Why a prototyping company uses Design Sprints

Methodologies 4 min read

Wouldn’t it be obvious for a prototyping company to use Design Sprints? After all, the goal of a Design Sprint is to create a prototype for users to test and gain feedback. Then why did we only just start doing Design Sprints at Craftworkz after two years of development?

What is a Design Sprint?

A Design Sprint is a five day process for solving critical business questions with the help of five phases. Each phase is dedicated to a day. The five phases go as follows:

Design sprint phases
Design sprint phases

Understand phase 🚧

People (and especially developers) love to start building solutions right away (or a trillion nice-to-have features). 👩🏻‍💻👨🏻‍💻 The risk you’re taking here is that you end up with a lot of super cool ideas, but none of them actually seal the deal or solve the initial problem.

The goal of the understand phase is to take a take a broader look at the problem you’re trying to solve. This is the moment where you’ll share your knowledge and prioritise your ideas. The first question to ask is: “Why are we doing this project?”, “Where do we want to be in 6 weeks, 6 months or even a year from now?”

You’ll set a long term goal you want to achieve and list some sprint questions you want to be solved by the end of the week.

Sketch phase 🎨

This is the phase to come up with solutions (yay! 🤩). We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, so the first step is to look at existing solutions and get some inspo elsewhere.

Then it’s time to sketch! Yes, everyone will draw out their ideas on paper.

Sketch phase
Sketch phase

Decide phase ↔️

A lot of solution sketches are generated and you can’t prototype them all. So you’ll have to make some decisions and draw the final sequence on a storyboard.

Storyboarding
Storyboarding

When there are two winners, it’s possible to prototype both of them and let them compete against each other in the test phase.

The key 🗝 here is to not make decisions based on group brainstorming and judging each other ideas, but by voting. The voting technique is used throughout the Design Sprint; every participant receives a certain amount of dot stickers and can vote on an idea by pasting their vote on it.

Prototype phase 🔧

(aka the “fake it till you make it” phase 🔫)

What I mean by fake it till you make it is: you’ll need to build a prototype (or even two) on a very short time notice. You want the thing to be real enough for your user to test in the next phase and you don’t want to spend the whole night working on it.

Fun fact: the more time you spend on an idea, the more you become attached to it and the less you’re open to (negative) feedback.

Test phase 📈

FINALLY. It’s time to put your prototype to the test.

On the first day (or during the first phase) it is somebodies job to gather five interviewees. Why five? At five interviews you’ve gained the most important feedback and the same remarks will keep recurring.

The video below perfectly explains how you should interview your test audience to get the maximum feedback out of them.

Why did we just start running Design Sprints?

Our customers come to us with the most crazy ideas: from a movie theater chatbot to a talking car taking its own job interviews to an AI based solution which automatically links similar employee competences and of course everyone loves doing projects with our Pepper 💘.

Our projects can be very diverse you see… 👀

Because we only build POC’s, Prototypes and MVP’s we never spend more than about six to eight weeks on a project. We thought our business approach already was the most optimal way to find out if your idea could work of not. Of course we’ve always worked via the Agile principles: Agile development is a great way to cope with uncertainty in product development. There is absolutely no need to specify every little detail of an idea immediately and there is plenty of room for steering along the way. But even when spending six weeks on a project and handling an Agile approach, the outcome can be that the idea isn’t ready for the market yet or it just wasn’t worth the effort and money.

Then how did we come up with the idea of running Design Sprints?

A Design Sprint is not a method for getting a more sophisticated product development effort done for less money and time.

Last year, during my internship at Craftworkz, I stumbled upon The Design Sprint book. 🏃🏾I did some research and ran a Design Sprint myself with some other interns. Turns out that a Design Sprint could be a perfect pre-prototyping phase!

I would love to tell you more about how exactly we run Design Sprints at Craftworkz. More on that later… in a new blogpost! 📫

Want to read more about our stories, or about the prototypes we build, please checkout our other blogposts here.

Craftworkz methodologies
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