Design Sprints

“There’s a lot of talk around Design Sprints. What’s a Design Sprint, and why should my company care?”

A Design Sprint takes you from a challenge
to a testable prototype. In just 4 days.
It’s not enough to just build a good product. You have to build the right product. The right product brings the most value to your customer, and to build it, you need to test your ideas with real users, as fast as possible.

Design Sprints are the fastest and most cost-effective way to come up with innovative ideas, turn them into prototypes and test them. This way we gain user insights as soon as possible, instead of committing time and budget to a direction which may not be the right one.

We have used Sprints to design products like the breakout success Share The Meal for the World Food Programme, Zalon for Zalando (Europe’s largest ecommerce platform) and the innovative N26 Banking app. Our clients love Design Sprints because they replace guesswork and busymaking with real, tangible progress.

“If we do a Design Sprint with you, what can my company expect as an outcome?”

At the end of a Sprint, you will have a high-fidelity prototype and clear next steps.

Even if you start a sprint on Monday morning with nothing but a rough, long-term goal, you will end the week with a high fidelity prototype and feedback from real people. You can rapidly identify problems and correct your course immediately, until your product is ready to go to market.

Think of a sprint as a way to have a peek into a future where your product already exists – and seeing what people love or hate about it. Not only will you end up with a more relevant product, it will also save your company countless hours of development time and costs.

Even if you start with nothing but a broad, ill-defined challenge – your sprint will end with a high-fidelity prototype and feedback from real people.

Even if you start with nothing but a broad, ill-defined challenge – your sprint will end with a high-fidelity prototype and feedback from real people.

“How exactly does a Design Sprint work? I am not sure what my team and I can expect.”

In a Sprint, you move quickly from defining a challenge to generating solutions.

A Design Sprint is not about reaching perfection or making something that just looks pretty. A Sprint week starts off with a broad challenge. Based on this, a question is defined which needs to be answered at the end of the sprint. Several possible solutions are created, and then it’s decided which we committ to go forward with. This solution is developed into a high-fidelity prototype and tested with real people. From their feedback, we identify what they liked and what problems they had, and condense these learnings into clear best next steps. And yes – it is possible to do that in just 4 days. Here is a case study of using a Design Sprint to solve a very specific challenge for the UN.

Even if you start with nothing but a broad, ill-defined challenge – your sprint will end with a high-fidelity prototype and feedback from real people.

We begin every Design Sprint with our client working with us. We start off on Monday morning to define the question that needs to be answered at the end of Sprint Week.

Even if you start with nothing but a broad, ill-defined challenge – your sprint will end with a high-fidelity prototype and feedback from real people.

By working on solutions together with our clients, we both gain a better understanding of their goals and needs and avoid wasting valuable time on miscommunication.

Even if you start with nothing but a broad, ill-defined challenge – your sprint will end with a high-fidelity prototype and feedback from real people.

Every participant, including the client, sketches their ideal solution to the Sprint question. By getting ideas from everyone we gain access even ideas that otherwise might get overlooked or drowned out.

Even if you start with nothing but a broad, ill-defined challenge – your sprint will end with a high-fidelity prototype and feedback from real people.

The client decides which of the concepts should be turned into a high-fidelity prototype and tested. It’s possible to pitch two different concepts against each other, or just go forward with one.

Even if you start with nothing but a broad, ill-defined challenge – your sprint will end with a high-fidelity prototype and feedback from real people.

The goal of every Sprint is to test an interactive prototype with real users. This gives us immediate feedback on our assumptions, and clear next-best-steps that allow us to iterate and improve.

Even if you start with nothing but a broad, ill-defined challenge – your sprint will end with a high-fidelity prototype and feedback from real people.

After gathering the feedback of users, a clear pattern emerges on where our concept succeeded and where it failed. After just one week, these clear trends allow you to immediately improve on your concept in the following week, instead of waiting months.

After testing with real people, it becomes clear if the proposed solution is the way forward, and if it’s not, which changes would be necessary to go in the right direction. All it has taken us to gain these insights was one Design Sprint, instead of spending many months of fishing in the dark and wasting your money.By working in Design Sprints, we can compress work that would usually take months into days.

“How about training? Can you teach my product team to run their own Sprints?”

We would love to teach our methods to your employees and help them innovate faster.
Design Sprints are nothing magical. Anybody can learn how to use them to create value. We have trained several of our clients to use the exact same processes that we use every week. If you are interested in our Design Sprint Bootcamp, we would love to hear from you. Find out more here!

Intense, hands on, repeatable

When you pay for a design agency, at least 50% of your budget is going to “busywork”. This is simply work that keeps the agency employees busy, but has absolutely no value for you. Do you really think 3 weeks of research and benchmarking is really neccesary? No, it’s not and they know it too.

Yeah, we know that design agencies don’t like when we point this out, but it’s true: The large-scale, complicated hierarchies and superstar creative directors that were once key to agencies’ successes are now exactly what’s putting them in the ground. As agencies struggle to “go digital” and adapt their existing structure to a world that no longer has time to hang around and wait for them to get it right, we ask “Why should a project take 6 months, when it could take 8 days?”

As the antithesis of the traditional Design Agency, AJ&Smart has been lean and digital from day one. Using a core team of just 10 employees; AJ&Smart is dedicated to creating the best products and services, without wasting your time or budget. No busy-work, promise.