What’s the difference between Design Sprints and Design Thinking?

What's the difference between design thinking and design sprints? It's small, but significant. Find out in our latest blog article.

George Barnes

Content Marketing Manager
·2 min read (414 words)
An architect's blueprint for a building project


In previous blogs, we’ve covered what Design Sprints are and how they can help your business. And it’s clear that Design Thinking plays a large part in the Design Sprint process. In fact, the two can feel very similar. But it’s useful to know the difference, as occasionally you might need one and not the other! So, let’s go over what the difference is between Design Sprints and Design Thinking. 

The toolbox and the architect

If you’re familiar with Newicon at all you’ve probably heard us talk about our architecture phase. This is the phase of our work where we create what’s essentially the blueprint for an agile project — gathering information, thinking about data flows etc. So, with that in mind, we thought we’d continue the analogy as it actually works very well when looking at the difference between Design Sprints and Design Thinking. 

In this analogy Design Thinking is the toolbox.

Design Thinking is essentially a framework that works like a set of tools — each with a very specific purpose.     

Design Thinking is, at its heart, an attempt to learn how to think like a designer, so that other problems can be tackled in an effective way. It’s usually broken down into 5 phases:

•  Empathise

•  Define

•  Ideate

•  Prototype

•  Test

By breaking down your process of thinking into these 5 steps, you start to think like a designer. Each of the steps is a tool to help you tackle an element of a challenge in a different way. 

So, over all, the Design Thinking philosophy is something to internalise, giving you a toolbox to tackle anything that's thrown at you. 

How do we get from the toolbox to the architect?      

Well, if Design Thinking is the toolbox, then you need something to build with your tools, and that’s where the architect comes in.  

The Design Sprint is the equivalent of an architect's plans for a building project, where you use every tool in your box to get the job done — all with a specific goal in mind. The toolbox without a specific building plan is just a box.

Essentially a Design Sprint is a focussed period of time — usually 10 days per sprint — where you use all your design thinking tools. 

What next?

If you'd like to find out more about Desing Sprints and how they can elevate your software or website project, then send us a message and we'll get back to you. 



I'm George Barnes

Content Marketing Manager at Newicon

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