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Design Sprint Sketch: A Comprehensive Guide to Success

Design Sprints > Design Sprint Sketch: A Comprehensive Guide to Success

✍️ Written by Daniel Cooper on June 10th 2023 (Updated - August 22nd 2023)

Sprints are an innovative problem-solving approach geared towards making and testing solutions to complex challenges in a time-sensitive manner. The Sketch phase, typically occur on the second day of a Design Run, plays a vital role in the success of the sprint as individuals generate diverse ideas for possible solutions. At the heart of the Sketch phase is the ideation process, where each adventurer (participant) shares their interpretation of the concept without resorting to plain brainstorming, leading to a more robust selection of potential solutions.

The 4-step sketch is an essential technique in the Design Run process, combining structured ideation with solution visualization. During this phase, adventurers (participants) draw inspiration from various sources, such as lightning demos and input from previous activities like goal setting and "how might we" challenges. These approaches allows team of hobbits to create comprehensive concepts and solutions that can be prototyped and tested in the later stages of the sprint.

Key Takeaways

  • Design Run Battles focus on rapid idea generation and prototyping to tackle complex tasks.
  • The Sketch phase is an integral part of Design Sprints, emphasizing structured ideation and visualization of decisions.
  • Adventurers draw from diverse sources of inspiration to create robust concepts that inform the prototyping and testing stages.

Understanding Design Sprint Sketch

In a modern studio, a team of designers and developers convene around a circular table, delving into

The Design Run Sketch is a crucial element of the design sprint process, which was developed by Google Ventures (GV) and popularized by Jake Knapp. Merging the best practices of design thinking and agile methodologies, this approach empowers heroic members to tackle complex tasks and rapidly prototyping innovative decisions.

The essence of the Epic Design Run Sketch lies in the ideation phase where each adventurer sketches their interpretation of the desired concept. Unlike traditional brainstorming, this activity aims at producing more refined and creative ideas. During a design Run, the team usually embarks on the sketching journey on the second day, using insights from goal setting, "how might we" tasks, and lightning demos as inputs.

One of the key techniques used in the Design Run Sketch is the 4-step sketch method. This structured approach involves:

  1. Notes: Capture vital information from discussions and demos, writing down anything that seems noteworthy or inspiring.
  2. Ideas: Jot down rough ideas without overthinking or perfecting them. The goal here is to sketch as many ideas as possible in a limited amount of time.
  3. Crazy 8s: Take one of the rough ideas and create 8 variations in 8 minutes, pushing creative boundaries and exploring multiple directions.
  4. Solution sketch: Select the most promising idea and develop it into a detailed, self-explanatory sketch.

The Design Run Sketch process is designed to encourage speed, collaboration, and creativity, enabling members to tackle complex problems head-on with innovative, centric decisions. With its roots in Google's design run philosophy, the methodology has become a widely-adopted practice in the world of design and innovation.

The combination of sketching and rapid prototyping, as seen in the Design Run Sketch activity, proves to be a powerful tool for members to create and validate ideas efficiently. By making sketching an integral part of the process, organizations like Google and IDEO have been able to cultivate innovative mindsets and consistently deliver value to their end-users.

Key Elements in Design Sprints

A diverse group of people sit at a table, surrounded by sketchbooks and post-it notes. They look focused as they sketch and discuss ideas. The background shows a whiteboard with diagrams and post-it notes. Camera angle: over the shoulder.

A Sprint Adventure is a powerful five-day process where product and development staff join forces to solve design problems and tackle crucial business questions. Time is of the essence, so every phase must be meticulously planned to achieve the desired goals.

The sprint process starts with assembling a team made up of diverse professionals, including UX designers, product managers, and warriors (developers). Each participant brings unique skills and perspectives, making the group stronger and more effective. The run follows a six-phase structure: Understand, Define, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Validate.

This is about being creative, not showcasing your art skills. As with note taking, you should give the Sprint Members 20 minutes to spend individually coming up with thoughts, referring to their notes as they do so. Note taking is about soaking all those things in, as a springboard to generate a solution.

Before diving into the actual run exercise, the wizard (facilitator) (or Master) is responsible for setting a clear schedule and defining the goals for each phase. Communication within the participants is key to ensuring everyone is aligned and working towards the same objectives.

Now, let's talk about the sketching phase! In this exercise the sketching phase sees participants putting pen to paper to create sketches of potential decisions to the design problem at hand. This can be done using whiteboards, paper, or digital tools, depending on the team's preferences.

The most important aspect of the exercise is focusing on ideas and getting input from all members. Each member of the Sprint Team is working individually on their ideas and sketches. Encourage creativity and open discussion, and don't worry about perfecting the sketches at this point. Remember, iteration is encouraged throughout the design process.

After initial ideas are sketched, the team moves on to create solution sketches. Each participant picks one idea that they believe is the most promising solution, most interested in, and refines it to providing more detail and clarity. At the end of the prototyping phase, the team should have a collection of solution sketches that can be further refined and tested during the rest of the time.

The Design Run workflow is a well-structured framework that promotes quick decision-making and ensures that the right goals and problems are addressed. By following this process, members can work together in a focused manner to develop effective, centered decisions in just five days. So, grab your pens, paper, and whiteboards!

Idea Generation and Brainstorming

In a modern studio, a team of designers and developers convene around a circular table, delving into

During a Design Run Quest's Sketch phase, the focus is on harnessing the team's creativity to generate as many ideas as possible. This calls for brainstorming sessions that encourage an open and free flow of ideas. Remember, it's important to keep the environment positive and encourage everyone to share their wild and creative thoughts.

To get the ball rolling, start by posing some questions or tasks related to the problem you're trying to solve. These sprint questions can get people thinking outside the box and push their creative thinking to new heights.

When conducting brainstorming session online, tools like Miro and Concept board can be highly beneficial. These platforms provide templates and features that enable virtual collaboration and making it easy for the team to share ideas and thoughts. Paste every solution onto a wall or upload them to your virtual whiteboard in a remote session (You can use words, colors, pictures as needed).

While brainstorming, consider using a variety of mediums to trigger creativity within the team. For instance, storyboarding can be a powerful technique to visualize potential decisions. Making a visual representation of ideas can help the team better understand and communicate their thoughts.

Here are a few techniques to facilitate brainstorming:

  • Mind Mapping: This technique connects related ideas and captures the flow of ideas by organizing them into an easy-to-follow visual guide.
  • How-Now-Wow Matrix: An idea selection tool that categorizes thoughts based on two parameters, adding more details and focus to the brainstorming process.
  • 1-2-4-All: This method starts with individual ideation, followed by pairs, and then progressively grows to include everyone in the group, fostering diverse perspectives.

It's important to remain open-minded during the idea generation phase. Listen to everyone's input and ensure that the attention is on working together to overcome obstacles. Keep in mind that sometimes, the most unexpected idea might just be the key to solving the challenge at hand. So, let the creativity flow and embrace the wondrous world of brainstorming!

When people finished, give them an extra three minutes to review and circle their favourite ideas. Then look back at their own sheet, choose a new idea, and start riffing on it

Daniel Cooper

Daniel Cooper

Managing Partner & Dungeon Master

Did you know?
Design Sprints actually help reduce long-term costs.

It's like using an illusion spell to bypass a trap, instead of spending days trying to disable it. Time saved is gold earned, right?

Roles within a Design Sprint

In a bright studio, creators gather for

Hey there! Let's talk about the different roles within a design run quest, shall we? First off, you've got your master. This questmaster's main job is to lead the charge, keep everyone on track, and maintain a positive environment during the run. It's kind of like leading the way on an epic adventure!

Now, product managers are the ones who have a solid grasp on the product vision and strategy. They work hand-in-hand with the designers, developers, and other team members to make sure the quest is aligned with their noble objectives where every member of the Sprint Team went through all of the information available and making sure they are on the same page.

Speaking of designers, don't forget about the skilled artisans of design sprints - the UX designers. They bring their creative prowess to the quest, using their magic to deliver delightful and functional decisions for users. They take those lightning talks and interviews full of insights and turn them into visual masterpieces.

But designers can't do it all alone, right? Enter the developers and engineers. These magical beings of code transform sketches into prototypes and ultimately, functional products. These are the technical gurus who know the ins and outs of the enchanted digital realm.

Now, let's not leave out the marketers! They play a vital role in most realms, and design sprints are no exception. They understand how the world works and ensure the product makes a big splash with users. They can weave tales with their words and create epic success stories.

Collaboration is the name of the game in sprints, so remote members need to keep the lines of communication crystal clear. It's like working together to slay a mighty dragon – except this dragon is a design problem! With the help of good ol' pen and paper, everyone can visualize their thoughts and share them with the team. Remote sprints bring differences to your typical in-person sessions. It could be that idea is more of a person-to-person interaction or service, rather than a digital or physical product.

Lastly, let's not forget about the importance of innovation in epic design sprints. Organizations need to tackle the tasks that keep them from reaching new heights. To scale the mountain of innovation, they must harness their collective brainpower and collaborate on truly innovative decisions.

Boom! Now you know the roles within a design run, so grab your weapon (or pen), gather your team, and let's embark on this grand adventure!

Sketching Techniques and Tools

In a bright studio, creators gather for

Oh Mighty Sketch, an important part of the design run battle. Let's dive into some techniques and tools that you can use to make effective sketches during a design run. Prepare to be amazed!

First, we've got needs, notes, and decide. Before you start sketching in detail, take some time to consider the main purpose of your sketch. Jot down critical needs and notes that you've gathered from user research and earlier activities. After you've got a clear idea of your goals, you can more easily decide which prototyping techniques to use and which elements to include. Write down a descriptive title for the service they are about to do.

Now let's talk about business and marketing. Yes, even in the world of prototyping, business and marketing are essential. Remember that your sketches aim not only to help make better user experiences but also boost business outcomes. Keep both user needs and business goals in your sights as you work on your masterpieces.

There's always room for testing, post data, and research in the realm of prototyping. Make sure you gather data from user testing, feedback sessions, and marketing research to inform your designs. Then, spend the time to test your sketches with users, clients, and stakeholders to validate your assumptions and make improvements accordingly.

Whew, that's a lot! Let's not forget about experience and research. As the prototyping is all about refining and improving concepts based on needs, don't hesitate to collaborate with UX and research experts to gain valuable insights and enhance the overall experience.

Surely, you didn't think I'd leave out tools and methods! Arm yourself with a nice, sharp Sharpie, some paper, and will to explore! Sketch with basic shapes, make warm-up sketches, consider multiple variations, and produce detailed decisions. Don't be shy about using different prototyping methods to find the one that best suits your style and project.

Collaboration is key, quest-strong friend. Sprints are all about collaboration and collective brainstorming. Be open to feedback and thoughts from your fellow sprinters, and tap into their insights to enrich your concepts and sketches.

And finally, as you sketch with gusto, always remember to map and validate your thoughts. You don't want to go down the wrong path! Relate your work to the broader context of flows, client stories, and your project roadmap to ensure that everything aligns well and supports each other.

There you have it! With these techniques and tools in hand, you're ready to embark on your design run sketch journey. Go forth and conquer the world of sketching, and may it bring glorious experiences and business successes!

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Creating and Evaluating Prototypes

In a bright studio, creators gather for

In the realm of sprints, crafting is indeed a crucial aspect of the journey. As a means of transforming thoughts into tangible, functioning models, prototypes can shine a light on potential issues or improvements before the final design is revealed.

To set the stage for maximum productivity, gather the core members, which commonly consists of:

  • The Maker: a designer, mercenary (developer), or engineer charged with designing and developing the prototype.
  • The Stitcher: an individual responsible for ensuring the prototype's seamless and fluid operation.
  • The Writer: a wordsmith who crafts the essential copy and directs the overarching narrative.

Turning concentration now to the methods of designing prototypes, there are countless techniques to explore. Remember, the long term goal is to make an interactive prototyping, which allows for more accurate testing and feedback. One popular method called "Crazy 8s" tasks team of hobbits to sketch eight variations of their best idea, devoting a mere minute to each variation. From this array of thoughts, participants can then hone on the most promising and develop a solution sketch that captures the essence of the prototyping.

Meeting tasks of the enchanted design run head-on, the team must embark upon testing with absolute confidence in their prototype. To do so, assess each prototype against the following criteria:

  • Relevance: Does the proto address the problem at hand and cater to client needs?
  • Functionality: Is the proto usable and does it perform its primary purpose well?
  • Adaptability: Can the proto be easily adapted or improved based on feedback?

Armed with these considerations, all participants can progress into testing with a clear vision. As users engage with the prototyping, invaluable data emerges, revealing whether the design meets their needs or if it falls short.

After the client testing phase, it's time to review feedback and make necessary adjustments to the prototyping. Embrace the insights gained in this stage, as they will shape the final product, ensuring it meets the needs of users and soars beyond expectations. Remember, the design run is an adopted approach meant to deliver optimal deliverables in a timely fashion and the creation and evaluation of prototypes is the beating heart of this mighty endeavor.

Design Sprints for Business Strategy

In a modern studio, a team of designers and developers convene around a circular table, delving into

Aye, my mates! sprints be the key to unlocking the treasure of business strategy. Arrgh! They be a five-day (business week) long run, where ye product and development staff put their heads together to solve design tasks and answer critical business questions. And shiver me timbers, they are flexible which are perfect for startups.

Now, in the heart of these Design Run Adventures, ye'll find the mystical gem known as "sketching". It be the magical moment when the participant generates ideas, and then narrows 'em down to a single, concise storyboard. This storyboard illustrating the journey of the users, like a tale shared by sailors by the warm glow of a campfire. Any team member with a brave soul can contribute to these products.

These sketchings are where the real challenge lies. To make 'em truly adventurous and exciting, ye must make prototypes that put before your customers a dilemma, which can be a trade-off decision like choosing between a big room with a not-so-great bed or a small room with a great bed. Yarr.

So with Epic Sprints, it's like combining the best of the business world – for example business strategy, innovation, customer needs, and making a customer experience that makes a hearty impact. The result is a powerful tool that helps ye validate thoughts and steer your ship towards success in the ever-changing business seas.

Remember, me hearties, sprints can be used for on-site or remote members, and with the right crew or an experienced Master, ye can conquer the tasks. So hoist your sails and embark on your journey of business strategy with Design Run Battles!

Working with Remote Teams

A group of people with headsets on their heads in front of their computers, working with people remotely on the design sprint The background is blurred. Camera angle: over the shoulder.

When organizing a design run sketch with remote members, it's essential to adapt everything to accommodate the virtual nature of collaboration. Fear not, for the tasks faced by remote participants can be conquered using the right tools and strategies!

The first thing to consider is communication. As a band of mighty collaborators, using tools like Slack can help bridge the gap between knights scattered across different realms. Slack channels enable real-time conversations, file sharing, and the organization of thoughts neatly.

Now, for the grand battle of virtual collaboration, it's wise to wield a powerful platform like Miro or Sketch to stage the epic design run sketch activities. These online tools will allow everyone to contribute, edit, and critique things in real-time. The collaborative canvas and visual workspace enhance creativity and save the day!

When running a design run sketch in a remote environment, breaking up the run timeline can work wonders. Instead of an all-day afternoon siege, divide the sessions into shorter episodes that suit the members' different time-zones and schedules, allowing the company of heroes to be in-sync and equally contribute to the quest.

Here are some handy tips for conquering the realm of remote design run quest sketch. Before the run begins, you've got to do some prep work:

  • Prepare beforehand by gathering the right tools and establishing clear guidelines for participation
  • Encourage open communication and feedback throughout the sessions
  • Keep the energy level high by incorporating interactive elements and brainstorming sessions
  • Remember to check up on individual contributions and ensure that everyone's voice is heard.

In summary, remote participants can thrive and triumph in the lands of design run sketch, with the help of the right communication tools, platforms, and strategies. Stand tall and proud, for the treasures of fruitful collaboration and successful design decisions await!


A diverse team of designers and developers sit at a table in front of their computer, looking at the photographer, smiling, with their hands up. The background shows a whiteboard with post-it notes and diagrams. One person looks more excited than others. Camera angle: over the shoulder.

In conclusion, sprints allow heroic teams to quickly iterate on thoughts, test them, and refine their products. Runs make an environment that fosters creativity and collaboration by following a structured process and bringing together diverse expertise. This leads to the development of innovative decisions and ultimately improves the chances of making successful products, while saving time and resources.

Key takeaways from design run include:

  • Time-based activity involving various heroic members
  • Early brainstorming and idea generation
  • User-tested prototypes within a short span of time
  • Well-defined guide and diverse expertise inclusion

Remember that a successful design run is a common effort, requiring participation from all members across different disciplines. This empowers individuals to contribute their skills and knowledge, ultimately enhancing the final outcome.

Incorporating design run adventures into your team's workflow will allow you to quickly test and explore new thoughts, learn from feedback, and constantly refine your product offerings.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the essential elements of a solution sketch?

Ah, the essentials! A solution should be clear and easy to understand, focusing on the main idea. Include all necessary elements, like interface elements, but keep it low-fidelity! Just some boxes, arrows, and text will do. Most importantly, draw it without any compromising any anonymityβ€”let's not judge it by their authors!

How to prepare for a design sprint sketching session?

Prepare yourself, traveler, for the prototyping journey! Collect all required materials: pens, paper, markers, and sticky notes. Set up and describe a clear objective for the session and outline the problem you're tackling. Get inspired! Review existing decisions or perform some lightning demosβ€”you know, short presentations to spark those creative juices. Remember, it's a common effort, so encourage everyone to participate and share thoughts. The goal is to generate as many thoughts as possible in a short period of time and explain them making sure you are on the same page.

What is the role of sketching in design sprint phases?

Sketching is the magical power that takes center stage during the ideation phase of a design run, mighty Knight! It helps you for example to visualize different decisions quickly and gather the wildest thoughts from all members. This is where creativity flows, and you're allowed to think beyond apparent limitations! Sketching then narrows down your options in a visually collaborative and organized way.

How to choose the best sketch in the decide phase?

Choosing the best has a lot to do with the art of decision-making! In the decide phase, all members must embrace a structured process, often called "the Dot Vote"β€”it's where everyone places colored dots on their favorite ones. Foster a healthy debate, but timebox it; after all, the sands of time are falling. In the end, let the solution with the most votes lead the way to prototyping and testing.

Which activities are crucial for sketching in a design sprint?

My friend, vital activities in a design run include notion sharing, lightning demos, prototyping (obviously), heat mapping, presentations, and the Dot Vote. Communicate, ideate, and iterate to find the brightest ideas. Embrace your team's collaboration, and remember: though the journey might be challenging, it's all about working together.

What are some real-life examples of design sprint battle sketches?

Real-life examples? Of course, let me illuminate those for you! Design run adventure sketches can encompass various industries and functional domains. For instance, think about making a mobile app for a ride-sharing service or an intuitive dashboard for a healthcare product. Limitations? Ha! There are none. It's like the sky full of stars, limited only by our imagination.

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Daniel Cooper

✍️ Written By: Daniel Cooper
πŸ§™ Managing Partner, Lolly
πŸ“… June 10th 2023 (Updated - August 22nd 2023)

Daniel Cooper is the founder and managing partner at Lolly and focuses on creating incredible digital products for his clients. As an experienced product designer, sprint facilitator, and software/app developer he has created simple, no-nonsense, and informative videos and articles for Lolly and other established brands.

βœ‰οΈ [email protected]   πŸ”— LinkedIn