Every designer and product developer is familiar with the concept of design sprints. The topic attracted a lot of interest when Google engineer Jake Knapp published his book Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Five Days.

Design sprints are a great tool for smarter product creation, no matter whether the product means improved design, web or mobile application, algorithm, or something physical.

Table of Contents

  1. Design Phases
  2. Important Actors in the User-Centered Design Process
  3. What Are the Benefits?

Design Phases

Today you’ll learn how to apply the basics of a design sprint in your work and advance as a designer even more. The design sprint process consists of several steps:

  1. Developing a deep understanding of the topic and the problem to be solved. You need to set the borders for the given challenge. Having the right team members on board to achieve a solution is crucial.
  2. Ideation. The team should discuss and suggest ideas based on the analysis of existing solutions, especially those used by your competition, Then, fill the gaps in the process by introducing completely new parts or improve aspects of the existing ones. Use whiteboards to sketch the proposed solution because visualization helps analyze the proposed idea better.
  3. Making decisions. You cannot make decisions without the right team. Basically, you need everyone — including the CEO, CFO, CMO, and programmers — who is competent to give his/her opinion and represents an important part of the bureaucracy that comes after this phase. Rob Fitzpatrick’s book The Mom Test covers some aspects of this phase.
  4. Prototyping. Ideas are great, but they don’t mean a thing unless the minimum viable product is developed and tested with real users. Prototyping asks and answers important questions: How will our target public react? Did you create a “vitamin” or a “cure”? The difference is huge, and in today’s world, you cannot rely on anything else except real playtesting and data.
  5. Testing. Give users a voice. Let them interact with your creation. Learn from it. Don’t base your solution on what your boss says — that traditional approach belongs to the past. You need to be ahead of time. Making and learning from mistakes in the beginning is preferred to losing tons of time developing useless stuff that requires big development, marketing, and a sales budget.

Important Actors in the User-Centered Design Process

A successful design sprint should consist of around six people. Crucial team members include the following:

  1. Decision maker: Whose opinion is valued the most? Who brings responsibility for the decisions in your company? The decision maker could be the CEO or a board member. Design sprints with the team are fine, but without a decision maker in the room, they mean nothing.
  2. Facilitator or mediator. Everyone in the room has the right to present his or her opinion and comment on proposed ideas. At the same time, you need to manage time — discussions can be endless without proper preparation and monitoring. A facilitator keeps everyone on track and focuses on problem-solving.
  3. Marketing wizard. Marketing helps with promotion through storytelling and other marketing techniques. Therefore, marketers need to know the product inside and out to deliver better and personalized messages to your audience. The marketing wizard interacts with your public on a daily basis. You will miss an important part of the whole story if you don’t involve a marketing expert on the team.
  4. Customer service representative. Your customer service rep hears and knows your users’ needs and problems because they talk with them constantly. Great teams and companies base their experiments and sprints on customer feedback, so it makes sense to include the people from this sector, too.
  5. Tech and data wizard. You will need to make a solid minimum viable product, or MVP. That cannot be done without the technical knowledge and experience in the process. Your tech person understands how to measure users’ interactions and setup the data-driven strategy to differentiate whether it’s worth the effort to invest in the proposed solution in the future or close the project.
  6. Cost manager. Every decision is measured in numbers, usually by the amount of money the company or the team will need to invest to bring the product to life. If you involve everyone except the financial person, you’ll make a huge mistake. If you don’t care about the money, the money won’t care about you either.

More people means more complications, so make a list of names and highlight who must be at the meetings. Cut unnecessary people along the way until you reach the perfect team combination that has the appropriate experience, skills, and decision-making power.

What Are the Benefits?

Performing a design sprint has countless opportunities and improvements. It improves teamwork, increases productivity, and promotes diversity. You avoid unnecessary risks and foster a culture of innovation in the company. Building everything based on valuable data reduces the chance of failure.

Leave your pride aside and start changing things for the better. So, start running design sprints today. You will thank us later 🙂

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