Design sprints produce UX design-led results

There are a multitude of issues you can encounter when working to create or improve a digital product - problems that are surprisingly common for any businesses with an existing digital platform or those in the process of creating one. Constraints on time and a lack of resources can make it difficult to determine what can be done with the tools you have at your disposal.

How can you make something beautifully user-focused while ensuring those design choices have sufficient ROI and help the business meet its goals? Even if you know how you want to do it, how are you going to come to an agreement with your teammates and people in other departments who all have their own ideas on what should be done? It’s time to introduce them to a method that is guaranteed to get results without risks, working overtime, and with everyone in agreement. It’s time to introduce your team to the Design Sprint.

A well-balanced workout

A Design Sprint isn’t just for designers, despite what the name suggests. It’s a results-oriented, business-driven, industry-agnostic framework for product creation that benefits from the input of all departments and disciplines involved in the digital product creation journey. Through rapid innovation and iteration, a design sprint produces UX design-led results. Using structured blocks of sprints inspired by the Agile methodology created by Google Ventures, with a healthy dose of behavioural science, a well-run design sprint is an intense, one-week…. well, sprint, used to identify product pain points and create effective, actionable solutions for them.

It’s a sprint, not a marathon

The basis for the universally applicable nature of design sprints lies with design thinking. Asking yourself about the who, what, why, and where of how users interact with your product - in other words, thinking like a designer - is the best foundation anyone can lay for a structurally sound digital product. Metaphorically speaking only of course, as the whole point of a design sprint is that no product needs to be built, no code needs to be written. It’s all about staying focused on the ideas; asking those big questions on what your users want (or who they even are!) that matters,

The way these quickly created but thoroughly validated design choices are made in a design sprint is through a concept known as Lean UX. Unlike UX design in the traditional sense, Lean UX is less about bulky, detailed deliverables and more about creating changes that improve your product immediately. Pairing Lean UX concepts with Agile development methodology results in a design process that is perfectly geared towards quickly creating effective solutions that product owners and users alike will be happy with.

Running laps

The core objective of a design sprint is to repeatedly obtain immediate feedback on ideas, and using them to make quick, informed decisions on how to progress. In this way, much like Agile development sprints, the Lean UX inspired goal of design sprints is to work in rapid, iterative cycles, with the information generated informing each successive iteration. This focused, quickfire ideation and validation process requires a great level of collaboration with everyone in the design sprint team. A good design sprint is structured to facilitate this by running the sprint in blocks that are designed to keep participants on task.

The design sprint centres around breaking down the product goals and user journeys into easily recognisable sections, identifying their pain points in order to quickly assess them, and creating the best, most actionable ways to solve them. The process occurs over several days in a workshop environment where tasks are structured in a way that provides everyone with an opportunity to voice their ideas, concerns, and opinions.

Design sprints produce solutions to the most pressing issues a digital product has by following a cyclical process of iteration and validation of ideas:

Identifying problems

Outlining user, product, and business goals
Identifying pain points in the user journey

Evaluating problems

Defining the problems created by pain points
Evaluating the negative impact of problems on product goals

Creating solutions

Brainstorming ideas
Evaluating the effectiveness of ideas
Voting for the most popular ideas

Validating solutions

Determining the impact and feasibility of idea implementation
Identifying solutions to move forward with

Finalising solutions

Mapping out user journeys for final solutions
Planning the next steps for MVP creation or solution implementation

This methodical, iterative structure results in not only solutions that answer the most relevant questions about what your users need and how to give it to them, but also how to get started on delivering those solutions.

Making great time

Birthing flawless, functional, and fundamentally solid solutions to digital product design issues with a UX design sprint is completely feasible. But what about ensuring that the needs of the business aren’t overshadowed by those of the user? Luckily, understanding business needs is a foundational aspect of design sprints. They allow you to create improvements now, not just doodle up lists of deliverables for a distant later time. This is ideal for ensuring a quick return of investment.

Setting goals and responding to business needs is also the key to ensuring that you walk away from a design sprint with actionable solutions that are good for the product as well as the business. Solutions to problems are prioritized by the risk involved if they are not addressed and resolved, ensuring that the most critical issues are focused on.

To ensure that no one person or department is dominating this discussion and that all facets of these issues are addressed, identifying problems, creating ideas, and curating solutions involves all members of the sprint. Ideas are assessed primarily through a system of votes to ensure that focus is kept on what is most relevant to the product and business. If necessary, some votes (a supervote) can be given to primary stakeholders, project managers, or lead designers, to further ensure that business goals remain prioritised.

Running for gold

Design sprints are a time and resource efficient way of creating a digital product or improving an existing one with few risks but great results. They focus on user and business needs, identifying the real problems, and benefit from having the insight and experience of a broad spectrum of creators and stakeholders creating and assessing ideas in an environment designed for harmonious collaboration. In design sprints, the final solutions brought forward are user focused, business goal oriented, and have the full product team on board.

If you’re curious about design sprints and want to know more about how to run one, contact us today, or follow us on twitter or LinkedIn to be the first to hear when our new free digital product development tool is released

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Martin Sandhu
Founder – martin@nuom.co.uk