Design Sprints: Can they really simplify and solve any design problem in a single week?

Moving the needle on your product or service design can be a lengthy and risky process – but it doesn’t have to be. Design Sprints were developed and used by large international companies such as Google, Airbnb, Spotify and LEGO, and they’re proven to help simplify and solve many design problems, in a single working week.

What is a Design Sprint?

Design Sprint is a methodology for solving big challenges quickly, efficiently, and with minimum risk. They can be used to create new products, evolve existing ones, or explore innovative ideas in a controlled environment. The fast and iterative nature of Design Sprints means that potentially months of work can be more efficiently tackled in a single 5-day sprint or over a series of sprints.

What are the phases in a Design Sprint?

First of all, ahead of the sprint, it is important to define and agree on a single problem statement to inform the Sprint Challenge. After this, the sprint can begin, for example:

1. Monday: Understand

Through a set of guided activities, the team explores the background and context for the Design Sprint, gathers and absorbs knowledge around the problem space. It then discusses and prioritises the challenges and opportunities.

2. Tuesday: Explore

To address the problem statement(s), solution ideas are generated by using creative thinking exercises, with a multi-disciplinary team, to develop a wide range of possible outcomes.

3. Wednesday: Decide

The team shares their ideas and solicits feedback and critique, aiming to turn the best ideas into a testable hypothesis. The team then votes on the elements they are most passionate about before developing a prototype plan by mapping the user test flow.

4. Thursday: Create

The visual prototype, test script, and flows are developed to prepare the solution for user testing.

5. Friday: Test

The prototype is tested with real users, using the plan and scripts created on Day 3. Testing can also be conducted with key stakeholders joining remotely.

After the sprint, findings are distilled into a report which includes a summary of the sprint, key takeaways, recommendations, and suggested next steps.

Design Sprint

Key benefits of Design Sprints

The Design Sprint approach offers five key benefits:

1. Low risk, low cost

You can easily test and validate your concept at a fixed cost, lowering the risk of investing significant resources into solutions that users don’t want.

2. Validate decision making

You can make data-informed decisions about your solution through real user feedback and stakeholder impressions.

3. Foster collaboration

A Design Sprint helps bring a team together from many different disciplines; it strengthens mutual understanding and buy-in from the outset.

4. Rapid results

There is no time wasting here. Ideas that emerge on Monday are delivered in a designed, built, and user-tested prototype by Friday.

5. Learn from experts

Finally, by shadowing a team of experts, your team can learn to implement this excellent methodology within many areas of your business in future.

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When should you consider a Design Sprint?

If you are assessing if a Design Sprint might be right for you, here are a few circumstances in which you should confidently go ahead with this approach:

  • You have a clear and specific problem you would like to focus your team on
  • Your problem is big enough that it requires a considered effort to tackle
  • You’re looking to prove an idea by testing its desirability or market fit
  • You need to foster more buy-in and confidence the solution is right
  • The potential impact of your solution failing is high.

Work with our experienced team

At Screenmedia, we’ve been working with clients for over 15 years to make problem-solving smarter, more efficient, and more user-centred. As an end-to-end design and technology consultancy, we provide a holistic approach to Design Sprints that helps our clients fully realise their product and service ambitions, without costly missteps.

If you want to find out more about our Design Sprint capabilities, please get in touch and one of our team will be delighted to discuss with you.


Director of Strategy and Planning

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