7 things we learned while doing Design Sprints

Gertjan Melgers - 29 January 2019

Since the introduction of Design Sprints in 2015, we’ve been head over heels in love with the method. As a digital product design agency, we already used a lot of the exercises long before the method was coined by Jake Knapp and Google Ventures. We loved the fast-pasted structured process of getting from idea to product. It literally compresses weeks of work into 1 single week.

After 2,5 years and a track record of over 80 sprints, it’s time to look back and reflect a bit on the lessons we learned while doing design sprints.

1. Sprints are versatile and fast

We use design sprints to answer all kind of questions. From tackling complex problems like helping growers monitor their pesticides to designing an award-winning radio app for Radio 538. The key is to prepare your sprint properly and make sure you’ve got a solid challenge to solve and pick your target wisely. If you do this, you can solve almost anything in a sprint.

2. Sprints build strong teams

A design sprint is a great way to kick-start your next project. Besides the tangible output you get in 1 week, it also helps to quickly build strong teams. You can say this is one of those hidden bonuses of the design sprint. Working together, alone with a multi-disciplinary team of decider, experts and prototypers really pays off.

3. Four days, instead of five

We utilise the most up to date version of the Design Sprint at Hike One: the Design Sprint 2.0. This is a semi-official update of the design sprint method, initiated by AJ & Smart. The Design Sprint 2.0 still embodies all the parts of the original design sprint, but has some nice, neat tricks. The biggest difference: it’s 4-days instead of 5. One thing we’ve kept in mind for ourselves and our clients is that we always consider what’s best for the challenge we want to tackle. If you want to speak to a lot of experts, we still use the 5-day version. Just keep in mind that the result may be the same.

4. Challenge yourself

Design Sprints help you to answer difficult questions. So don’t be afraid to take some risks. Make sure you have a big and bold challenge. Use this week to learn. Have a decider in the sprint team who is accountable, so you can make the hard decisions. You don’t have to decide everything, make good use of the experts to challenge your direction.

5. We ❤️ prototyping

We love to build prototypes. And we’re always suprised what we can do in just 1 day. Of course, we build the prototype to get answers to our questions. But we are designers: so we always try to get the most out of this day. We have over 70+ skilled designers at Hike One. So, depending on the topic we add illustrators, prototypers and animators to the sprint to ensure we have an awesome representation of the product. A realistic facade, ready to test.

6. Use what you have learned

By the end of a design sprint, you will have a high-fidelity interactive prototype of a new or improved idea, product or feature that has been tested with end-users. You will have a clear picture of the problem you are trying to solve. At this point a lot of hard questions have been answered. Don’t stop now. Use what you have learned. Define the next steps and iterate upon your insights that you have gained.

7. Mind the gap

We alway recommend to do an iteration sprint after the design sprint. It helps the team to incorporate all the user insights, gather the right details and to fix any shortcuts they may have taken during the first week. This acts as a bridge between the design sprint and the start of the development of your product. During this week, we iterate on the prototype and perform quick, ad-hoc (remote) tests with new users. You can use this refined prototype to flesh out a roadmap for your product.

Get started

Sprints, we like them a lot! We hope you do too after reading this article. If you have any questions or would like to use our expertise for your own design sprint, feel free to email us at hello@hike.one

Masterclass

After doing over 80+ design sprints, we've developed a single-day workshops with healthy mix of theory and practice. If you'd like to learn how to run your own design sprints, check out our upcoming masterclasses in Running Design Sprints. 

Gertjan Melgers

Interaction Designer, Design Principal, Design Sprint Facilitator

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