In our first article, we described our decision to switch business models. This iterating post will introduce you to our new bread and butter. We stuck with it as a way to help out with existing products and kick out new products on our own.


Hello Design Sprints

In our first article, we described our decision to switch business models. This iterating post will introduce you to our new bread and butter. We stuck with it as a way to help out with existing products and kick out new products on our own.

Design Sprint by [Maya Stepien](https://dribbble.com/mayastepien)Design Sprint by Maya Stepien

Understanding user problems is a big thing, we all experienced that. To validate solutions before building them and to see how customers react is what the Design Sprint is all about.

It’s a 5-day step-by-step recipe for testing new ideas. It starts with a big challenge and ends with an interactive prototype tested by real users at the end of the week.

What’s the background?

Product work is complex. We build, build, build, launch and — you guessed it — start polishing again. While that loop sort of never ends, focus sneaked out of the show.

To balance the “right now” work with the “coming soon” ideas in our pipeline is tough. We have to mind the team while minding the customer. Also, we’re busy dealing with the stakeholders’ desire for a perfect, gold-plated, dream product. And that costs a lot of time and money.

That’s where the Design Sprint is a relief. It’s like a vacuum time box. No phone calls, no e-mail, no meetings. Give up mind-shifting between various tasks. It’s one big challenge, a clean schedule, and a guiding process.

The Design Sprint by Jake Knapp at Google Ventures The Design Sprint by Jake Knapp at Google Ventures

Start with a keystone challenge

Let’s differ between two cases here.

  1. Existing products: Regarding your users’ perception, what makes you say: “If we get this right, it might lift up our product to the next level.”? E.g. to explain users your product better or to increase the engagement. The Sprint is there to experiment with different ways of doing that.

  2. New product ideas: You want to create a new product but there’s no concrete idea of how it should look like? Or what approach you should take with it? A Sprint helps to kick off the project.

Give up guesswork, pretend you launched

In agile you choose your best bet, build it as quickly as you can and launch it out. Then you gather the analytics. You have to choose one bet. It takes longer than you ever think it will. Later you might know that something works or doesn’t work. But it’s really hard to know why it doesn’t work. — Daniel Burka

Guessing, discussing and trying to convince the team on an idea without solid data is tricky. It increases the risk that users might get it wrong after launching. Instead, pretend you launched.

Go from having concepts of ideas to developing a realistic looking prototype. One that looks and feels like the real product. Or as Jake Knapp states it: “Get a lot of the benefits you would have gotten by launching with not launching at all but moving much more quickly.”

Rapid Prototyping — Random example with Google CalendarRapid Prototyping — Random example with Google Calendar

At the end of the week, the team has a high-fidelity prototype and a lot of insights. That prototype is a simulated version of the product. It appears realistic because you can swipe and tap but it’s the facade of the product.

Behind the curtains it doesn’t work, you can’t go down every path of the product. And that’s great because you only want to spend the time needed and not getting lost in the details.

It’s enough to know what the target user liked and what they didn’t understand. In case of success, it also serves as the visual spec for the development phase until launch.

Testing with real users

Drum-roll, please! On Friday, the last day of the Sprint, five target users will show up. We’ll test the prototype with them and see how the chosen solution performed. The team directly observes how the tester uses the prototype (or not) to meet their needs.

The User Researcher will guide the session. In the end, you won’t get that large scale quantitive data that you’ll get from launch. But it will help understand why things work or don’t work.

Farmhouse by [febin_raj](https://dribbble.com/Febinraj) for [Fireart Studio](https://dribbble.com/Fireart-d) Farmhouse by [febinraj](https://dribbble.com/Febinraj) for Fireart Studio_

You made it!

We won’t bore you with the Design Sprint details and the meaning of every exercise. The purpose of this article was to give you some insights. It’s a good use of time, leads to insights and takes away a lot of the guesswork (and risk) in product work.

Here are further resources related to the Design Sprint that inspired us:

Kevin Rose talks ‘Sprint’ with GV’s Jake Knapp and Daniel Burka: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1HBqlxQjZI

The Sprint Book by Jake Knapp with John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz: https://www.thesprintbook.com/how

Jonathan Courtney, Co-Founder & CEO of AJ&Smart: https://medium.com/@jicecream