Design Sprint for Beginners

What is a Design Sprint?

Design sprint is a 5-day structured process to solve a complex problem. And you have a user-validated prototype, or something close enough, by the end of day 5.

What is the difference between Design Thinking and Design Sprint?

Design thinking is a set of principles to help solve a complex problem.

When should you use Design Sprints?

1. When you have a complex or nagging problem

If there is a business problem that keeps popping up, or an intricate one, then it’s ripe for a design sprint. This happens often in large companies with cross-functional teams, or with products that cater to a variety of users.

2. When you may have a risky and expensive project

If the solution is likely looking like an excessive, resource-hungry, and costly affair, then you should run a design sprint for it.

3. When you take too long from idea to launch

This happens even in the best of companies. Sometimes an idea sits in cold storage for years, or an issue remains unresolved for months. Things get discussed, put on hold, and then end up sitting in a vortex of oblivion until something breaks and you get a feeling of déjà vu that you’ve talked about it before.

Is one Design Sprint enough?

When a problem is huge or extraordinarily complex, one design sprint will not be enough. You must run more sprints, or what I call follow-up sprints. These sprints could be about refining an idea or attacking the issue section by section based on a framework you’ve designed in the first sprint.

How long is a Design Sprint?

A standard design sprint takes 5 consecutive days, typically running from Monday to Friday, where everyone is fully committed throughout.

Who should be in a Design Sprint?

My design sprints are usually made up of a core team and expert members.

  • A facilitator — he or she does exactly that, facilitating the whole time, starting, ending, and moving things along when it’s time. They objectively keep things in check and make sure the sprint reaches its goal.
  • A decider — you can think of him or her as someone with veto power when there isn’t a clear-cut decision. This is usually a CEO, COO, product manager or someone who is responsible for the outcome of the solution.
  • 3–5 people (core team members) who will work together to produce solutions, build the prototype, and run user testing. They are usually designers, writers, UX experts, developers, testers, etc.

What tools do you need to run a Design Sprint?

You need a room that is large enough for everyone to work comfortably over 5 days. The basic room setup includes tables, chairs, a whiteboard, and a large amount of wall space to display all your work.

  • A timer for the facilitator. Smartphones work fine too.
  • Sharpies or whiteboard markers
  • Chalks if you’re using a blackboard
  • Post-it notes
  • Stickers for everyone. We use this to vote, set priorities and identify things.
  • Paper for people to write or sketch.
  • Masking tapes to tape the paper on to your walls
  • Snacks
  • An open mind and a positive attitude

What is the Design Sprint process?

What is a Design Sprint preflight?

  • Define the problem.
  • Define who the users are, using user personas.
  • Define the current user experience.

Day 1: Mapping

Objective: Plot the problem and identify the most important goal

  1. Listing several goals that addresses the issue.
  2. Asking questions to find potential obstacles and risks in achieving those goals
  3. Mapping out the user journey for each goal
  4. Interviewing experts to get more information on the goals and user journey map.
  5. Prioritising the goals to identify the primary goal, or golden goal.

Day 2: Brainstorming

Objective: Generate a selection of ideas to achieve your primary goal identified in Day 1.

  1. Gathering and showcasing inspiration, and similar ideas or solutions.
  2. Coming up with several ideas based on the previous showcase.
  3. Filter out irrelevant or subpar ideas.

Day 3: Deciding

Objective: Vote on the best idea to pursue

  1. Ideas are laid out on a board.
  2. Question each idea further to refine them.
  3. Participants will vote on which they like the most.
  4. The decider has the veto vote if there is a deadlock.
  5. Prepare for prototyping through story boards, user flow charts or design mock-ups.

Day 4: Prototyping

Objective: Build a low or high-fidelity prototype for user testing.

  1. The core team spends the day developing the prototype.
  2. Experts will provide feedback throughout the day.
  3. Outline user test cases for the next day.

Day 5: Testing

Objective: Test the prototype to get user feedback

  1. Conduct user testing
  2. Collect comprehensive user feedback and opinions.

What is Design Sprint 2.0?

Design sprint 2.0 is a shorter version of the original design sprint. Instead of spending 5 days on it, you can condense it to 3 or 4 days.



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Alvin Hermanto

Alvin Hermanto


Family first // Principal @relabstudios // Customer-obsessed digital design agency // Design sprint advocate // Melbourne // Say hello @alhermanto