wireframe-03How to run a design sprint in 5 days Archetype- The Stretched Designer grok_medium_262 grok_medium_2621




Looking to run a design sprint? With the help of the right people and tools, creating human-centered products in 5 days is easy.

This guide explains how you can successfully set up a design sprint and communicate your findings so you can launch the best possible products. Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right tools at your disposal.



Design sprints at a glance


1. Unpack

1. Unpack

  • Questions
  • Chalkmark
  • OptimalSort
  • Treejack
2. Co-design

2. Co-design

  • Lots of coffee
  • Post-its
  • Pens
  • Paper
3. Prototype

3. Prototype

  • Paper
  • Design skills
4. Validate

4. Validate

  • Reframer
  • Chalkmark
5. Feedback

5. Feedback

  • Treejack
  • OptimalSort
  • Chalkmark
  • Questions
  • Reframer

right questions


Preparing for your design sprint


The way you run your design sprint will depend on the specific question you want to answer or problem you want to solve. Here are a few questions you might want to start with and the tools to help you answer them: 

Is your site structured well?
You may want to consider a card sort using OptimalSort. Card sorting is a research technique that can show you how your customers expect to see information grouped on your website. You can also use a card sort to help you sort your content if you’re starting a website from scratch.
Can people find the information they want quickly and easily?

Tree testing with Treejack can help you figure out if people can find what they’re looking for on your website – and where they’re getting lost. It’s great for answering questions like "Is my content grouped in a logical way?" and "Do my labels make sense?"

Do your content and visual elements make sense?
First-click testing with Chalkmark shows you where a participant would click on a website when given a task to complete. It’s a great way to see if your design and labels make sense.
Want to learn more about your customer’s pain points?
Use a survey tool like Questions to better understand your users and identify themes.

informOnce you’ve defined your question, use the right method to learn more about the problem. You’ll also want to think about the person you’re solving the problem for. If you’ve got a persona in mind, great! If not, think about rough demographics and develop personas later.

Use this to inform who you actually recruit for your pre-sprint study and your testing phase later on. Starting with your own customers is often a good way to quickly find participants. Offer incentives and see if anyone is available to participate in person or remotely.

Finally, you’ll need to consider who you bring in to help you during your design sprint. Your team will vary depending on what problem you’re trying to solve, but it's a good idea to involve developers, designers, researchers, marketers, product managers or other stakeholders.


Running your design sprint


Now that you’ve got your tools, team and prep sorted, it’s time to start your design sprint. We’ve put together a sprint plan that you can run over the course of a week.

Day 1


Depending on the method that you chose during your prep phase, you’ll have different results to analyze — the data you get from a card sort is going to be quite different from that of a first-click test. Analyzing can take some mastery, so check out our research method 101s to get a good understanding of what you’ve gathered.

A good way to pull insights from your data is to group findings into general observations and user pain points.
Using the insights from your prep work, start to develop How Might We (HMW) questions. These help you to reframe pain point and observation statements into questions that you can focus your sprint on.

A good HMW question will help you frame how you think about possible solutions. A well-balanced question might be “how might we redesign online shopping to feel more personable?”

Day 2


Once your sprint team has developed a shared understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve, you can begin the next phase: co-design. This is when your sprint team works together to create a design (or multiple designs), instead of a single designer working alone. Co-design sessions have 2 steps:

  • Divergent design - everyone creates as many solutions as possible.
  • Convergent design - everyone chooses one solution and iterates on it.

Each HMW question will go through its own diverge and converge process. Again, you’ll want to repeat both of the above processes for each HMW question. Start with the riskiest questions you identified in the previous section.diverge converge

Nielsen Norman Group has some excellent tips on how to facilitate a successful co-design workshop.



After you’ve come up with some co-designed solutions, it’s time to start prototyping your designs.

If time only allows for rough sketches or paper prototypes, keep it simple and make sure they're clear enough for your participants to understand.
While the designers are making the prototypes, other team members should prepare for the upcoming test phase. If you didn’t have any luck recruiting during the prep phase, consider guerilla testing.


Validate your designs

Now that your prototypes are mocked up, it’s time to see if they make sense to your users. Using your prototypes from yesterday, run a first-click test with Chalkmark to figure out how your users interact with your designs.

If you have a little more time, conduct a usability test with Reframer to evaluate how easy and intuitive your designs are to use. The insights you get from your research participants will help you shape the next iteration of your design.reframer


Feedback and complete

Today is the last day of your sprint — hooray! Take some time to finalize your design and pull out the most useful recommendations to improve your product.

This is also an ideal time to share insights from your sprint with stakeholders. Here are a few tips to help you effectively share what you learned:

  • When sharing, start with a high-level overview of what a design sprint is and how they work.
  • Use visualizations from our tools to impress stakeholders with the data you’ve collected.love images
  • Run through initial research results and explain how you used them to inform the problem you needed to solve.
  • Present snippets from your user testing sessions to show real feedback from participants.
  • Talk through your recommendations and explain how they will affect your product and your business’s goals.

Wrap up

As you can see, running a sprint doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. In fact, with the right tools and a prepared team, it can be relatively easy and even fun! 


More useful resources

This isn’t the only method to sprint, feel free to iterate to suit your own needs. Here are some other great examples to get you going.

My journey running a design sprint

An article from Kelly, one of our designers, who explains how she ran a design sprint.

The sprint book

A book by Jeff Knapp that explains how to run a design sprint in-depth.

Lean UX book

Designing great products with agile teams. A book by Jeff Gothelf that shares how teams can incorporate rapid design and experimentation into their processes.

The guide to Agile UX design sprints

A free gated ebook from UX Pin that provides step-by-step guidance for running a sprint in an Agile workplace.