Mastering Design Sprints: A Short Guide to Accelerated Innovation

Explore the dynamic world of Design Sprints. Uncover proven strategies to accelerate innovation, enhance collaboration, and streamline your product development process. Dive into practical tips and success stories to master the art of Design Sprints and propel your team towards impactful and efficient problem-solving.

Vitalij Kacanovskij

4/1/20248 min read

Design sprintDesign sprint


In the fast-paced world of design, finding effective methods to generate innovative ideas, solve problems, and validate concepts is paramount. My objective is to provide a concise overview of its functionality and demonstrate its effectiveness by sharing my practical application and collaboration experiences with my team. After delving into this blog, if you find yourself intrigued and ready to explore further, you can access the Design Sprint book by following this link.

A Methodology for Innovation:

Design Sprint is a structured and time-boxed approach for solving complex problems and exploring new ideas. It was developed by Jake Knapp at Google Ventures (GV) and is now widely adopted by product teams around the world. Design Sprint brings together multidisciplinary team members to align on goals, define a clear problem statement, generate ideas, prototype solutions, and gather user feedback—all within a condensed timeframe. All the process is fitting to one week, and that is one of the biggest benefits of it.

design sprint process
design sprint process

The Design Sprint Process

Monday - Day 1: Mapping and Target Selection

Introduction to the process:

  • Introduce into an in-depth overview of the Design Sprint methodology, explain every step of the process to make it clear for everyone.

Understand the challenge:

  • First thing to do is defining the complexity: Find out what is the main problem to solve, what are the main challenges. the worst what can happen, if you will try to solve the wrong problem. Empathy should be a foundation of whole process.

  • Open Dialogues and Team Insights: Foster an environment of open discussions, inviting diverse perspectives. Try to cultivate a collective intelligence by encouraging insights and reflections from team members.

user mapping
user mapping

User mapping:

  • Identify and profile the target audience or users. In other words, try to define main personas, who is the user, how he will or is interacting with the product you are working with. Don't forget to think about personas pain points!

Stakeholder mapping:

  • Identify key stakeholders involved in or impacted by the challenge.

  • Understand their perspectives and expectations, what are pushing them to re-design or create current solution.

customer empathy map
customer empathy map

Empathy Map:

  • Develop an empathy map to gain deeper insights into user feelings and motivations.

  • Foster a shared understanding of the user experience. Try to think as a user, or if possible to get some data from the user, it will make things even easier.

Journey Mapping:

  • Plot the user journey to visualize their interactions with the product or service.

  • Highlight key touchpoints and potential areas for improvement.

  • Probability that you will work on the whole product in one sprint is miser, define the main points you need to make, or improve first.

choose a target
choose a target

Goal Setting:

  • Define specific, measurable goals for the Design Sprint. If goal will not be measurable, it will be difficult to achieve it, or even define that you have achieved it.

  • Align goals with user and business objectives.

Choosing a Target:

  • Prioritize areas within the challenge that offer the most significant impact. Select a specific target or focus for the remainder of the Design Sprint.

Tuesday - Day 2: Sketch

Sketch, sketch and then sketch some more. Tuesday is all about sketching!

In a typical design sprint, Day 2 is focused on divergent thinking and generating a wide range of creative ideas. The goal is to explore different possibilities and potential solutions to the problem identified on Day 1. Here's a breakdown of the key activities that often take place on Day 2 of a design sprint.

Morning: Recap and Lightning Demos

  • Start the day by recapping the problem statement and key insights from Day 1.

  • Conduct "Lightning Demos," where team members share inspiring examples, solutions, or relevant technologies related to the problem. This helps broaden perspectives and stimulate creativity.

Individual Ideation: Crazy 8s

  • Conduct a "Crazy 8s" exercise where participants individually sketch eight different solutions to the problem in eight minutes. This rapid sketching exercise encourages quick, diverse thinking.

Design sprint
Design sprint

Sharing and Selection

  • Each team member presents their Crazy 8s sketches to the group.

  • Discuss and highlight interesting elements from each sketch.

  • Vote on the most promising ideas or components using dot voting or another consensus-building method.

Afternoon: Group Sketching and Storyboarding

  • Collaborative sketching: Team members combine their individual ideas to create a shared solution. This involves synthesizing the most promising elements from Crazy 8s.

  • Storyboarding: Create a step-by-step narrative or flow that illustrates how the solution will work. This helps visualize the user experience and the overall concept.

Prototyping Plan

  • Identify key features and interactions that need to be prototyped.

  • Discuss the tools and technologies that will be used for prototyping.

  • End of Day: Check-in and Preparation for Prototyping

    • Conduct a brief check-in to ensure everyone is aligned on the selected ideas and the direction of the prototype.

    • Assign tasks and responsibilities for the prototyping phase.

Remember that the exact activities and structure of a design sprint can vary based on the facilitator, the team, and the specific problem being addressed. The primary objective of Day 2 is to foster creativity, explore a variety of ideas, and converge on a direction for the prototype.

Wednesday - Day 3: Decide

It's Time to Decide!

The focus shifts to making decisions that will shape the prototype. This day is crucial as the team moves from ideation to actionable plans. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what happens:

Art Museum Exercise:

  • The team reviews all the solutions sketched on Day 2.

  • Each team member silently reviews the sketches, making notes and highlighting elements they like using stickers.

  • This exercise helps in understanding the best ideas from each sketch without groupthink influencing decisions.

Heat Map:

  • The team discusses the highlights and popular ideas from the Art Museum exercise.

  • A heat map is created by placing more stickers on the most promising parts of the sketches, which helps in identifying the strong, recurrent themes.

Speed Critique:

  • Each sketch is discussed in more detail.

  • Team members provide rapid feedback, focusing on strengths, weaknesses, and potential improvements.

  • This step ensures a thorough examination of each idea, considering diverse perspectives.

Straw Poll:

  • After the speed critique, team members vote on the best ideas using dot stickers or a digital tool.

  • This informal vote helps to see which ideas are most favored before the final decision.


  • The Decider (often the product owner or key stakeholder) reviews the results of the Straw Poll and makes the final decision.

  • The Decider uses a limited number of supervotes to mark the solutions that will move forward into the prototyping phase.

Storyboard Creation:

  • The team creates a storyboard, a step-by-step plan for the prototype.

  • This involves sketching out the user flow, interactions, and key screens.

  • The storyboard acts as a blueprint for the prototype, ensuring everyone is aligned on what will be built on Day 4.

Thursday - Day 4: Prototype

Designers Favorite - Prototyping!

Prototyping day is dedicated to transforming the chosen ideas into a tangible, high-fidelity prototype. This crucial step focuses on building a realistic model of the product, ready for user testing on Day 5.

Setup and Tools:

  • The team sets up the necessary tools and software for prototyping. Common tools include Sketch, Figma, InVision, or other design and prototyping tools.

  • Responsibilities are assigned based on team members' skills, ensuring efficient use of time and resources.

Divide and Conquer:

  • Tasks are divided among team members to maximize efficiency.

  • Some may focus on creating high-fidelity screens, while others work on linking interactions or gathering assets like images and icons.

  • Clear communication and collaboration are crucial to ensure consistency and cohesion in the prototype.

Building the Prototype:

  • The team starts creating the prototype, focusing on the key features and interactions outlined in the storyboard.

  • The goal is to build a high-fidelity, realistic prototype that feels like a real product to users.

  • Details like transitions, animations, and interactive elements are added to enhance the user experience.

Midday Check-In:

  • A midday check-in helps the team review progress and ensure everything is on track.

  • Adjustments are made based on feedback and any issues encountered during the morning work session.

Stitching It Together:

  • By the afternoon, individual pieces of the prototype are combined.

  • The team ensures that all screens and interactions flow smoothly and logically, creating a cohesive user experience.

Polishing and Refining:

  • Final touches are added to the prototype, such as refining visuals, fixing minor bugs, and ensuring everything works seamlessly.

  • The team conducts a thorough review to ensure the prototype meets the goals set out in the storyboard.

Prototype Review:

  • The completed prototype is reviewed by the entire team.

  • Feedback is gathered, and any last-minute tweaks are made to ensure the prototype is as polished and realistic as possible.

Friday - Day 5: Test

Testing, Testing and TESTING!

On the final day of the Design Sprint, the focus is on testing the prototype with real users to gather valuable feedback. This day is crucial for validating ideas and identifying areas for improvement based on actual user experiences.

Preparing for Testing:

  • The team sets up the testing environment, ensuring all necessary equipment and tools are ready.

  • A testing script is prepared, outlining the tasks and questions for the users to follow during the session.

  • Users are recruited and scheduled for testing sessions, representing the target audience as closely as possible.

Conducting User Tests:

  • One-on-one user testing sessions are conducted, typically involving 5-7 participants.

  • Users interact with the prototype while team members observe and take notes on their behavior, comments, and any difficulties they encounter.

  • The facilitator guides users through the tasks, prompting them to think aloud and provide feedback on their experience.

Observation and Note-Taking:

  • Team members observe the sessions, either in person or via video conferencing tools, and take detailed notes on user reactions and issues.

  • Key observations are recorded, focusing on patterns and common themes that emerge during the tests.

Debriefing Session:

  • After all user tests are completed, the team gathers for a debriefing session.

  • Each team member shares their observations and insights, highlighting the most significant findings.

  • The team discusses the feedback, identifying common pain points, usability issues, and areas where the prototype succeeded or fell short.

Affinity Mapping:

  • The team organizes the feedback into an affinity map, grouping similar observations and insights together.

  • This helps in identifying the most critical issues and prioritizing them for future iterations of the design.

Synthesizing Feedback:

  • The team synthesizes the feedback into actionable insights, creating a list of improvements and changes to be made.

  • These insights inform the next steps in the design and development process, ensuring that the final product meets user needs and expectations.


The Design Sprint is a powerful five-day process that takes you from ideation to user-tested prototype, providing clear insights and direction for your product. This post offers a quick overview to help you grasp the essentials swiftly. You can check how I have used it on real project (HR Management System) If the process seems complicated, don't worry—I'm here to help guide you through every step and ensure your project’s success.

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