What happens after a Design Sprint?

This is a very commonly asked question on the interwebs, also very common with anyone I have ever spoken to about design sprints. What happens after a design sprint is determined by how the validation or invalidation of the prototype went, the user feedback you got out of the test and what the decider wants to do with the outcomes. In this post, I will focus on the 3 main actions I have seen taking place after a design sprint.

If you are reading this post I am assuming that you already have an idea of what design sprints are.  You may also be looking into running one yourself, whatever the reason may be, this post is targeted to people who know why and when to run design sprints and will not go into detail on how sprints work or why you need to be running them.  If you do know what design sprints are and would like to find out more about how they work, when to run them and why you should be running design sprints.

So, you have spent the whole week planning, designing and working together as a team to build and validate a prototype. Now you have tested your big idea with 5 users and have got some valuable feedback. Congratulations on the sprint, but what is going to happen next? Depending on your findings and how the feedback from the user testing, here are the 3 main things that are likely to happen after a Design Sprint. I also recently did a podcast answering the same question, see below;

1. End the project –

Now, this is not where many of you thought it would go or the first outcome I would say a sprint may go but unlike most situations, in a design sprint, this is a good thing.  The whole point of running a design sprint is to help the decider make the hard decisions on the project and help the team decide if they should take the idea to production or not.

The sprint can help save a company from losing money and time on a project that may not be technically feasible or that does not answer any user needs making it not usable and not desirable for anyone to use.  The process is designed to help the team pick the right thing to solve for and see if it works before committing to full design and production. This is a perfect situation to assess of you would like to focus on a different solution or feature in a different sprint or would like to go back to the drawing board and rethink the business idea altogether.

2. Have an iteration sprint –

So you have a working prototype but the user feedback was not that great, the Ideas you have tested partially worked and now you have a good idea of what worked and what did not. After user testing, you will also have a good idea of what the users would prefer to have in the product or service and would have many ideas on how you could improve the product. It is not a total failure so what do you do next.

Depending on how the team feels about the feedback and suggestions, running an iteration sprint to unpack new ideas and refine old ones could be the practical thing to do. This could come in different flavors; A shorter 3-day sprint or a full 5-day sprint, depending on the needs of the team and how much time you will need to solve for a new idea that came from the feedback or improve a few things that you may have missed.

The iteration sprint is usually a shorter and more precise sprint, allowing the team to rectify their ideas to better match the user needs. If you will be doing the iteration sprint to polish up your prototype, you may not need the full sprint team other than the people working on the prototype and a check-in with the decider to if you are on the right track.

3. Handover and build –

This is what a lot of people think and would like to be the ideal outcome of any design sprint. You have a working prototype, your idea resonates with your users and the usability of the prototype has been well received by the users you have tested with. This is not always the case but a very good place to be in and exciting to have the go-ahead from the decider make the prototype come to life.

Depending on the fidelity of your prototype, you may do straight into production or may still need to do some design work and fill in the transition screens from the key screens in your prototype. Transition screens may be parts of the user journey that you have not included in the prototype like a notification on the screen or some smaller micro-interactions you may want to add.

Handing over a prototype to production requires you to document the user flow, UI designers and any other design assets that may be required. This looks different from team to team depending on the software the team uses and the delivery system they use whether it may be Agile or waterfall.

There are other things that may happen in a design sprint that may change the outcome, but these are the major 3 directions that a project usually goes after a sprint. I would like to know how your design sprints have gone and what were the next steps you did after the sprint. Use #designsprintsa to send questions and comments on Linkedin, twitter, and facebook.

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Varima Henry

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