Design Sprint hand-out
a TOPdesk manual for Design Sprints
What is a Design Sprint?
A design sprint is a five days framework that follows the different stages of design-
thinking (empathise, define, ideate, prototype, test). It helps development teams
to answer critical business questions through rapid prototyping and user testing
in a really early stage of the development process. Design sprints let your team
solve challenges, reach deliverables and gain learnings, in a week.
in the team for user-centred thinking. We feel it helps us to align the team with a
shared vision. For us, the biggest benefit is the early product validation and the
involvement of our customers in a really early stage.
Monday - Map
During the first day, the team comes together to explore the business problem
from all angles. You’ll create shared knowledge and essentially unite under a
Exercises for the first day:
Review previous Research / work
Competitor / tech / design analysis
Persona (creation, analysis)
User Journey Mapping
HMW (how might we)
We normally start the week with some recap. Sharing insights from different
perspectives about the project helps to get everyone on the same page.
The UX researchers share her insights in their key findings. Or the Product
Owner gives an inspiring pitch about why does he/she desperately need the
sprint challenge to be solved.
We share everything we know, so we can build together on the same base!
Competitor / Design / Tech analysis
For inspiration we spend some time to look into; competing products, design
solutions that solve similar problems, or possible known technological
Try to stay on the surface and use the information as inspiration. Don’t
spend too much time to deep dive, instead try to stick to a broad view.
Persona (creation, analysis)
Make sure that your team knows who are they designing for! This is the
most important aspect of your product: the user who will eventually use
We often prepare the personas upfront for bigger projects, but you can also
try to create them with a quick Persona exercise during day 1.
This exercise will humanize your users and give the development team a
sense of empathy for the people they are developing for.
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13 February 2017
born as a digital native
Carol uses her smartphone all day long: to stay connected with her
friends, searching restaurants nearby, but also ordering in shops or
doing online banking.
▸ solving problems with the help of the SSP
▸ booking ad-hoc reservations for meetings with collegues anywhere
▸ requesting services for herself
▸ being independent and helping herself
▸ being up to date and flexible during the day
▸ helping her collegues
▸ old fashioned software
▸ being restricted
User Journey mapping
User journey mapping is an excellent exercise to map out the journey of the
user before, during and after they engaged with the product. It documents
the stakeholder experience holistically and helps to identify opportunities
We generally map out the existing experience (packed with soft research
data), which helps us to identify opportunities throughout the whole process.
A map is created for every persona.
Participants of the Design Sprint are guided to make “HMW notes” during
the first day. These notes represent the insights, problems, obstacles they
gather from the different insights. The good thing about this method is that
people are forced to reformulate their notes in a positive way, as a form of
a challenge or opportunity.
HMW notes may be generated throughout the whole day, and HMW notes
can be collected in a separate wall or board, called the HMW wall
Tuesday - Sketch
During the sketch phase, team members are given the time and space to
brainstorm individually solutions on their own. This is the diverge stage,
where any ideas are considered valuable. In this way we follow a generative
Exercises for the Tuesday:
Wireframes (Solution Sketch)
We generally start the diverge phase with a warm up exercise to get the
creativity flow. The most important here is to keep the format free, without
obligations. These drawings / or text won’t be shared with the group. The
goal is to ease people into the follow up exercises, and to start gathering
active thoughts about the problem and challenge.
Crazy 8s / 8-ups
Now, this is the part where the real creative ideas born!
We follow a structured approach, called the 8-ups. We generate 8 ideas in 8
minutes, in an A4 paper. The goal is to generate as many ideas as possible,
focusing on the biggest challenges / opportunities that we picked from the
We repeat this process more time so we can build on each other’s ideas.
This is an intense but really enjoyable exercise. At the end, we hang all the
ideas, like in an exhibition, on the wall.
As a follow-up exercise everyone chooses 1 idea as focus. In a 3 frame
storyboard, we try to capture the experience / solution for the challenge.
The goal is to design 1 experience / product per person.
This method is really useful if you are trying to solve a challenge where
services / products are both parts of your challenge. This story telling
method helps you to capture the different stages, or touchpoints you are
trying to design.
Your sketches will look like comic book frames, and you will have to include
the story as a guideline next to your frames.
We use dot voting quite often during sprinting. Voting helps us to find back
our focus. Even though the second day is meant for diverging, it is super
important to keep the balance between generating ideas for a particular
challenge, and not try to solve everything at once!
So we dot vote to define the priority of opportunities, or if we need to choose
ideas that we want to work out, etc...
Wireframes (Solution Sketch)
We try to create personal wireframes that represent personal solutions.
‘‘Wireframes are rough sketches of the flow through the screens of the
product.‘‘ - (design sprint, Banfeild, Lombardo & Wax)
It is really useful to draw each step on a separate paper (or sticky note),
so later you could merge multiple ideas from the different flows when you
create the final wireframe.
The most important to remember here is to focus on the happy path! Don’t
try to overcomplicate things. The idea is to capture what each person thinks
the most likely main flow will be.
Critique /silent / group
It is important to give each other feedback on the ideas.
We normally do that with different exercises. Sometimes we write down
our suggestions or what we dislike about ideas on sticky notes. We use a
different color post-it to reflect on what we like on the other hand!
This exercises can be done without post-its, verbally. Or mix the 2! This is up
to you, as the aim here is to provide constructive criticism that elevates the
next round of ideas!
Wednesday - Decide
Now it is time to start narrowing down your choices! In the previous step
your team has generated a lot of ideas, but unfortunately, not everything
can / should be built. This day we focus on converging all those ideas to come up
with an effective solution. Prepare for a lot of discussions and conversations!
Exercises for the Wednesday:
Scrutinize your work!
Scrutinize your work
There are soo many ideas that you might feel overwhelmed by now. That’s
why we need to tidy up and organize things a bit.
We generally start day 3 with an organization exercise, to see emerging
patterns or similar ideas. We try to organize the sketches around the same
topic, which can be a highlighted opportunity or a step in the user journey.
This exercise helps us to see things clearer, and also to lay down the
foundations of the upcoming prioritization tests.
$100 test / risk
At this stage, you might think “omg, what are we going to do with all
these ideas?“ Well, we need to prioritize and make sure we pick the best
combination(s)! We need to take into account perspectives from; business,
technology and human. Therefore we use a combined exercise which
involves a critcal look at every idea.
First, we ask everyone to highlight the weak points they can think of. We ask
our peers and experts in certain areas from the organization to provide us
their input. In the second round, we give the participants $100 to invest in
the ideas they like to see realized.
Now it’s time to start assembling the final product(s). We use a team sketching
excersize, which is lead generally by designers.
We try to combine the best ideas, and make them into a step by step
Generally there will be more ideas than time to realize them. That is why the
team needs to be critical to narrow down the sotryline and frame the final
solution really well.
We like to split up into subgroups and tackle a specific part of the user
Ritual dissent is a way to criticize constructively. The goal is to find the holes
in the ideas and also to share the final wireframes with each other in a way
where everyone can give input before it is finalized.
Each team gets the time to explain their solution sketch, while the others
take notes. In multiple rounds the teams try to build in the given feedback.
This is the closing excerzise before prototyping!
Thursday - Prototype
This is the day when the wireframes gets their final shapes in the form of
prototypes. In one day we need to make sure that we build a realistic facade, that
can validate our assumptions with the right users. The most important thing this
day is to know when to stop.
Exercises for the Wednesday:
Make it happen!
Design the steps
Remember! Prototyping does not mean that you need to have high-fidelity
beautiful Photoshop screens. The only important thing to remeber is, that
your goal is to validate / invalidate your assumptions.
You are going to test ideas, and not usability! The most important difference
between them is that usability testing assumes that the right problem is
solved with the right idea, while idea/concept testing goes one step beyond.
You are going to validate whether you are solving the right problem, and
whether your solution(s) to the problem is(are) the correct one.
Make it happen! (examples)
There is not much to say about this. Just make it happen within the given
timeframe! Know when to cut corners, and know what are the fundamentals
that you are trying to test! In these pages I collected different representation
of prototypes we built in the past. We often use a software called proto.io,
because it is easy to use for everyone in the team.
Make it happen! (examples)
Once we created a prototype by Powerpoint with embedded videos. That
was also a great success! Again, you don’t need to be a designer to put
together a basic concept representation with PPt! Just use your creativity,
and focus on your hypothesises!
Friday - User testing
This is the day where you will learn probably the most! You are going to show
your concepts / product ideas to its future audience. You are probably eager
to validate whether this product would have a positive impact on the people’s
life/work/health/.. and its relevant to your business goals at the same time.
Don’t panic if you reveal that none of your product is a good fit! Think about
how much time you saved from developing solutions that would otherwise end
up not being used at all!
Exercises for the Friday
Prepare the sessions
Prepare the sessions
What are the assumptions that you are testing? Remember you are not
trying to test usability, but rather focus on the bigger picture. Are you really
solving the right challange? Are you solving it the right way? That should be
Besides preparing the interview, you need to make sure that everything is
set and ready! Get a quiet room, recorder, establish a sneak to the others
(lifesize system or skype call so they can also listen in without disturbing
Remember, validating is the whole purpose of your week, make it work! But
make the best out of it.
Conduct the interviews
Interview 5 customers, 1:1. Dont make the same mistake as we did
Make sure you have
1. the most important assumptions listed you want to test
2. a safe environment for your users
3. good recordings & live video feed
4. right amount of users invited who fit your persona profile!
5. sufficient time scheduled with breaks
OK. Your sprint is done. Officially. But what are you going to do with all the
results, recordings, sketches, images, etc...
It is really important to acknowledge that “real work“ starts after your sprint.
You need to analyze your results systematically, and draw your conclusions.
Your results might end up as backlog items, ready to be picked up by the dev
team! But it can also happen that you realize that you need another round
of validation from a different aspect.
Make sure you take the time on Monday to accumulate your knowledge,
and design the right follow up steps that fits your development cycles.
created by Katalin Doczi
TOPdesk / Customer Solutions
If you have any questions, suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact Katalin
Doczi (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ivette van Putten (email@example.com).
 Photo by GV Design, 2016
All unmarked photos are either by Katalin Doczi or Ivette van Putten.
Illustrations are created by Jake Knapp, and originates from the book; Knapp
j.,Zeratsky J., Kowitz B. (2016) Sprint
Our process is also inspired by the book; Banfield R., Lombardo c.t., Wax t., (2015)