What Are Design Sprints Used For?

Are Design Sprints something your business could benefit from? Absolutely! In this blog we take a look at a variety of reasons why you should consider a Design Sprint

George Barnes

Content Marketing Manager
·4 min read (1082 words)
Man sprinting

You’ve probably heard of Design Sprints by now. They’re quickly becoming an integral part of the innovation process used by successful businesses across the world. In fact, in our article about our approach to innovation, we talked about how we follow a very similar process when strategising and planning together as a team.

But, you might be wondering: how can a Design Sprint help me and my business? You may think you’re too small, or that you don’t do the kind of work that would require a Design Sprint. However, we’ve found that Design Sprints are useful in a huge number of situations and almost always offer benefits, no matter what your business does. 

So, in this blog we’ll take a look at some of the reasons that our clients have come to us for Design Sprints, giving you an idea of just how versatile this service is. 

Before we begin though, let’s do a quick recap of what Design Sprints are, for those who may not know already. (If you’re already familiar with Design Sprints, feel free to skip this next section.)

What are Design Sprints?

At the most basic level, a Design Sprint is an intensive, short period of design work, in which you take an idea from fruition all the way through to prototyping and user testing. It’s an innovative process that’s perfect for getting into a design thinking mindset and reducing the risk of your project - whatever that project is. 

Design Sprints are flexible and may look different from company to company, but generally they’ll be broken up into 5 stages:

- Exploring and understanding the problem

- Creating design solutions

- Choosing solutions that fit the brief

- Creating a realistic prototype 

- User testing 

A larger project may consist of multiple sprints, but a sprint should always have a tangible result.

Now that you have an idea of what a Design Sprint is, let’s look into the different situations you might encounter where they could help you.

When might I need a Design Sprint?

When testing new operational processes

Let’s say you’ve got an idea for a new business process. You think it might make you more efficient and save your team a lot of time — but you’re not 100% sure. In this example, you could use a 5-day Design Sprint to really test out that idea with a focused team that represents the people who will be involved in the final process. After just 5 days you can have the process thought out, put together (in a presentation for example) and tested with users. 

When you’ve got an idea, but it’s risky

Reducing risk is one of the key benefits of a Design Sprint. If you’re embarking on the development of a new product and it requires a large investment, then a Design Sprint can help to de-risk the project. By applying design thinking principles, you can quickly build a prototype of your product and test it with users. In one or two sprints you can make sure that any potential failings with the product are highlighted, as well as any UX issues. You can even repeat the sprint process throughout development to test any hypotheses that crop up during the process. 

When you have a need for speed

Got a project that needed to be finished yesterday? We’ve all been there! When you need to accelerate a project, it’s easy to let speed be the enemy of quality. With a Design Sprint however, you can get critical thinking baked in at the start of the project, quickly allowing you to progress to the next stage more quickly and confidently.

When you need to cut through to the heart of a complex problem

One of the underrated outcomes of a Design Sprint is simplification. When you’re trying to solve a complex problem for your workplace — whether it’s operational, research or production based — the design thinking approach of a Design Sprint can help you quickly get to the heart of your challenge, and devise a usable solution, all in a short space of time. 

When you know your problems, but can’t find solutions

Formulating solutions to your business challenges isn’t easy — and sometimes pinpointing your challenges isn’t easy either! You can use Design Sprints to help clarify both your most important challenges and the solutions to those challenges. By getting critical team members together you can use a Design Sprint to look holistically at your business and identify sticking points, and which challenges would give you the highest impact, with the lowest effort to solve. Then in another 5-day sprint, you can create a prototype of an ideal solution!

How else can Design Sprints be useful?

There are both practical and creative reasons why design sprints are useful for you and your business. Here’s how they can enhance your project:

1. A starting point for innovation

Design sprints are a great starting point for innovation. The product design process has historically been an incredibly slow, painful process. This could be because there are a large number of people involved in the project or simply waiting for higher-ups to approve/make decisions. Design sprints try to kickstart decision-making and design thinking by putting members of every team in the same room and designating one person to be the official “decider.” This process encourages communication and collaboration.

2. Create better user experiences, quickly

In the product design process, companies may take months or even years to develop a product before testing it with users and figuring out if it’s what their customers want. With a design sprint, the goal is to create a working prototype and test it with users within as short a time as possible—incorporating user feedback into the very beginning of the design process.

3. Increasing team cohesion 

Design sprints fundamentally change how teams work together, prioritising rapid ideation, iteration, and decision-making to keep the design process moving forward. Teams can apply the collaboration techniques they learn during design sprints to help team members work together more cohesively.

Want to organise a Design Sprint for your business?

Hopefully these use cases have shown you that Design Sprints are a supremely versatile tool, capable of helping you move forward at pace in a huge variety of situations. 

If you’d like to talk to us about how a Design Sprint could power change in your business, whether it’s for a specific project or in general, then be sure to get in touch today

I'm George Barnes

Content Marketing Manager at Newicon

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our best content. No spam, ever. Unsubscribe at any time.

Get in touch

Send us a message for more information about how we can help you