Getting a Sprint completed in a week can be a massive accomplishment. At the end of it, you’ll have achieved clarity over your proposed concept, established what could be achieved in just 5 days, and have the data to back up your conversations with higher ups.
Unfortunately, running a successful Design Sprint can be a little complicated. Not only are there the logistics of getting everyone to commit a week of their time to it, but there’s also the pressure of making sure information stays fresh and focus is at 100% throughout. An unenviable task for sure.
The good thing is there are some items that can carry some of the burden of running a Design Sprint. What’s even better is that you may already have them in your office space to use at a moment’s notice.
What are some of the essentials in a Design Sprint toolkit you may ask? Timers, a whiteboard, sticky notes, pens/pencils, voting stickers, and idea fuel (food and drink).
Join us as we countdown 6 Design Sprint must-haves that facilitate a smooth, but still intense, week of prototyping and testing below.
Design Sprint Essentials
Movies with a bomb defusing scene are tense. The specialist surveys the circuitry, presses a combination of buttons, clips the right wire (it’s always red isn’t it?). But what makes it a sense of dread is the ticking timer (or the occasional shots of the timer slowly reaching zero). What I’m trying to say is timers help raise the stakes and create natural breaks on tasks.
Timers pressurise the entire week long process in ways you can’t achieve without one. Sure, your team may know what they have to accomplish in a week, but this leaves each task to chance during the week in terms of how long it will take, and increases the likelihood of dragging behind. Timers in the environment, whether they be wall clocks or Sprint specific timers force participants to complete tasks within the time available, improving focus, and in turn, their performance.
Whiteboard (and Markers)
Huge whiteboards are a Sprint team’s best friend. Whiteboards have the versatility of not only having a big presence in the room (they’re hard to miss), but using whiteboard markers mean that if anything changes, a point is a wipe away from being corrected, removed or expanded upon.
The value of a whiteboard is apparent at multiple points in a Design Sprint. From mapping out your team’s understanding of the customer journey, being a place to put up and annotate against possible solutions, or as a place to hold voting on solutions, the whiteboard is practically an extra set of hands during a Sprint.
In an era of Trello boards and digital to-do lists, the humble sticky note has fallen out of favour with the public for work and personal reminders.
But as Design Sprints require a digital blackout for the majority of tasks, the sticky note is a prime contender to fill the void in a Design Sprint and is a must in your toolkit.
A pack of brightly colour sticky notes is perfect for giving team members a chance to express their ideas and ask questions, while also being perfect for grouping to see a trend in the team’s ideas.
Pens, Pencils and Paper (and Tape)
Telling a room full of experts, high-level management and senior staff to use paper and pencils to sketch out designs and storyboards as if they were back in school never gets old.
What may seem like an archaic method these days is actually great for bringing designs to life. This is because:
- You can sketch out at speed
- If you make a mistake, you can erase it or start again
- You don’t need an expensive software package
- It doesn’t require you to know details like your ideal font size there and then
- Everyone, and even those who say they can’t draw, can draw.
At stages where pens, pencils and paper are in demand (like initial concepts and storyboarding), these pieces of paper can then be stuck up on the whiteboard or even against a wall using tape to display in front of the group.
With all the sticky notes and pieces of paper stuck up on the walls/whiteboards, you could just pick out what design appeals to you from the comfort of your seat. However that would be missing the point.
For Design Sprints, we love voting stickers as they force participants to engage with the process and get up close and personal with the concepts on show. It also allows mixed voting on concepts, so if you look two or more concepts, you can distribute your votes across multiple options or features of interest.
This has the added benefit of showing the general consensus visually. It’s all well and good to say I prefer A, but by the time you’ve got through the last person, you will need to have written down each vote, their second favourite etc. “What did you vote for again?”
Snacks and Drinks
Now if the idea of knuckling down for non-stop problem solving for fixed intervals sounds exhausting, you would be right. Having your team complete a Design Sprint is not easy and can be draining, making it more difficult to keep attention and motivation levels high.
The fixed set up with breaks and lunch creating gaps in the day means that participants only have limited time to grab food and decompress, so one way you can keep energy high is by providing the right fuel for thinking.
By providing healthy snacks and drinks, you can keep the best ideas coming throughout each interval in the Sprint week.
Looking to Run a Design Sprint?
If you want to run a Design Sprint but need a helping hand or don’t have the full toolkit in-house, the PixelTree can help.
PixelTree have run customer-focused design workshops to deliver crucial insights in just 5 days with everyone from SMEs to multi-national organisations, creating a foundation for new products, websites and apps.