How to Run 4-day or 3-day Design Sprints

5-day design sprint

What’s a 4-day design sprint?

Essentially, the 4-day sprint combines Day 1 and Day 2 into just one day. You will be mapping the goal and generating ideas on the same day. There are a few circumstances when you could afford to do this:

1. When your participants are not design sprint rookies

They’ve done them before and understand exactly what is needed and how the sessions are run. Part of the lag in a design sprint is briefing the participants on the agenda and rules and explaining each session as they are run. You can afford to cut down a lot of time if everybody already knows what to expect and understand the process.

2. When the facilitator is experienced

Experienced facilitators know how to run a sprint efficiently and navigate the process without compromising the result. They can deal with changes and setbacks and adjust accordingly. They know when to stay on a discussion, and when to move forward. In fact, I would argue that the facilitator is the crux of a successful shorter sprint.

3. When your challenge is well-defined and not complex

Designing a feature will require less time than designing a new product from scratch. With a feature, you have a history of use cases, feedback, and research to guide you. It’s up to you, but I wouldn’t recommend tackling a full product in just one condensed sprint. You can tackle it part by part if it’s complex, but not in 1 short sprint. You’re better off spending the full 5 days on it.

4-day design sprint

What’s a 3-day design sprint?

This version of the design sprint is reserved for iteration sprints only. An iteration sprint is one where you’re reviewing, improving, or fixing a solution that was already done in a previous sprint. You’re basically iterating for a better solution, to get it closer to what the user wants and needs, taking in the feedback and results from previous sessions.

3-day design sprint



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Alvin Hermanto

Alvin Hermanto


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