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Design Sprints
8 min read

How Design Sprints are Essential to Design Solutions

An Introduction to Design Sprints

A design sprint is a time-constrained process in which a team of designers, business, and technical experts tackle complex problems using design thinking. Design sprints help to solve big problems by rapidly exploring relevant ideas and constructing a working prototype.

Design sprints can be used to develop advanced solutions and lead to more promising results than the typical design project span.

Sprint Team

Design sprints are composed of small teams with a maximum of seven people. A typical design sprint has the following roles within a team. Some roles may be held by more than one person.


  • The Decider. The decider of the sprint group is typically an individual with a significant stake in the project or product, often the product owner or business sponsor. The decider has the final say when the group needs to decide.

  • The End User Expert. This individual is either an end user themselves or works closely with the end users. Either way, they provide valuable insight into the end users’ needs and wants.

  • The Tech Expert. This person deeply understands your technology landscape and processes.

  • The Design Expert. This person is a trained design thinker and is key to the creation of mock-ups and interactive prototypes within the sprint.

  • The Facilitator. This person ensures that the sprint goals are met and that everything runs on time. They plan the agenda, lead activities, moderate discussions (with the help of a handy timer!), and document important findings.

Usability testers are another important group with design sprints. These individuals aren’t part of the core design sprint team. Instead, they are representatives from the intended user group for the product. Usually, five users are required for usability testing.

Materials Required

Design sprint materials include the following:

  • Post-its

  • Whiteboards and whiteboard markers

  • Dot stickers to vote

  • Sharpies

  • Scotch tape

  • Scissors

  • Timer

  • Snacks

  • Creativity

  • A good attitude

Design sprints don’t have to be held in-person. In fact, remote sprints are just as successful as in-person sprints and may be a better choice for organizations with remote employees. These materials are taken care of on our side so that the client doesn’t have to worry about purchasing and setting up new tools. If the sprint is virtual, the materials required include:

  • A working laptop or tablet with a microphone and webcam

  • A space without background noise or headphones

  • Stable internet access

  • Video-conferencing software

  • Access to a collaborative tool (we like Miro)

  • Access to a mock-up tool (we like Figma)


Time must be allocated for this project to take place. This may sound like a big commitment, but this can allow for what would originally be months of problem-solving and prototyping to take place successfully within a smaller amount of time. A typical design sprint lasts five days but can be modified to fit different project requirements. At ConvergentIS, our design sprints are modified to last four days without losing any of its core elements. But how does this work?

  • A typical 5-day design sprint consists of five phases:

    • Map

    • Sketch

    • Decide

    • Prototype

    • Test

  • A 4-day design sprint consists of four phases

    • Map

    • Decide

    • Sketch/Prototype

    • Test

Why Design Sprint

Design sprints have been proven to be incredibly efficient for producing innovative design solutions, which is why we swear by them. Design sprints:


Designing a solution to a problem is a process that can take weeks, months, or even years. Designers are often working on multiple projects at a time with overlapping deadlines, which is why results can take time to be delivered.


It is often difficult to gather all related parties together when a project is lasting a long time, as everyone has a completely different schedule. By setting aside the time to start and complete a project, hours of ‘circling back’ and ‘catching up’ can be avoided altogether.


The design sprint is incredibly hands-on, with participants writing and drawing all over post-it notes and whiteboards. These notes and sketches take place in an area where they can be left up throughout the duration of the sprint. That way, participants arrive again the next day with a fresh reminder of all that they had brainstormed the day before. The process of the design is fully captured in the activities that take place, and the results can be analyzed for further iterations.


It can be difficult to brainstorm in a team setting when every person within the team has a different demeanour and approach to problem-solving. Some individuals may be more open with their ideas, while others are more reserved. The design sprint prioritizes the voices of all members within the team so that everyone can be heard. Traditional brainstorming settings do not always allow for maximum group participation as it can be easy for some participants to talk over others.

Now that all the benefits of sprints have been established, here are the following steps to a 4-Day design sprint:

Monday: Find a Solution to a Problem

The first day of the design sprint is all about defining the challenge and producing solutions.

  • An expert interview is conducted to determine a problem. The expert can be anyone relevant to the problem that has the capability to explain this further to the design team.

  • After the expert describes the problem, the team is asked to create a series of “How Might We” (HMW) questions. “How Might We” is a technique used to determine what the relevant problems are by writing them out as questions that can be answered. After the questions are created, the HMW questions are read aloud, and participants vote on a question to the original problem. The decision-maker has the final say after the round of voting.

  • After the HMW question activity, participants are asked to discuss long-term goals. Every team member is asked to write a goal looking ahead to two years within the future.

  • Participants are asked to think about barriers that would prevent the 2-year goals from coming true.

After a successful day of brainstorming, participants then head home and reflect on discussions to prepare for the next day.

Tuesday: Create a Design Solution

On Tuesday the participants gather again to develop concepts.

  • Participants create a concept for their solution. Even if the concepts are not very artistic or well-drawn, they can be included in the voting process if they still get their point across. Sketches are encouraged to be rough. After concepts are created, participants vote, and the decision-maker decides.

  • With the concept selected, everyone is then asked to create the user’s journey within six steps. This is known as a user flow. Everyone then votes on a user flow, with the decision maker having the final say once again.

  • The chosen user flow is modified further, with steps being added or omitted after discussions are held and are used as the foundation for the prototype created the next day.

Wednesday: Sketch and Prototype

Wednesday is the day for sketching out the decided-upon solution from the day before. In the sketch phase of the design sprint, the design team generates a broad range of ideas on their own and roughly sketches each idea out on paper.

  • The solution sketch is a design sprint method that is used to expand upon a single concept for a solution to the problem. A timer is set for a longer duration than previous activities, and then everyone is asked to spend time sketching out an idea that they are most interested in. Each team member creates their own detailed solution sketch based on their chosen idea.

  • A solution sketch includes three frames and then states the concept to illustrate how it works. After creating solution sketches, the team shares their ideas and votes once again on a singular concept. The decider then makes a final selection after the voting process takes place. The decider can choose based on the most popular sketch or select an idea that they feel most aligned with.

  • After the sketch is decided upon, the prototype is created based around the sketch. The designer of the sprint team will create a low-fidelity prototype that represents what is going on within the sketch.

The users may not be able to fully interact with the prototype, but they are expected to be able to understand the overall concept of the product based on the prototype created.

Thursday: Test the Solution

Thursday is for testing the proposed solution with a group of users

  • To determine who an ideal user would be, it is essential for members of the team to conduct research regarding the demographics of the product users. After research is conducted, users are recruited, and a group of relevant candidates are requested to participate in the user testing sessions.

  • The users are shown an interactive prototype of the proposed solution. They are asked questions throughout the session about the product and how it works. Users will then be asked to provide feedback about what they like and dislike about the product as well as how it can be improved within the next iteration.

  • The design sprint team can view the feedback proposed by users and decide on certain criteria to take into consideration when making edits to the prototype.

  • Further revisions are made and tested once again until a proposed solution is decided upon.

Facilitating Successful Sprints

The success of the sprint is dependent on the participation of the design sprint team. This means that even if all the factors are set in place for a successful design sprint, success isn’t guaranteed.

  • Conditions should be appropriate for the level of energy from the start of the day to last until the end. This means that the sprint space should be spacious, lively, and inspiring.

  • Healthy snacks and water should be provided to participants to keep them energized and provide brain fuel.

  • While the design problem should be the core focus of the sprint, it doesn’t hurt to provide participants with a ‘brain break’.

  • The sprint should take place during a set time in the day without distraction. 

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