August 20, 2014

Off to the Races: Getting Started With Design Sprints

Alok Jain, Director of User Experience Design at 3Pillar Global, recently wrote an article for Smashing Mag titled “Off to the Races: Getting Started With Design Sprints.” The article talks about the changing industry outlook on design thinking in today’s software development market. The typical notion that design is done once at the beginning of an engagement and never touched again is proving to be outdated. Like product development, product design has slowly shifted to a more lean approach. This means breaking down objectives into a series of smaller experiments whose outputs inform future decision-making.

Alok digs deep into the current limitations and downsides of current design approaches, stating that the traditional design approach focuses on figuring out the upfront effort of a project to define the big picture and the core design language, which informs and guides the detailed design for various features. Instead of investing time and effort for research and testing, this method can mean investing more in development work to accelerate time to market, negatively affecting a product’s overall quality.

There’s a simple solution to mitigating the inherent limitations of current design approaches. If the process can be modified in such a fashion that design direction evolves over a period of time, product teams would be allowed to start developing sooner and adjust direction based on new learning and ideas. This process is what is known to us as a design Sprint. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s very similar in practice to agile development methodologies where sprints are used to break up the overall product vision into smaller sets of goals.

By using the design sprint approach, design teams will be able to take advantage of things that might not have been present in the typical design process. This includes having built-in momentum from one solved problem to the next, increased collaboration on activities that directly contribute to the product’s development, and the encouragement of exploration and risk-taking to solve complex problems.

What are some other advantages of design sprints? What is the ideal team set up to fully take advantage of what this approach has to offer? Read the full article on the Smashing Magazine website to find out how you can get started on the road to design sprints and better end products as a result.