That demands novel solutions to ensure good products in the shortest time possible.
Enter design sprints, unique formulas to solve problems through design thinking.
What is a design sprint, and why is it important?
Design sprints are tools for solving problems through design thinking. You can consider them to be recipes for design thinking.
Design sprints are intense 5-day exercises that answer specific business problems through prototyping and testing.
The 5-day process begins on Monday when all the stakeholders and facilitators meet to brainstorm and create the road map for the process.
In most cases, design sprints help create both digital and physical products. Examples of digital products include applications and websites.
Physical products can be anything from simple objects to complex innovations like prosthetics.
Therefore on the first day, goal identification and alignment to the target audience needs is made.
The customer journey map is created to simulate how a user will interact with the product.
The map is a virtual illustration of the customer interacting with the service or product in a step-by-step representation to the endpoint when the user has solved their problem through the product.
Since the map has steps, it will be easy to pick out challenges in the map that sprinters can improve, and therein lies the goal of the design sprint.
It is essential to identify the problem that needs solving right on the first day to avoid wasting time and resources on the wrong problem.
The customer journey map is a key ingredient in solving customer problems.
Sprinters will analyze all the touchpoints through questions that determine how we can enhance the customer experience as they interact with the product.
The questions that arise from this exercise are structured in a - How-might-we - format.
For example, how might we make the process shorter and less cumbersome for the user?
Generating the questions from the stakeholders and workshop participants will ensure the questions vary and are abundant. Consider this phase a brainstorming exercise.
Thereafter the whole team picks the most important questions and votes, with the main criteria being which one will bring the user closer to their goals...
Day 2 - Having identified a clear goal or target for the sprint the previous day, you begin by sharing ideas that will help solve the problem at hand.
Usually, the process takes a sketching route where participants propose various ideas that could solve the problem. By the end of the day, a common idea is picked and ready for the next stage.
Day 3 - Having many different ideas is good, but you only focus on one. Everyone in the team will want their idea to be the best. However, a critic- session that quickly evaluates each idea can help solve the quagmire of picking the best idea.
You also have at hand a key decision-maker in the sprint to help in decision making. Their task is to be the final call when stuck with decision-making. They quickly pick what is relevant to the company.
Day 4 - This is when the rubber meets the road. Armed with the final idea that needs a prototype, the entire team is engaged in the prototype building.
The tools that will help this phase become a success depend. But when you look at the overall picture, you need at least 3 key roles; the copywriter (for digital products), you might need an illustrator and finally, one person to bring it all together in one neat product - the prototype.
Day 5 - Test Day! - After a week of intense activities, it all culminates in an actual test where users interact with the product.
The entire team will be observing the user and identify challenges and successes that are documented and analyzed at the end of the day. The challenges and successes will determine the following:
- If the sprint was a success and the product can now undergo full production - validation
- If the process needs a repeat. In this case, repeating a sprint addresses only the main pain points realized in the test phase. You don’t need the entire five days to solve the issues that arise from the test phase
- You might shelf the entire project altogether as a result of user feedback
Design Sprints have one primary purpose, validate ideas before committing resources towards building them.
Having understood the design sprint process let us dive back into the main topic
Why design sprints are important for startups
Startups thrive on developing solutions and scaling as fast as possible. Creating products that haven’t been validated and verified as useful and worth the effort means wasted resources and time.
That is a fundamental mistake in the startup world.
Instead of going into development - blind - you take the design sprint route and ensure you have a solid product that passes the users test, then splash all the resources to develop it further after it meets the bare minimums.
For startups, the MVP is the validation tool. Minimum Viable Products are designed and tested as soon as possible.
Big organizations continue developing products internally and usually embrace design sprints for success.
Advantages of design sprints for enterprises and startups
The key advantages of design sprints include:-
- Promote collaboration and teamwork and increase productivity
- Reduce the time taken from idea to product
- Provide key insights from users early enough to prevent losses in developing flawed products
That is not exhaustive but captures the key advantages of this process.
When to run a design sprint
Running a design sprint will help crystalize business goals and help focus on opportunities that promise the best results.
The design sprint process ends up with actual user interaction where valuable data is generated.
During the exercise, loads of ideas are generated before the actual prototyping and therein lies the gold mine.
Since it is a well-documented process, coming back to the ideas generated during the ideation phase will always provide a fresh perspective and retain a treasure trove of ideas to explore further.
Design Sprints are the answer to strategic development in enterprises and startups. Therefore they should be part of everyday development cycles in enterprises and startups.
If you are looking for a partner to work with your Design Sprints, look no further. BlueRoad will help you figure it all out in a unique facilitation and validation exercise.
Sprint to success!