Do you have a great idea for a new product, but you’re not sure if it will work or how to build it? If this is what is bothering you, you might want to try an MVP design sprint. It is a fast and effective way that helps quickly validate your idea, prototype your solution, and get feedback about your product from real users before spending too much time and money on development. Usually, the process takes 3 to 5 days, but what if you don’t want to wait for so long and you need it yesterday? Let’s see if it is possible to shorten this period and get a good result.
Remembering Design Sprints Background
However, first of all, let’s remember what a Design Sprint even is. The concept was developed by Jake Knapp, who has since coached hundreds of teams on product strategy. He used design sprints to help companies to get started, get unblocked, and be able to develop new directions for their products and services. Sounds mind blowing, doesn’t it?
Indeed, MVP design sprints are a good way to develop a minimum viable product (MVP) and test it in a matter of days. An MVP is a version of a product that has the essential features to solve a user problem and provide value. And the method itself helps to solve complex issues and test new ideas in a collaborative way. It is based on the principles of design thinking and focuses on understanding the needs, emotions, and behaviors of the users.
Design sprints have been used by many organizations and teams across different industries, including Education, Healthcare, Finance, and more. It reduces the risk of failure and uncertainty, saves your company’s time and money, improves customer satisfaction and loyalty, and enhances communication and collaboration. According to Human1irst insights, this process saves at least 9 months in total. No wonder why design sprints are so popular.
We can highlight the following benefits that a design sprint provides:
- Fast and focused process. While traditional development may take a long road, design sprint gives all stakeholders quick insight in just a couple of days or hours by offering a realistic representation of future product;
- Immediate feedback. You don’t need to spend months and months of waiting until you are able to show your product to all of your stakeholders, let alone your target audience;
- Your team is fired up. This is a perfect option to spur everyone to activity and real actions without stopping on any small detail;
- Ability to see the whole picture. By not pausing on every small remark, design sprint helps to grasp the whole picture and find the middle ground right away.
Read Also Proof of Concept in Software Development: Viable Alternative to MVP and Prototyping
Long and Boring 5 Days of Creating a Prototype
The key focus of design sprints is to find a potential solution quickly in order to test it with end-users and then refine it, rather than to find the perfect product solution. In general, a sprint can last from 2 hours to 6 weeks, however usually, businesses choose to go for about 5 days. It gives an opportunity to have a validated prototype by the end of the week and then use it next week as a starting point for further software product development. This is the most popular type of the approach that follows a clear agenda and a set of rules. Let’s say your startup needs to move somewhere and you need the results as fast as possible, then these 5 days can be a perfect option. These days represent phases, each having a specific goal and a set of activities that help the team achieve it.
Day 1 – Understand
The first day is all about the preparations. You need to map out the problem, define the target audience and its needs, allocate roles among teammates, and plan further actions. Gathering the whole team and all stakeholders will be a great idea if you all want to be on the same page during the week.
Day 2 – Sketch
The next day is the day full of generating and sketching different ideas. Everybody needs to share as many product solutions as possible, so brainstorming, mind mapping, and storyboarding will bring you all your project requires.
Day 3 – Decide
On the third day, your team has to evaluate all ideas that were submitted previously and select the best solution. You can enable voting, weighing all pros and cons of each option. These activities will help you to understand your further course of action and develop a prototype that can be tested.
Day 4 – Prototype
Now, it’s time to build a realistic prototype of the product solution that was chosen. This is the process as you know it. Draw prototypes on paper, create wireframes and mockups, code the future product. For those who are interested, we have a separate article about the Prototyping in Software Development, where we covered intriguing details about the process and explored why it is necessary.
Day 5 – Validate
The last day of the working week will be about testing, testing, and testing again. You need to ensure that users are able to check the developed prototype in order to get feedback from them and know what to fix or which features may be not so useful as you thought earlier. It is not a rare scenario, which is why we also wrote an article about the art of maximizing value of a product covering such a possibility. Besides usability tests, interviews and surveys will also help to define what to cut out and where to move with your idea.
Before jumping into the week of brainstorming, sketching and prototyping, we recommend you to consider a few tips on how to make the process smooth:
- When choosing the participants and allocating responsibilities, ensure that a team has a leader and that you gathered all the needed specialists. Include people who like fast pace and frequent changes. Those who are resistant to change will be better for less chaotic tasks. Also, it will be almost like a full-cycle software development process but the one that shrinked to just several days, so you need to be sure that you have all the required specialists (developers, UI/UX designers, PMs, etc.);
- Ensure that all participants and stakeholders are always ready to communicate and work offline if needed and if possible during those days if you want to bring everyone on the same page;
- Be prepared for failing. A lot. This is the process of going back and forth, so your team needs to understand that every mistake and rejection is the way to success. “No pain – no gain”, “The darkest hour is just before the dawn” – all these and other sayings are not just gibberish of old men;
- And, don’t forget to provide your team with healthy and nutritious snacks and breaks, because everyone will need a lot of energy for all those activities.
Read Also Why Starting With Minimum Is Not Always a Bad Idea. How MVP Can Help Your Startup
So, what is boring about all that, you may ask? The process of design sprinting is aimed to help the team gain clarity on the problem, generate and evaluate multiple solutions, and test the most promising one with real users. But, what if 5 days seems like an eternity? For some companies, 5 days may seem not so worthwhile, because they want to see the result even sooner than just several days. This is when all the fun starts, because there is an option of creating a working prototype after only 2 hours. And, it is a really popular option known among different industries.
Considering a Popular 2-Hour Design Sprint
This type of design sprint caused quite a stir after Teresa Cain offered it to a wide public. Its goal is to solve a specific problem and test a product in a very short time. The design sprint method is based on the idea of “timeboxing”, which means setting a fixed amount of time for each activity and sticking to it. However, Teresa took this term to a whole new level changing 5 days to just 2 hours.
Does It Also Have 5 Phases?
No. There are 4 main phases, plus two supporting phases, such as pre-work and post-work, which basically help your team to prepare before those 2 hours and conclude the sprint afterwards. Based to Teresa’s method, there are 4 key phases that include the following:
- Intro and review. A team reviews agenda, problem statement, and basically checks all the details about the product that were prepared prior the sprint. The stage lasts for about 5 minutes.
- Empathize with customers.The stage lasts for 25 minutes, while everyone explores current pain points and needs of the customers and allocate them into two groups: “works well” and “doesn’t work” by adding notes to each point.
- Explore the problem. During the next 30 minutes, your team is supposed to think of ways to turn problems/challenges into opportunities, vote on them, and get consensus on the top problem.
- Ideate solutions. The last hour is all about sketching and grouping sketches into common themes. In order to get consensus and define the further steps of the team, everyone has to vote. Ending with a summary will also be a good idea.
After the 2-hour sprint, it all depends on the result you get. If the sprint was successful and you got to a common agreement, then you may proceed turning your prototype into an end product. If not, you may think about another 2-hour sprint.
Which Benefits Does This Method Have?
Well, it is definitely faster and cheaper than a traditional design sprint. It also helps teams to focus on the most important and urgent problems, while avoiding distractions and delays. The 2-hour design sprint can foster creativity and collaboration by challenging teams to come up with solutions under pressure and constraints. And, it can provide quick feedback and validation from users and stakeholders.
What Are the Drawbacks?
Unfortunately, such a short time can be stressful and exhausting for team members, especially if they are not used to working in such fast-paced and intense conditions. The method may also compromise the quality and depth of your product because of the inability to have enough time to research, prototype, and test suggested ideas. Besides that, it can limit the scope and complexity of the issues and/or solutions, as teams may have to simplify or omit some aspects of their challenges and proposals.
So, as you can see this approach has its flaws that can be vital for many companies. Therefore, it is important to understand if your team is able to carry out such a marathon.
Developing a software product and ensuring that it provides your customers with great user experience is a tough task. That is why, it is not a surprise why every company tries to create different methods that are able to minimize issues, mitigate risks, and speed up the development process. No one likes to wait, especially customers, who can find another business that already has what they need.
If you want to try the 2-hour design sprint and you have the required resources for this, go for it. If it looks a little shady, then choose the time that will be appropriate for your solution. In any case, you can always ask an IT outsourcing company to do the task for you. For example, you can contact us, and our experts will be ready to provide you with an MVP, prototype, or build a whole system based on your requirements. Thus, you won’t need to think about choosing between the methods at all.