the wall that details the customer’s journey. You will start off the journey where the customer starts – perhaps your website. And you will end the journey where the customer ends – most likely, using your product.

In the middle of both of those points, your team can determine the big issues facing your customer, what they have to go through, and what needs to be addressed at each stage of the customer journey.

 

PHASE 3: CONVERGE

So, during the first phases of the design sprint process, your team came up with a ton of ideas and information about the problems you face and what solutions there might be.

In the next phase converge the ideas that are way too crazy to actually work are going to be eliminated and you’re going to focus on those ideas that are practical.

Once you get rid of those unattainable ideas, your team is going to focus on those ideas that everyone feels good about in the next steps.

That’s the main goal of this phase and should always be kept in mind while you’re going through it.

Even though your team members might have come up with all of these ideas, everyone should realize that not every idea is going to make it through these phases. Some would just cost too much money and some are not feasible with your existing equipment.

Ensure that your team members know that every single idea is valid, but it’s important to narrow down the ideas to move onto the next stages.

The things your team is going to do in this stage include: figuring out which ideas are solving the same problem, removing those solutions that you can’t pursue right now, and voting for the best ideas in a democratic manner.

Once this is completed, your team can feel free to move onto the next stages of the design sprint.

 

design sprint planning

 

PHASE 4: PROTOTYPE

This is where things get interesting. Your team has used their creativity and their empathy to understand what problems they are trying to solve and what potential solutions there might be for those issues.

You have narrowed down the best idea or ideas that could work in your product development. Now that that’s happened, it’s time to move onto the prototyping stage, which is just what it sounds like.

On Day Four of the design sprint, your team is going to build a prototype of the product that could work for your customers.

The main goal of this phase is to test what issues there might be with the product and cut through the unknowns to get rid of any potential risks.

By this point, everyone should know what needs to be done with the prototype and what tasks need to be undertaken.

Here’s a fantastic video from Google on how they run their prototype sprint.

Wait, you might be asking what the whole point of the prototype is! Now that you’ve got great ideas, what’s stopping you from taking the product straight to market?

Well, a prototype is going to be a low-cost way of determining what unknowns might still be present with your product.

You definitely don’t want to bring something to customers without knowing that most risks have been averted, right?

Once the prototype has been conceived, then your team is going to know exactly what needs to be fixed in the final stages of the product design.

The biggest takeaway your team needs to have delivered at the end of the fourth day is a prototype that can be tested on the next day.

In addition to that, the team should come up with a plan for testing. That way, everyone is going to be prepared for the next and final stage of the design sprint – Testing & Learning.

PHASE 5: TEST & LEARN

Yes, the final day of the design sprint has finally come and your team is ready to test this prototype they’ve prepared and get the final product to your customers.

However, this is probably the most important phase in the entire sprint. This is the phase when you’re going to test the prototype with your existing and potentially new customers.

This is where you will know whether the product is going to be a success on the market. This is make or break!

When your customers interact with your prototype, you are going to learn if this is the product that they actually need. At this point, when you test the prototype, you will have a clear sense of what needs to be fixed in the final product or if you need to go back to the drawing board altogether.

As your customers work with your prototype, you and your team should take notes about the interactions. Does your customer understand what the product is?

Do they get it? Or are they confused about why they would even need this product?

Is there anything that doesn’t work well or that they don’t understand the first time?

After you have had your customers work with your prototype, you can bring in products from your competitors.

If they are similar to your prototype, then you can see whether customers understand those products more than your prototype or if there’s anything that could be implemented from the competing products into your final design.

After all of this testing, when your team is completely exhausted from the week, you should draw up a final report about the design sprint.

What learnings did you take from your customers testing the prototype? Are there things that need to be fixed or improved?

What are the next steps your team should take in the coming weeks to create the final product? These are the questions that should be recorded for everyone to see.

Get in touch with us if you would like One & Zero to lead your team through a design sprint and or design your next digital product.

One & Zero is a Web Design Agency based in New York City. We’d like to invite you to learn more about what we do. For a complimentary consultation on your website’s performance, contact One & Zero today.