What is a Design Sprint?

Mar 18 · 6 min read

New to design sprints? This article will tell you everything you need to know about what design sprints are, when to use them (or not) and where they make the most impact.

Design Sprint Training by Design Sprint Academy

What is a Design Sprint?

Design = how it works.

Sprint = short & focused.

Where Does it Come From?

The design sprint framework was introduced to the world with the launch of the “Sprint, How To Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas In Just Five Days” book in 2016.

Types of Design Sprints

At Design Sprint Academy, we think outcomes is the most relevant criteria to categorize different types of design sprints.

Product/Service Design Sprint

Business Design Sprint

Strategy Design Sprint

Moonshot Design Sprint

Brand Design Sprint

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What Do You Need for a Design Sprint?

🎳 A team of 7–10 people with diverse skills and areas of expertise, working together for 4-5 days to develop a solution (prototype) to the above-mentioned challenge.

👩‍💻 Five users/customers to test the prototype on the last day of the sprint.

What Happens in a Design Sprint?







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What Are the Design Sprint Principles?

1. Together alone

2. Tangible discussion

3. Everyone has a voice

4. Strict time boundaries

What Are the Key-Roles in a Design Sprint?

🪄 The Design Sprint Facilitator Role

👑 The Decider Role

💪 The Sprint Team Member

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When to run a Design Sprint?

Design Sprints can be applied in a multitude of use cases, to:

✅ Test new business ideas

✅ Kick-off a big project

✅ Improve a service

✅ Optimize a process

✅ Start a new product or ideate a specific area of a product

✅ Discover the right priorities and features for a product

✅ Engage new audiences

✅ Define marketing and growth strategies

When not to run a Design Sprint?

❌ You are trying to cover all aspects of a very complex product/service at once. Sprints are very focused on answering specific questions you don’t have obvious answers to.

❌ You want to explore multiple use cases and hypotheses. Sprints are 1 week-long (or less), and the team can’t cover all possible hypotheses in such a short timeframe.

❌ You don’t understand or can’t articulate the problem you are trying to solve. The design sprint is a process that helps coming up with a solution. Before doing a design sprint one needs to clearly define the problem, both from a business and customer perspective.

❌ You already know what the solution is or what to build. Running a design sprint at this point would be a complete waste of energy and resources.

❌ There is no clear plan or support to execute the sprint outcomes. Without this, in most cases, the sprint week is just a wasted week.

❌ You are looking for just small improvements to your product or service. Sprints are not a replacement for standard UX processes. Use sprints to answer big questions and set/validate a direction. But don’t think of them as a magic pill. Design Sprints are most effective when they are integrated with other processes in the organization.

PRO TIP ⚡️ — Avoid Design Sprint pitfalls by ensuring the sprint challenge is well defined and aligned with the organizational goals. Learn more about Problem Framing and why is it crucial to sprint success.

Design Sprint Academy

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