Using The Design Sprint to Build Digital Ventures at Velocity
Developed by the team at Google Ventures, the Design Sprint takes the Agile sprint concept and it applies it to the early stages of a software project.
Today’s software applications or digital ventures get crafted faster than ever before. The reasons for this improved velocity remain numerous, but modern development methodologies like Agile play a key role. In Agile or similar methodologies, the sprint encapsulates a period of time used for completing a list of scheduled work.
Developed by the team at Google Ventures, the Design Sprint takes the Agile sprint concept and it applies it to the earliest stages of a software development project. The goal of this approach involves compressing the months of time spent determining the initial design of a project into one week.
At the end of this week, users get a chance to test drive an initial prototype of the application, focusing on the UI. This ensures the project stakeholders and technical team reside on the same page. Expect a more successful project outcome as a result.
So let’s look more closely at the Design Sprint and how 923 Digital uses it as part of our software development methodology. It enables us to create enthralling digital ventures with speed, efficiency, and quality. Simply put, following this approach helps us achieve great things for our clients.
Supercharging the Software Design Process
As noted earlier, the beginning of most modern software projects largely involves a back and forth with stakeholders on goals, requirements, and maybe an initial design. No actionable feedback happens until the delivery of a prototype, possibly months into the future. Fixing any misassumptions at this point costs much more compared to those caught at the beginning.
Following the Design Sprint approach effectively supercharges this critical portion of the software development lifecycle. Over the period of five days, the tech team and business stakeholders work together determining the project goals and initial design concept. Most important is that working prototype, allowing user to test the efficacy of the concept and initial design.
Again, fixing any issues at this point in the project provides significant cost savings compared to after the launch of the digital venture. Both the stakeholders and technical feel confident about the project’s prospects moving forward. The extra transparency also helps foster a true sense of teamwork among all parties. Now, let’s look more closely at each day of a Design Sprint.
Monday: Determine the Goals and Map the Entire Sprint
The first day of the sprint focuses on figuring out the end goals for the digital venture – essentially “starting at the end.” The entire team identifies the overarching problem the project attempts to solve. Ideas between the technology team and client get shared in a brainstorming fashion. Importantly, everyone must agree on an achievable target goal to be delivered at the end of the week.
Once the week’s end-goal gets determined, the whole team works to map out the activities for the rest of the sprint. Leveraging a visual representation of this map helps the overall understanding of the week’s work.
Tuesday: Focus on Crafting the Initial Designs
The Tuesday work focuses on the initial designing of the solution for Friday’s prototype. The team reviews the ideas from Monday as well as other concepts from similar digital ventures. Using information from these reviews, the team makes enhancements to the initial design as necessary.
In the afternoon, each team member works individually on design sketches detailing their own take on a solution for the prototype. At this point, focus on defining critical ideas as opposed to perfect-looking design concepts. Also spend time recruiting customers for testing Friday’s prototype. Try to identify persons matching the user profile for the solution.
Wednesday: Choosing One Solution to Storyboard
Wednesday’s major task involves selecting the top option from Tuesday afternoon’s solution brainstorming. Spend time vetting each solution; trying to determine which one best solves the underlying business problem. The final choice ends up being built as the prototype for Friday’s customer demo.
During the afternoon, focus on crafting a storyboard using the best design sketches from the previous day. Even consider using scenes from solutions that didn’t get picked. Whatever scenes work best as part of the Friday prototype are the right choice.
Thursday: Transforming the Storyboard into the Prototype
The critical task for Thursday involves transforming Wednesday’s storyboard into a functioning prototype for the customer demo. Building a working user interface serving as a façade for the app becomes the main focus. One day obviously leaves little time for building a functional back-end.
Also spend time testing and reviewing the prototype. Create a basic interview template used to glean opinions from the customers exploring the app. Finalize Friday’s schedule and make sure the team is ready for the big day.
Friday: Customers Test the Prototype Solution
All the hard work spent during the week pays off Friday with the customer demo. Make sure to capture their opinions during the interview. Consider videoing the sessions to provide a valuable resource for the rest of the project lifecycle. The project team can now take the next steps in a confident and informed fashion.
923 Digital leverages The Design Sprint to make the process of crafting digital ventures faster and more effective. Check out our case study detailing the mobile app built for Festival Solutions. It provides a perfect example illustrating how we built a compelling solution for the client and their festival attendees. Be sure to connect with us to help bring your organization’s great ideas to fruition.