An Abridged, Two-Day Design Sprint: Feedback and Takeaways

I recently participated in a 'design sprint' for a new feature our team is building. This is Part 3 in my 3-part series - Takeaways and feedback from the design sprint. 

This series assumes you're already somewhat familiar with what a design sprint is, but perhaps you've never actually participated in one. If you're not familiar, read this 2-minute overview first.

This post describes takeaways from our abridged (two-day) design sprint, and what we could have done better.

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1 - Don't do any design iteration before the design sprint

Our team had already done some UX iteration on the customer problem prior to the design sprint, which proved detrimental to the process. It's best to come in with a clean slate.

We knew coming into our abridged design sprint that this was a possible problem, and we validated that it was.

2 - Everyone needs to do their homework beforehand

Some people in the group didn't dig deep enough into the 'homework' (overview of the problem, associated materials, current product that were sent out beforehand) before the 2-day design sprint. If it were a normal design sprint this wouldn't have been as much of a problem, since we would have had time to dig into these materials on Day 1. 

If you're going to shorten the design sprint, make sure everyone on the team reviews all available materials thoroughly prior to the meeting. While it's best to come into the design sprint with a clean slate (meaning, no UX or design iteration has yet been done), it's also best to for everyone to come in with a clear understanding of the problem(s) to solve.

3 - Have shorter sessions with 15 minute breaks

In order to keep everyone focused during a long day, we should have done 1.5 hour sessions with 15 minute breaks, and kept this consistent cadence, rather than trying to do 4 hour sessions at a time.

Everyone wants to check email, the weather, the World Cup score, but a design sprint requires that everyone be focused. Give everyone some time to check what they need, so they can stay focused during the sessions.

4 - More than 2 days are actually needed

A design sprint is meant to be 5 days for a reason. Everyone in the group mentioned that they felt we didn't spend enough time solving the problem. We didn't come out of it with a strong prototype (or the beginning of a prototype), which is the goal of a design sprint. It did give us a good start, but progress would have been much faster if we had been able to spend a full 4-5 days on the problem.

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