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What is a design sprint & why your tech startup needs one


Jack Verweij

Articles by Nova’s Marketing Executive, Jack Verweij.

Updated 21 April 22



The GV (Google Venture) design sprint guides a team with varying skills and expertise through the process of tackling a problem and developing a solution. This would normally take months of work, but it can be condensed into one week. This is achieved by collaboration and time bound processes, which results in creating and testing a prototype.


If you’re not familiar with the design sprint, here is a brief overview of the five-day process:


Monday: Map

Map out the problem, and select a specific point to focus on. This will really help your team gain an understanding of the problem and help establish a goal to work on for the rest of the sprint.


Tuesday: Sketch

Now that everybody in the team is familiar with the problem, focus on creating a solution. The day begins by gathering inspiration from existing solutions, fine tuning them, and ultimately looking at ways to improve them.


The afternoon consists of sketching solution ideas. Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be an artistic masterpiece, it just needs to be clear (think boxes and stick men!).


Wednesday: Decide

By now each member of the team will have their own solution to the problem. It’s unlikely that there will be time to prototype every solution. Instead, the team should choose the best ideas from each solution and then build a storyboard showcasing a final prototype.


Thursday: Prototype

It’s time to build the prototype. Each member of the team should be assigned a specific job or role to execute, based on their skills. As you only have one day to build your prototype, it shouldn’t include all the bells and whistles. Just make sure it functions well enough to solve your problem.


Friday: Test

Interview a group of users that fit the target market for your problem. The focus of this interview is to see how people interact with your prototype. This will give you an insight into what works, and what doesn’t. From here, you can create a plan based on the positives and the failures!


So, how could this benefit your startup?


It’s Fast

Contrary to the age old saying, building a prototype should be a sprint, not a marathon. Building a prototype after five intensive sessions should prove more conducive and efficient than building a complete product. 


Why is this? If you built a big finished shiny product and then found that your target users didn't engage with it, you may have already stretched your budget too far to make the changes needed. 


It’s okay for your prototype to fail

Failing can seem like a negative, but if you can work out the reasons why you have failed and learn from them, you’ll be one step closer to finding the best solution.


By gathering feedback from your user panel, you’ll discover the alterations required to build a successful digital product which meets their needs. Better still, take those learnings into a condensed sprint starting from Day 2 or Day 3, iterate on the prototype and test again.


It doesn’t have to be completed in a week

We all have commitments, and so setting aside a whole week for a design sprint isn't feasible for most. Instead, you can spread the separate days of the design sprint over several weeks. This method is still way more efficient than building and launching a full product.


At We Are Nova, we expect founders to work on their startup for only one day a week and so we tend to break the process up. Splitting the days over several weeks, or even combining the ‘Monday’ and ‘Tuesday’ of the sprint into one day, can help to ensure the process is achieved as efficiently as possible.


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