Design Sprint - Solving Problems Really Fast!
The Design Sprint – The very first time I came across this word was at a UX Design conference in Berlin. Unbeknown to me, was the concept of using a UX Design sprint to rapidly develop prototypes. Also, testing them on real users to get real data. Ironically, while my wife Freda was studying UX design principles, I was aimlessly testing my own ideas, products and services. Though, without any real direction, plan or process to validate them – properly!
Now fast forward to 2021! One would be right to assume that this method of rapidly developing prototypes is more important than ever. Especially, for teams to quickly ascertain a viable product (MVPs) and the direction their product or service should go.
UX Design in a post-covid world
One thing is for sure, no one anticipated that the entire world would be disrupted, businesses would close and jobs would be lost. Fortunately, Freda and I returned to Australia and decided to take up residency on the Sunshine Coast. Which at the time of writing this article has no cases of the coronavirus. Coincidently, we moved into the same building as another lead product designer here on the Sunshine Coast.
It did not take long for the creative minds to realise there was a need for UX design in a post-covid world. The design sprint would be the next logical step for this small team of creatives. Led by Jackson Beale, we aimed to solve some big problems for local businesses on the Sunshine Coast. With the intention to broadcast these learnings for bigger companies who may be less inclined to be so nimble.
What is a design sprint?
A method of innovation invented by former Google employee Jake Knapp. The definition of a design sprint is a time-constrained, five-phase process that uses design thinking with the aim of reducing the risk when bringing a new product, service or a feature to the market. The process aims to help teams to clearly define goals, validating assumptions and deciding on a product roadmap before starting development. It seeks to address strategic issues using interdisciplinary, rapid prototyping, and usability testing. This design process is similar to Sprints in an Agile development cycle.
By the same token, using a UX design process when running a design sprint will not only eliminate the same risk, but also ensure the product or service being tested focuses on the actual user. Moreover, UX design principles include User Journey Mapping, Empathy Maps and User Personas and this is exactly the tools for UX design implemented during this post-covid experiment.
UX Design Sprint Planning
When JacksonBeale.Design came to us and asked if we would join his team it was a perfect fit. Collaborating with professional UX designers from around the world was a dream for Freda, and my involvement with online marketing experience brought what I hoped would be a unique value proposition to the table.
From the get go we shaped the Business Model Canvas before commencing design sprints. It is important to note, this is a vital step into identifying possible problems and also interpreting - without the need of explanation, what the client's business is actually about. Obviously, if the interpretation aligns with the clients own description of business model, we have a benchmark of where to begin. If not, then a rapid 90 minute workshop quickly identifies unanimously, where the focus of the design sprint should be. This is the “Rapid Innovation (or strategy) workshop from AJ&Smart.
While a design sprint can rapidly test and design a product within as little as 4 days, there is actually quite a bit of planning and preparation the week before the sprint. As mentioned above, a detailed level of discovery should take place in order to have alignment with all participants that will take part in the sprint.
The actual sprint week is the 2nd week (for the facilitators). This is part of the UX design process where all stakeholders, industry experts and design teams (such as JustGo.Design and JacksonBeale.Design) get together and intensely flesh out problems, brainstorm new ideas, and push the boundaries of product innovation.
An outsider's perspective on the UX Design Process
As previously mentioned, having a UX designer wife, being part of the UX design process with other industry experts was a huge learning curve for me. However, as we wrapped up both design sprints I immediately saw the value in this process and how it can be applied to almost any business model. All in all, I am grateful that I got the opportunity to work underneath these experts and moving forward we will take these UX insights into industries previously uncharted.