Design Sprints

Design sprint: design thinking plus time boxing

Design sprints combine design thinking methods with a multidisciplinary team and time boxing – from an idea to a tested prototype within only one week

A design sprint workshop is comparable to a sprint from agile development (such as an iteration from SCRUM). It uses a selection of design thinking methods and the knowledge of a multidisciplinary team to complete a complete user centred design life cycle in just one week. This approach is not only extremely economical, but also enormously helpful to effectively communicate your idea and vision within the team and company.

In a design sprint workshop a methodically trained design sprint coach accompanies the design sprint team over a period of five days. In contrast to a design thinking workshop, the activities of the five days match the five phases of design thinking. This offers additional advantages: the topic has priority over other tasks, the participants stay engaged in the topic and ideas can be tested and experienced directly. The design sprint coach facilitates the design sprint, empathizes different perspectives, and helps to come to valuable group decisions.

A design sprint workshop is especially useful if you want to work on and test essential findings, which have a significant impact on the success of a product. Furthermore, the tight time frame creates a stronger cohesion within the design sprint team. However, the success of a design sprint also depends on the facilitation skills of the design sprint coach. An experienced design sprint coach helps the design sprint team to develop its full potential and to focus on the common goal of the group despite different perspectives and backgrounds.

A typical (but very unproductive) day of work:

001 sun











002 moon

These working days may be long, but that does not mean that they are necessarily productive. Studies by the University of California have shown that any kind of work interruption delays work by an average of twenty-three minutes. A design sprint offers a completely different approach.

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During a design sprint, the team works focused on a shared goal for a period of five days straight. Each day addresses an important step in the overall process.

001 search


  • analyze problem
  • share expertise
  • set sprint focus
006 planning


  • gather inspiration
  • generate solutions
  • sketch alternatives
002 hand


  • choose solutions
  • combine advantages
  • create building plan
005 mobile app


  • collect data
  • write tasks
  • build prototype
004 checklist


  • conduct user study
  • evaluate study
  • apply findings
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At the end of the sprint, there is clarity about which (product) ideas work and which ideas are unlikely to be successful.

Regardless of the domain, whether it is websites, smartphone apps, medical reports, high-tech hardware, decision making, prioritization, marketing strategies or AI, Design Sprints can be implemented in any work environment if moderated accordingly.

Well-known users & proponents of Design Sprints are for example:

  • Google Ventures
  • Foundation Medicine
  • Nest
  • Blue Bottle Coffee
  • Anne Wojcicki (founder of 23andMe)
  • Evan Williams (founder of Twitter, Blogger, and Medium)
  • Chad Hurley & Steve Chen (founders of YouTube)
  • Steve Cousins (founder of Savioke)

During a design sprint, the work of many months is achieved in just five days using design thinking methods

Target group

Any kind of team-based work that involves

  • developing new & innovative ideas
  • prioritizing decisions
  • choosing strategies
  • elaborating ideas
  • solving problems
  • testing possible solutions
  • shortcutting expensive coding
  • gathering user feedback
  • reinventing your business
  • answering product-related questions


  • Efficient answering of critical questions avoiding endless debates, lengthy discussions and unproductive meetings
  • Using synergy effects in the team
  • Including individual strengths & competences
  • Structured working and highest productivity in shortest time without loss of quality
  • Risk minimization: identify potential project failures at an early stage before making expensive investments


  • How can problems be structured efficiently?
  • How do you make use of the expertise of the individual team members?
  • How can discussions and project durations be shortened?
  • Which questions should be answered in the course of the project?
  • What is the potential risk of an idea failing?
  • How do you identify wrong assumptions?
  • How do you ensure a common level of knowledge within the team?
  • Which ideas are worth testing and pursuing?
  • How do you generate good ideas for the identified questions and problems?
  • How can generated ideas be transformed into testable and evaluable prototypes?
  • How do you test your built solutions?
  • How do you conduct user tests?
  • What are the next steps for a successful product?


The participants learn the process of the design sprint through the developing of a concrete, self-determined question. This improves the expertise of the employees in carrying out design sprints independently. At the same time, you accelerate the project progress enormously. The methodology combines findings from business strategies, innovation potential, behavioural research for teamwork and design aids in an overall process that ensures greater productivity in a shorter time.

You want to try out a design sprint, but don’t have five days in a row?

The activities of a design sprint build upon each other. It is therefore possible to address the user study at a later point in time. At UX Academy, we are happy to accommodate for shortened design sprints of three or four days –  however, we highly recommend the full five-day workshop to ensure maximum results.

How can we help you?

You want to empower your employees through UX training, build internal expertise or need support with user-centric projects? Feel free to contact us for a non-binding consultation.

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