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Design sprints are a collaborative process that helps teams quickly brainstorm and iterate on ideas. The time-bound setup allows team members to be productive. In the first part of this design sprint series, we discovered the concept of design sprints and the steps involved. This blog focuses on productivity and the application of design sprints.

Design Sprints and Productivity

Design sprints bring people from different departments and leverage prototyping and usability testing to arrive at solutions. Most organizations adopt design sprints where the goal is already defined. For instance, design sprints are a better-suited process when a user experiences problems such as high bounce rates or low sign-ups. In these situations, the team can break down the user journey and identify the problem area to arrive at a better solution.

However, for design sprints to succeed, it is essential to manage expectations. The idea of design sprints is not to arrive at the perfect solution but to brainstorm new concepts quickly and gain feedback from the team relatively faster. By setting the expectation, members of the design sprint process can work towards bringing as many ideas as possible instead of worrying about their viability, thus improving the team’s productivity.

The following points must be considered for a design sprint to be truly productive:

  • The goal of the sprint – It can be anything from increasing the number of sign-ups to reducing the steps to account creation.
  • Problem statement – Unless a defined problem exists, it isn’t easy to succeed with the design sprint process. A problem statement can be anything from a high drop-off rate or a website loading time issue.
  • Defined target group – This helps understand the user perspective and develop customized solutions to suit their needs.
  • Pain points or constraints – There needs to be an understanding of the current difficulties creating the problems in the first place
  • Time to launch – Time is of the essence and hence the team needs to align their process to ensure adherence to timelines set for launch.
  • Team members – It is important to have a good mix of members with varied skillsets and from diverse roles in the organization so that the ideas are holistic.

Benefits of Design Sprints

Design sprints, when done right, can benefit a business in many ways.

  • Collaborative Ideation – Firstly, design sprints allow businesses to move away from a committee-based thinking process that can be cumbersome and tedious. With design sprints, the teams take a collaborative approach to arrive at a solution that considers ideas from various stakeholders.
  • Access to Stakeholders – Design sprints also benefit agencies in getting to know their clients by helping them identify key stakeholders. This reduces approval time as the middlemen in the process can be pruned. Design sprints are goal-based with a clearly defined purpose, thus ensuring no time is wasted in identifying the final deliverable.
  • Effective Brainstorming – Since each member of the design sprint committee is expected to come up with ideas, it can be viewed as an activity that encourages original thinking and experimentation. Team members can present their ideas without worrying about the execution part. The ideas thrown in together can be used in fragments to weave a possible solution to address the problem at hand.
  • Iterative User Feedback – The final step in design sprints is user testing. The team’s efforts are immediately acknowledged by validating ideas with prototypes and sketches. The feedback from this stage can be taken to tweak the solution further, thus reducing the cost of failure.

Making Design Sprints Work

The design sprint approach has two broad use cases – conceptualization and discovery.

  • Conceptualization Design Sprint – A conceptualization design sprint can establish a new process or workflow. For instance, this design sprint is a good approach to elaborate a user journey upon app download. This approach allows the teams to think from the business point of view and run trials at the end of the sprint to get feedback.
  • Discovery Design Sprint – The discovery design sprint methodology is applicable where a large project team is divided by job description. This process helps remove silos among departments and creates a collaborative environment by allowing various teams to interact and gather inputs to improve the development process. For instance, if the developers have created a new prototype for an app, other team members can be invited to review and share feedback on various aspects of the app. This works better than a focus group as each member is from a different core team, such as sales and marketing, each with their unique perspectives.

In the age of limited resources and tight budgets, businesses are looking at agile methods that would help them resolve issues without too much investment of time or money. Developed by Google, design sprints have been well received. While they cannot fully replace traditional design processes, they are certainly viewed as game changers especially where problem statements are well defined.

UNBOX is a UX practice at GS Lab | GAVS, where we design world-class yet practical digital experiences for our customers. In numerous engagements, we have been involved in various stages of the product development lifecycle, including PoCs and MVPs. Our experience in UX allows us to navigate vast domains and different customer segments easily. Unboxing user experience aspects at an early stage of the product surely does reap benefits later. You can find more information on our services here.