How design sprints enable organisations to build better products
By Antoine Marin

Wall of user stories in New York workshop

The challenges of creating a new product are numerous and the path to success is rarely straightforward. Choosing the right process and partner to support you along this journey is a critical strategic decision.

At nearForm we work hand-in-hand with companies, helping them overcome some of their biggest challenges. For example; limited budget, resources, or customer knowledge. Our approach is simple. We focus the product design process on the user feedback loop. As Winston Churchill once said: “Facts are better than dreams”.


Focus, focus, focus

Success in new developments comes from concentrating on the core value of your product. But formalising this can be hard.

The five-day Design Sprint is one of the best ways to achieve this. At the beginning of a project, all stakeholders are gathered around the table. Business, design, technical stakeholders and, later in the week, the user. All are united in the pursuit of one unique endeavour: Defining the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

As a partner, nearForm provides clients with not just the strategy but also the skillset that will be the backbone of your project. Whether it’s mobile, design, front- or back-end expertise, we build the team for your success.

This design process originates from Google Ventures. It has allowed companies such as Medium, Slack or Nest to build bigger, better and faster solutions.


A 5 Day sprint

Here’s a sample breakdown of how it works :

Monday is a day for the product owner to expose the problem they are trying to solve. This is also the time to discuss it with the experts around the table. Personas representing user groups are designed and a journey map created.

Tuesday is a space for solution exploration. Pros and cons of existing solutions, ideation workshop, sketching out everything is strongly encouraged.

Wednesday is the time to review the previous day’s ideas, rank concepts and sketch the main concept.

On Thursday the testable prototype is built, technical roadmap defined and the elevator pitch finalised. The prototype is usually built in InVision®.

Friday is the day to test the prototype with potential customers, end users. It’s the time your assumptions face reality.

Laptop screen with Invision prototype The Invision prototype is one of the deliverables of the Week.

Whiteboard with persona sketch

The persona helps stakeholders think from the audience’s point of view.


So what makes a successful design sprint?

Here are a few learnings from our own experience.

Free up your calendar We recognize that five days is a big commitment. However, this is the most efficient way to do it. It ensures constant progress, holistic discussions and avoids misalignments. It’s also a great team building exercise.

Concentrate on your audience and outcomes, not on features Quite often, the discussion starts around a feature set. This is a mistake, as features are solutions to problems that haven’t been identified. We always take a step back to the customer needs that the solution is trying to solve. Throughout the week, the user’s point of view serve as the reference.

Recognize and minimize assumptions During the week, assumptions are made. It can be around user’s technical skills, their availability to use a product, their environment, etc. Most of these are assumptions that must be recognised as such. Regular testing with users will help you validate it… or not.

The insights gained during this week are countless for all stakeholders. The Minimum Viable Product is defined, and with it, the viability, feasibility and desirability of the project. All in all, the perfect foundation for a successful product and team collaboration.

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