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Phases of a Design Sprint: Essential Steps for Success

Design Sprints > Phases of a Design Sprint: Essential Steps for Success

✍️ Written by Daniel Cooper on July 9th 2023 (Updated - August 17th 2023)

Design sprints have revolutionized the way teams approach problem-solving and product development by offering a focused and efficient process. At their core, design sprint adventures are an intense time-based activity that brings together various team members to design or redesign a product. Developed by Google Ventures, this methodology is grounded in Agile principles and aims to address common challenges in the design process.

During a design sprint, adventurers (participants) follow six distinct phases: Understand, Define, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Validate. These phases provide a structured approach to thinking, collaboration, and decision-making, culminating in a tested prototype that can be refined and iterated upon. Not only do design sprints help perfect new product launches, but they also facilitate building a strong UX culture and design leadership across organizations.

Key Takeaways

  • Design sprint battles offer an efficient, time-based methodology for tackling design problems in teams.
  • Phases in a enchanted design sprint include understanding the problem, defining goals, sketching, deciding, prototyping, and validation.
  • The process fosters a robust UX culture and design leadership, benefits experienced across various industries.

Understanding Design Sprints

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Ah, design sprints! They're like a quest to create amazing products in a short time. Developed by Jake Knapp at Google Ventures, it's an intensive five-day process that helps mystic teams solve design problems and answer important business questions.

Now let me tell you more about it. The whole framework is based on Agile Methodology, and it's a user-centered approach. So, it's all about knowing the needs of the users, and with their insights, the team can tackle the design quest. But how? By ideating, prototyping, and testing solutions with real users. Remember, it's a structured process with key stages, such as defining the problem, evaluating ideas, offering solutions, designing, checking with the product or project manager or owner, and even testing the prototypes.

Why are design sprints useful, you ask? Well, it's all about saving time! Your team can cut the decision-making process down from months to just a single week. It's like having a time spell that compresses everything. With design sprint, you're not only solving problems quickly but also reducing the risk of creating something that just doesn't work. Plus, it's perfect for launching new products or redesigning existing ones.

Here's the deal, though: design sprints are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some teams might need to tailor the whole process based on the specific challenges they face. But hey, that's the beauty of it! It's a versatile framework that helps mystic teams on their quest for product greatness.

To sum up this magic spell in a nutshell, design sprint adventures are an incredible tool for product and development adventuring teams. Using the power of Agile Methodology, user-centered insights, and a structured process, questing teams can quickly create and improve their products according to users' actual needs. It's truly a powerful way to embark on the quest for innovation and success.

Phases of a Design Sprint

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In a design sprint, there are a few hours of crucial phases that guide the process from understanding user needs to building a successful solution. These phases are broken down into several sub-sections, magic-style, in this section.

Understand Phase

In the Understand Phase, teams focus on grasping the problem, user expectations, and business goals. It's vital to gather information from experts within the organization and create customer journey map and the empathy map. This first stage unlocks the path to comprehend the business problem or challenge that needs to be tackled as part of the sprints.

Sketch Phase

Let the sketching wizardry commence! The Sketch Phase is all about ideation and brainstorming various potential solutions for the problem at hand. Team members individually put pen to paper (or stylus to tablet) to turn ideas into visual representations. These sketches help in materializing thoughts and making it easier for others to understand the proposed solutions. Be creative and make the magic happen!

Decide Phase

Decisions, decisions, decisions. In the Decide Phase, the team critically reviews and comments on the sketches from the previous phase. They discuss the pros and cons of each one idea and decide which of these brilliant concepts will move forward to the next stage. By the end of this phase, there's a winning idea that's ready to be prototyped.

Prototype Phase

It's time to breathe some life into those chosen ideas! In this phase, the team transforms their winning idea into a tangible model, a realistic prototype that users can interact with. Here the focus is on the most critical parts of the solution, rather than crafting a full-fledged product. Quickness and resourcefulness are key in this phase.

Test Phase

The grand finale of the design sprint phase is the Test Phase. The team puts their prototype through a rigorous trial with real users to gather feedback and insights. This valuable information helps identify any gaps or improvements required in the solution. Testing ensures the team has reached a reliable and user-friendly solution before moving to the final production stages.

Through these phases – Understand, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Test – the design sprint magic unfolds, effectively exploring ideas, finding solutions for users and unveiling new opportunities to create solutions and tackle challenges.

Roles and Teams

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In a design sprint, various roles and teams come together to create a successful process that finds potential solutions to problems through collaboration. These key roles include the Wizard (best design sprint facilitators, project managers), Designers, Engineers, and Product Managers. Let's dive into each role and sub-section to get a better understanding of their part in the design sprint process here.


In the mystical realm of design sprints, the Facilitator plays the equivalent of a wise and skilled wizard, guiding the team with the power of knowledge and a clear vision keeping each team member on the same page. They ensure that everyone stays focused and time is managed effectively. They lead brainstorming sessions, keep discussions on track, and help resolve any conflicts that may arise. A successful sprint Facilitator empowers the team, boosts creativity, and maintains a harmonious environment.


Quests like design sprints demand brave and creative adventurers, and that's where Designers come in! They bring their artistic capabilities to the table, which helps in crafting the visual elements of the finished product. They develop sketches, wireframes, and prototypes that communicate the design ideas to the rest of the team. Designers collaborate with other teammates, integrate feedback from users and stakeholders, and make sure the design aligns with the overall vision.


Gadget masters and technical experts of the realm, Engineers are integral to any sprint battle. They provide insights on technical feasibility and constraints, ensuring that the design aligns with the limitations and capabilities of the technology. Engineers aid in creatingrealistic prototypes and embrace the iterative process, solving complex problems alongside the Designers and Product Managers. Together, they transform ideas and prototypes into workable solutions.

Product Managers

Last but not least, the tireless protectors of the realm's order and balanceβ€”Product Managers! They are responsible for ensuring that the whole design sprint team always aligns with the overall product strategy and business goals. A Product Manager works closely with Designers and Engineers, prioritizing features, setting goals, and creating timelines. They help establish a cross-functional understanding of the whole sprint goal, user needs, market demands, and company objectives, making sure that the whole design sprint team together results in a product that's not only magical but also effective and profitable.

To sum it up, in a design sprint adventure, each role and each team member brings their unique skills and expertise to the table. Together, these talented individuals embark on an epic journey, exploring challenges, crafting solutions, and ultimately creating products that enchant and delight their users.

Daniel Cooper

Daniel Cooper

Managing Partner & Dungeon Master

Did you know?
Like an ogre (or an onion!), a design sprint has layers.

It combines understanding, diverging, converging, prototyping, and testing. Each layer is a crucial!

Tools, Techniques and Resources

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Storyboarding and Sketching

Storyboarding is a vital part of the enchanted design sprint process, mate! It helps visualize the user journey and identify critical touchpoints. To maximize creativity in this phase, try sketching ideas on paper like sticky notes before moving to digital tools. This approach allows the team to quickly iterate and refine ideas.

Prototyping Tools

When it comes to building your prototype, there's a treasure trove of tools available. One popular option is Figma, which offers powerful collaboration features, making it easy to work together on designs. Other options include Miro and Mural, both of which provide robust platforms for creating and collaborating on visual representations of your ideas.

User Research Techniques

Now, it's essential to validate your ideas through research. Equip yourself with these user research techniques:

  • Interviews: Gathering insights from users directly will help identify any roadblocks or missed opportunities.
  • Observation: Watch users interact with your prototype; their actions can speak louder than words.
  • Surveys: A quick way to gather information from a larger group of users and collect their feedback.

A combination of these techniques can help you fine-tune your prototype and improve the overall user experience.

Project Management Tools

Applying solid project management to your design and sprint team will prove valuable. Keep everyone in sync by using task management tools, and don't forget about sprints templates - they can be a real time-saver! Consider popular options like Trello or Asana as they provide an easy way to organize tasks and assignments in a clear, visual format.

In conclusion, using the right tools and techniques across storyboarding, sketching, prototyping, user research, user interviews, and project management is extremely important and necessary to ensure a successful design sprint.

Preparing for a Design Sprint

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Before embarking on the great journey known as a Design Sprint, you gotta get yourself prepared, alright? Preparing will pave the path to victory, and that's what you want, right? Good! So, I will guide you through some key factors that will help you excel in crafting your Design Sprint Quest adventure.

First things first, planning is essential. Yup, been there with my own quests. You need to set a clear agenda that covers each step-by-step plan and phase of the sprints. Remember, you have your own legendary procedure to follow including Understand, Define, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Validate. With a well-thought-out agenda, everyone on your team is aware, focused, and ready to contribute those amazing ideas.

Now, about the timeline. This magical journey you're embarking on usually takes around 2-5 days. Yup, pure magic! So, be prepared to tackle constraints within that time frame.

Your team might be remote, but fear not, modern technology's got you covered! Tools like Miro and Figma will help your remote team collaborate seamlessly. You'll be nailing that Design Sprint even if you're worlds apart.

Now, let's talk about the magnificent stakeholders. You know, the ones who hold the power to make or break your quest? Engage them early on, as their insights and support play a vital role in the success or, dare I say, failure of your sprint.

Consider the potential constraints. Time limitations? Strict budgets? Just like any epic quest, you're bound to encounter unexpected challenges. But hey, you'll overcome them with a solid preparation plan, and that includes being flexible!

So, there you have itβ€”preparing for your Design Sprint requires planning, setting an agenda, considering the constraints, involving remote heroic teams, engaging stakeholders, and establishing a timeline. Once you've checked off this list, you'll be ready to embark on your epic Epic Design Sprint phases adventure with confidence and knowledge.


Executing and Iterating the Design Sprint

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Ah, the design sprint - that magical comprehensive guide, a focused procedure that helps magical teams tackle design problems in just five days! Worried about collaboration? No need, the design and sprint process is all about pooling your team's expertise, building user experience, and iterating on prototypes. Let's hop right into the steps you'll take to make this journey a success.

First things first, the five design sprint phases kick off with the Understand phase, where your team do lightning talks to gather insights and ask questions about the problem at hand. Empathy is key, and understanding the end user's perspective is crucial.

In the Define phase, it's time to put on your thinking caps and identify the core challenges that need to be solved. With a clear goal in mind, your team's creativity will flow smoother than a babbling brook.

Now, it's time to Sketch out possible solutions. Encouraging collaboration, team members are free to doodle, scribble, and brainstorm any concepts that come to mind. The more, the merrier - multiple approaches and exploring many ideas together can mean a better chance at nailing the perfect user experience.

With a wealth of ideas, the Decide phase comes into play. Here, the whole team will converge, discuss, and agree on a promising solution where they can use dot voting. This collective final decision ensures everyone's on board and ready to rumble.

Then, put your crafting skills to the test in the Prototype stage! Transform the chosen solution into a high-fidelity prototype, a tangible representation of the end user experience. It should be a quick-and-dirty version, ideal for swift iteration and improvement.

Finally, the last phase, the Validate phase is when we test the prototype on real users, gather user feedback, validate ideas, and gain insights. It's a chance to see how the solution fares in the real world and to identify any issues that might need further iterating.

So there you go! By embracing collaboration and a user-centric workflow, you'll be able to iterate, fine-tune, and improve your design solution and rock the design sprint process from first to last stage. Like a magical quest, the sprint fosters teamwork, expertise, and a shared sense of purpose, to create products that enchant users far and wide.

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Tips for Success in Design Sprints

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Ah, design sprint battles! A magical process to quickly solve big problems and test new ideas with the speed of a mighty steed galloping through a moonlit glen. Now, let's uncover some tips to help your design sprint adventures reach their full potential.

First and foremost, pose a clear question to anchor your sprint. Like a guiding star in the night, this question will steer your team toward the right direction and path, focusing on the most crucial hypotheses to test. By doing so, you'll be yielding the progress you seek.

Next, it's essential to embrace the power of collaboration. In the world of enchanted design sprints, many minds are mightier than one. Summon your team members to contribute their wisdom and ideas during the Sketch phase. The more perspectives you have, the more innovative the solutions you'll conjure.

Speaking of innovative solutions, heed the lessons of design thinking. Leverage empathy and experimentation to uncover deeper insights about your target users' customer journey. Remember, you're on a quest to understand real customers, their desires, needs, and pain points; this will guide you in crafting the user flow and interactions that are genuinely meaningful and effective.

When creating prototypes, speed is your ally. The swifter you move from concept to prototype, the more time you'll have for learning and iterating. Strive for efficiency, avoiding unnecessary bells and whistles; remember, your goal is to test and validate your concepts rapidly.

But wait! Don't let haste cloud your vision. Be mindful and stay flexible as you embark on this fast-paced journey. Unexpected discoveries may arise, calling for a reevaluation of your original assumptions. Remain open to adapting and evolving, for that is the essence of the sprints.

Now, with the knowledge base of these tips at your fingertips, you're ready to conquer the world of epic design sprints! Fly forth, noble design warriors, and let your ideas soar to greatness.

Design Sprint in Different Industries

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Marketing: In the world of marketing, design sprints empower marketing teams to innovate quickly and stay ahead of the competition. During the full five design sprint phases, marketers can explore creative concepts, test new concepts, and validate assumptions. This approach leads to improved campaigns, targeted messaging, and more effective brand strategies.

Startups: Startups face unique challenges, especially when they're developing a new product. Design sprints provide a clear framework for validating product concepts, identifying target markets, and establishing the most effective approach to bring a product to life. Rapid prototyping and user testing help startups make informed decisions and avoid potential pitfalls down the line.

New Product Development: Launching a new product is an exciting endeavor, but it can also be daunting and time-consuming. Design sprints streamline the product development procedure by keeping teams focused on their goals, fostering collaboration, and using iterative design to refine and enhance different aspects of the product throughout each phase. As a result, teams create more user-centric and successful products.

Business Strategy: A company's ability to thrive depends upon its strategic direction and ability to innovate. Design sprints provide the stage for businesses to identify new opportunities and strengthen their existing offerings by addressing key challenges, exploring fresh revenue streams, and ultimately increasing overall business growth.

Using sprint battles strategically across various industries maximizes a company's potential to remain innovative and agile amidst a landscape of competitors. By taking a focused, immersive approach to problem-solving and design, organizations benefit from increased productivity, more efficient collaboration, and better alignment with their target customers and audience's needs and preferences.


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In the whirlwind of a Design Sprint, teams power through five phases to tackle design problems head-on. Each day is jam-packed with activities, from initial problem framing to prototyping and user testing. The sprint design procedure can feel like a wild ride, but it's all in the interest of crafting well-rounded solutions in record time.

Its flexibility is one of its greatest strengths. Adventurers adapt the procedure to suit their unique challenges, making the most of the available time and resources. The end result is a tested product that offers valuable insights, giving the team a head start on refining and launching the final product.

Using the framework, organizations fast-track innovation and avoid potential pitfalls. By embracing this user-centered approach, businesses stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in an ever-evolving marketplace. So strap in, embrace the challenge, and let the Design Sprint carry you to new heights of design success!

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the key steps in design sprints?

Ah, splendid question! There are five magnificent phases in a design sprint: Understand, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Test. In these five phases, heroic teams work together to tackle design problems, come up with innovative solutions, make decisions, build prototypes, and gather valuable feedback from users.

How do the phases build upon each other?

They're a connected journey! Starting with the Understand phase, the team gathers insights into the problem space, investigates customer needs, and identifies objectives. In the Sketch phase, concepts for the best solution are generated through sketching and brainstorming. As we journey to the Decide phase, the best concepts are chosen, and the path becomes clearer. In the Prototype stage, a high-fidelity replica of the chosen solution is made, forging the way to the Test phase, where user feedback helps the team validate their concepts and make improvements.

Which phase focuses on finding innovative solutions?

The Sketch stage is where the magic happens! In this enchanting phase, team members tap into their creative channels, brainstorming and sketching myriad possible solutions and different angles to the design problem. This stage fuels innovative thinking and produces a treasure trove of views for the other team members to explore.

How does the prototype phase work?

In this phase, the noble team transforms their chosen concept into a tangible, high-fidelity prototype. This isn't the full-blown product, of course, just a convincingly realistic representation of the idea. With a product in hand, the team can test the concept with users in the next stage.

What is the role of testing in design sprints?

Testing plays a crucial part in this journey, as feedback from real users gives the team deeper insights into how to improve their solution. The phase includes testing allows the squad to observe how actual users interact with their product solution sketch and quickly spot any shortcomings or areas that could be further optimized.

How do you plan and prepare for a design sprint?

To set off on a grand adventure, begin by assembling a cross-functional group and defining the objectives for the five phases. Assign roles and responsibilities, gather necessary materials for each stage, and establish a schedule for each day. It's also essential to invite participants and arrange logistics for testing. With proper planning and preparation, your squad shall embark upon a wondrous journey and forge a path to a delightful solution!

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Daniel Cooper

✍️ Written By: Daniel Cooper
πŸ§™ Managing Partner, Lolly
πŸ“… July 9th 2023 (Updated - August 17th 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