Remote Design Sprint: This is how we do it

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Did you know that you can have your ideas tested by a high-fidelity prototype in only 5 days? You have a vision; we have a magical tool called The Design Sprint. Here we describe how we run it in CN Group.

What you will find in this article:

  • what is a Design Sprint?
  • how to get to amazing results in 5 days
  • what you need to prepare
  • the best thing about the Design Sprint
  • what comes after the Design Sprint

What is a Design Sprint?

The Design Sprint is a step by step design process created by Google Ventures to help prototype and validate ideas. Before investing money into developing a minimum viable product we can prototype your idea and see if it makes sense to the users first.

We go from nothing to a high-fidelity prototype. But to get there, we need to do many short exercises and activities. Don’t worry, most people find them intriguing and a lot of fun! 1 team. 1 week. 1 challenge.

Week Info

There are many ways to run the Design Sprint. It can take 4 or 5 days. Since we have done over 30 of them in CN Group here is our advice how to get the best out of this method. We encourage you to clear your schedule and invest the time for all 5 days of the Design Sprint. Everything takes time. This way, we will have more time for creating a shared understanding of the problem and, most importantly, for prototyping. We can run it face to face or remotely. Due to the current pandemic I would like to describe the process of the remote version in more detail. Let’s dive in.

“Amazing results in 5 days” is not just a good workout teaser

Day by day. From Monday to Friday. Here is a brief summary of what you can expect to get through during the week of the Design Sprint.

5 day process of design sprint

I know. It seems so easy, it makes you want to rush in and start tomorrow. But wait!

First, you need to prepare

What do I need to prepare, you ask? People, workspace, and the mindset.

You can do it! (Just not alone)

Getting from nothing to a testable prototype in one week is not as easy as it sounds (seriously, it is not). Before the Design Sprint you need people to fill in these three roles.

Core team

Usually there are three people from your company and three people from us. It is suggested to diversify your team, so we have people from different departments. A Solution Architect? A Developer? Somebody from customer’s services? The Core team has to be available for the whole week of the Design Sprint. A very important role in the core team is The Decider, somebody from your organisation who makes the important decisions.

face to face meeting

Tip: Decider could be your CEO or the future product owner.


Not everybody who has something to say about the project can be available for the whole week. That’s OK, we only need them for 20 minutes. An Expert is somebody who can give an idea, or a little piece of information, that can take the group outside the box.

Tip: Anybody who knows something about the product or target clients (finances, marketing, …).


The whole core team will contribute to the final prototype so obviously we cannot test it by ourselves. We need somebody who has not seen the prototype before. Every tester needs to be available for 45 - 60 minutes on the last day.

Tip: The best tester would be a potential end user of the final product.

Is preparation really the key to success?

Nope. But it helps. A lot!

We all know that long meetings can be exhausting and dreadful. That's why preparing in advance is important. It saves time.

Before the actual Design Sprint week, we have a short meeting with everybody from the core team to:

  • introduce ourselves and do a short chit-chat to get to know each other, because for one week we are going to be the closest of co-workers 😊
  • listen to what you have to say about the challenge
  • talk about what you can expect from the Design Sprint
  • answer all of your (and their) questions
  • show you the tools we are going to use. We use Miro board for a whiteboard, Teams for video conference and Figma for prototyping

Even remotely we run it smoothly

Workspace setup with arrows

In the picture above you can see literally everything you need for a remote Design Sprint. Usually, during a face to face Design Sprint, you have a room full of whiteboards, flip charts and notes with sketches taped to the walls. Lucky for us (and you) there are already many digital whiteboards that help us to keep all the necessities (pictures, sketches, notes, feedbacks) in one place. Thanks to this wonderful invention we make sure everybody knows what is happening and we can collaborate on exercises just as well as during a face to face meeting. Our option #1:  Miro board. Thanks to Microsoft Teams we have a place for screen sharing (this comes in handy especially during prototyping and testing) & videoconferencing. Not to mention that sharing files and recording user testing is a piece of cake.

Bonus: Using a digital whiteboard prevents you from losing all notes & sketches when your cleaning lady decides the meeting room is a big mess and throws away your notes. (Yes, that happens.)

So, what is the key to success?

After the many Design Sprints we have had in CN Group over recent years, we have three most important tips you need to keep in mind:

  • Focus on the challenge and clear your schedule as much as possible for the actual Design Sprint week, we need your 100% engagement even if it is not a face to face process.
  • If something is not crystal clear, ask, comment, communicate, don’t stay muted! 😊
  • Take risks! There will be a time when we all have to decide on what is the most important for the week. Even if you are not an adrenaline junkie, this is the time and place for big risks and adventurous behaviour!

So… what is the best thing about the Design Sprint?

This is very simple, so here it is: We cannot fail! Whether we manage to deliver on Friday a prototype that is praised by testers, or the users leave confused and sad, we win. If users are happy, you know you are going in a good direction. You will know you have a prototype you can build on, and it’s easy to see that’s a great start for a project! Even if users are not so happy with the prototype and they do not understand everything, you did not spend months implementing it. You spend only five days and you are not starting empty handed, you know what not to do.

What comes after the Design Sprint?

Well, that is totally up to you. Some of our customers decide to update the prototype based on the feedback from end users and retest it again. Some of them have solid preparation for starting the project.

However usually the next steps are:

  • finetune the prototype based on the feedback from the end users (or finetune the design for views which were not part of the Design Sprint)
  • not mandatory but recommended: do interviews with your end users again to review the changes
  • agree with our sales department about conditions for starting a pilot project
  • Project Kickoff! Usually a two day process were we go through the backlog, do the poker planning, discuss Definition of Done and Acceptance Criteria and everything you need to make sure everybody understands the goal of the project
  • Sprint by sprint working on the project with daily communication between the customer and the team.

As we already said, this is totally up to you. To sum it up, this is what you have at the end of the Design Sprint:

  • A high-fidelity prototype that you can share and show to anybody who might be interested
  • video records of usability testing that you can replay and learn from
  • all the ideas, feedback and the whole process captured in a digital whiteboard

Want to know more?

We recommend reading the book The Design Sprint by Jake Knapp (Transworld Publishers Ltd, ISBN: 9780593076118) from which you can learn everything essential about Design Sprints. You can also contact us, and we can talk about Design Sprint possibilities with our company. We will be waiting and looking forward to the next wonderful Design Sprint experience! See you soon!

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photo Bachronikova
Alžbeta Bachroníková
Frontend Developer
30 Nov 2020
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