Run a Design Sprint, Build a Better Website

By Alyssa Wyngard, Interactive Designer

Published: October 5, 2017

Ever feel bogged down by a lengthy and mundane design process? You need a design sprint, not a design stroll.

A design sprint is a five-phase framework that helps answer critical business questions through rapid prototyping and user testing. GV, formerly Google Ventures, coined the process in 2010. GV created a frankenstein of processes, taking the best aspects of many different research methods to stitch together the paramount design sprint.

The Process

A “by the book” design sprint consists of five days:

  1. Map — Set goals and begin to understand challenges. Start to draw a path for the week.
  2. Sketch — Fully understand challenges and pick a target for the week. Start sketching possible solutions.
  3. Decide — Vote on solutions and choose the ones you think best fit the long-term goal. Then, you’ll create a customer journey for each of the solutions chosen.
  4. Prototype — Create a prototype (just a realistic facade) to test with users.
  5. Test — Test your prototype and learn via interviews and observing customer reactions where to go next, whether it’s forward or back to the drawing board.

Not Your Average Meeting

The nature of design sprints creates a space for team members outside of production to collaborate, reach goals and create solutions to project challenges. The multidisciplinary approach gives designers ideas from all different perspectives, making the final product more holistic.  

Design sprints differ from brainstorming by taking many of the ideas that the group shouts out and thoroughly testing them to find the winner. Traditional brainstorming typically ends with the single “winning” idea being something that everyone agrees upon, not necessarily making it the best solution.

Save Time, Saving Money

“Five days! No way!” Sure, five consecutive days seem like a lot, but let’s talk about the time you’ll save in the long run. It is said that developers waste 50 percent of their time reworking projects, impacting not only cost of development, but design as well.

Design sprints allow a team is able to test many ideas in the phase that allows the most flexibility. They allow you to uncover potential problems with your product by testing before build and launch instead of after. Compare this to fixing design flaws in a home during the blueprint process, rather than when construction is already underway.

Not Just for Design

The design sprint process is adaptable and agile; everyone runs them differently. Moreover, design sprints aren’t just for design. A sprint can be used for creating content or talking business strategy. Design sprints are a flexible framework that allows companies to be fast, efficient and build a better website, better products, better strategy.

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