From sketch to tested prototype in 5 days with Design Sprints

Gertjan Melgers - 2 October 2019

Lees dit artikel in het Nederlands. (updated)

Do you have an idea for a digital product and would you like to quickly test if it really catches on with your target group? Or would you like to skip those lengthy meetings and get answers to important business questions within a week? Well, you can! Using a design sprint, an originally five-day method developed by Google Ventures, you rapidly go from sketch to a tested prototype in 5 days. 

The man that started it all is Jake Knapp, who works for Google Ventures. He is the author of the book Sprint and shows you an example of a design sprint in this video.

We use it all the time

At Hike One, we’ve been using the design sprint method for years now. Not just during projects at corporate companies, but for start-ups as well. Over the last few years, we've done design sprints for many companies. Among them are Philips, Ziggo, PostNL, Talpa Radio, Delta, and Buienradar. We go from problem to solution in just one week, and both our client and the end user are involved, which makes it possible for us to validate our ideas quickly. We conceptualise together, design and test and gain valuable insights.

The final product of the design sprint is an interactive prototype which is tested by a group of users. It could be a click model or a simplified app interface. As long as it is obvious what it is we’re actually testing.

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An ongoing design sprint

Our design sprint room after a week's work

When to use a design sprint

There are commonly two scenarios in which a design sprint is useful:

  • When a new product is being created
  • When an existing product needs improvement

If you’re starting a design sprint, it’s important to define a clear problem. Most problems are obtained from statistics or from feedback of your customers. Maybe your customers find it hard to use your mobile app. The ordering flow in your webshop could be improved then, which makes the sales go up.

If you’re thinking about launching an entirely new product or service, you will want to validate your idea with your target group. With a design sprint, you will know if your ideas are valuable within a week. That’s what sets a design sprint apart from a traditional design process: you quickly learn from the needs your customers have and are able to quickly see if your initial idea fulfils that need. You skip the long meetings and debates, but manage to create support in your organisation.

A design sprint versus a traditional process

Achieving results together

We always do our design sprints together with the client. It enables us to share knowledge and map the needs in the business. The lines of communication are short and each person involved contributes from his or her expert topic. With our way of working, we get to know our client better and get to know what is relevant to them and what moves them.

The composition of a design sprint team is usually really diverse. Ideally, a team consists of four to eight people. Our designers are involved, as well as a product owner (PO) from the client’s side. He monitors the business goals closely and will make final design calls. The product owner also makes sure the outcome of the design sprint is implemented. Besides the core team, there are other people who will join too, from time to time: engineers, marketeers, or other important stakeholders. That way, everyone can deliver relevant information from his or her domain and contribute to as complete a prototype as possible.

What does a five-day sprint look like? The image underneath gives you an indication of the daily themes. If you’d like to learn more on this matter, download our free whitepaper, in which the lastest four-day version of the design sprint is further elaborated.

A stepping stone to the next phase

A design sprint is the ideal method to validate a hypothesis on the short term. It’s a way to test if your assumptions are correct and to see if people use your prototype like you thought they would. It’s also a stepping stone to a follow-up process, even if the outcome is not what you hoped it would be.

In that case, you’ve quickly found out what doesn’t work and saved yourself months of work. To increase the chance you’re creating something an end user really appreciates, you can decide to do another design sprint. It’s a way to iterate on your first concept, extend that concept or simply testing new ideas.

Validate new product ideas and get to market faster.

Download the free Design Sprints whitepaper. This whitepaper is based on the latest four-day design sprint version.

Gertjan Melgers

Interaction Designer, Design Principal, Design Sprint Facilitator

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