Before we begin we need to clarify the naming issue. You can find many different names of the same thing circulating all over the internet - Design Sprint, Product Discovery Workshops, Service Design Workshops, Product Design Sprint, Innovative Workshops, Google Sprint etc.
We decided to stick to the original name - Design Sprint. If you’re more familiar with a different name - don’t worry, we’re talking about the same thing!
In 2010 Jake Knapp, a Design Partner at Google Ventures, created a time-constrained process that uses design thinking with the aim of reducing the risk when bringing a new product, service or a feature to the market. In those 9 quick years, Design Sprints have taken the world by storm.
At Setapp, we are always trying to use the latest innovations - be it the new technologies or up-to-date processes. We’re constantly looking for ways to be better at what we do. Conducting high-quality Design Sprints is no different. But it’s not a ‘copy & paste’ process for us - while we’re familiar with the original ideas of Jake Knapp, we have taken them and made them our own.
Our Design Sprints are based on Design Sprint 2.0 - a new and improved version of the original idea. Design Sprint 2.0 idea was developed by AJ&Smart to wrap the whole process up in 4 intensive days of creativity and cooperation.
What is a Design Sprint?
So what exactly is a Design Sprint? It’s essentially a 4-day intensive process to develop a working prototype, get feedback from users, build a plan for next steps and understand the full potential of a project.
The whole process is split into two parts. During the first half, we work with a client at our HQ. After that, our designers get back to their rooms to deliver a working prototype, tested on real users. Our clients can then relax and wait for the results of our work.
Who takes part in the Design Sprint?
You might ask yourself - who exactly takes part in a Design Sprint? From our side you can usually expect a UX Designer, Software Developer and Scrum Master. Keep in mind though that this composition is flexible. We adjust it to the specific needs of every single client.
From the client’s side, we expect at least three people. It’s up to the client to choose the people best fitted for their project. We recommend picking people most engaged in it, as they will be the source of information for our experts. Usually, CCOs (Chief customer officer), CTOs, Product Owners or Sales Managers are good picks.
It’s also very important to keep in mind that there’s no Setapp Team and Clients’ Team during the Design Sprint. We are one team and we work together towards the common goal. To help us all achieve that, there’s also one additional (yet extremely important) person in the team from our side - the facilitator. He guides everyone through the process, keeps everything in line and makes the whole thing smooth, effective and enjoyable.
Who should be interested in Design Sprints?
You might be asking yourself - is a Design Sprint for me? Can it resolve my concerns and problems? Does it fit the needs of my project?
Design Sprints are not created to solve all kinds of problems. If your issues are relatively basic, there are other ways to validate them - Design Sprints might be excessive. The same goes with the risks involved with the project. If they’re low and your project is fairly safe to deliver - don’t bother with a Design Sprint.
In general - if you’re very confident that your proposed solutions will be successful and everything is set, then you can spend your time on something different than a Design Sprint. But we know that a lot of your problems are not low risk, simple issues and it’s increasingly harder to be confident in your solutions with no working, tested prototypes.
There are tons of reasons to run a Design Sprint on your project. It’s impossible to include them all here, but we can highlight the ones that are most common:
- You need a prototype of a project to get funding.
We are aware that getting funding is a major issue for a lot of startups. Design Sprints are a perfect tool to achieve that - there are not a lot of things that help to sell your project better than a working, tested prototype.
- You don't want to waste months to start a project.
As Shirley Temple once said: "Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble". Not a lot of entrepreneurs can wait for months to see the fruits of their labor. Design Sprints allow us to deliver results after just one week of hard work.
- You get stuck with some kind of barrier and don't know what to do next.
We’ve seen it many times when great projects were stopped by one issue because the team didn’t know how to overcome it. What’s even worse - we’ve seen teams ignoring the most burning issues because it was the easiest thing to do. Design Sprints can help you overcome even the hardest and most challenging issues you face.
- You want to reduce risks by creating a working prototype.
There are so many risks facing every project - financial, technical, external etc. Having a tested working prototype significantly lowers all kinds of risks and boosts your project efficiency.
- You have a big project but want to check part of it before going full steam ahead.
Huge projects are rarely delivered all at once. It’s way too risky, it makes no sense financially and it’s really complicated. That’s why it’s important to test and deliver the most important parts of the project separately. That’s when a Design Sprint comes in handy. It’s much easier to deliver the rest of your idea, when you know that the core of it is tested.
- Your team seems to be out of creative solutions.
We know that a traditional, lengthy development process is not the perfect environment for creativity. That’s why Design Sprints are so great - because of their condensed program, people involved in them don’t get tired and bored with a process. It’s rare to see so many great ideas in such a short span of time. That’s what we call a culture of innovation.
What is the outcome of a Design Sprint?
The outcome of our Design Sprint is an interactive prototype, verified by real users and with a coherent recommendation of what should be your next steps. A Design Sprint's outcome is definitely not some kind of paper prototype or blueprint. You get an interactive prototype that feels and looks like a real product.
You also get a clear vision of what your next steps can look like. It all depends on your project, but if you’re ready for development, you can easily move on from a Design Sprint into an Agile Sprint. That’s when we start coding, engineering and designing to build a final product (or MVP).
What is the most important outcome of the Design Sprint is a validation of your idea. Validation, combined with a tested, working prototype, can give you the confidence that your project is set for success.
A Design Sprint is a great way to kick off a project. It can truly change the client’s perspective, it boosts creativity in a way that normal development can’t and it significantly reduces risks. Obviously, it’s not a solution for everyone. But if your problems are complex, broad, difficult and they’re critical to the success of your project - we can’t recommend Design Sprints enough!
Also check our next article where we discuss in details the whole process of Design Sprints! You will learn how every single day of Design Sprint unfolds and what are the values of each stage.