Is a design sprint the right choice for your digital product? A guide on when to apply it for the greatest impact. Part 1.

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By Maria Victoria De Santiago

September 20, 2022

This article is part of a series that centers on Design Sprints. Find Part 1: an overview of Design Sprints here, and Part 3: a guide on when to apply other methodologies here.

Design sprints are a well-known tool we use to validate ideas and solve challenges through prototyping and later testing solutions with users. As a short process, it’s extremely useful most of the time – but how to tell if a design sprint is the right tool for your project? Read on to find out more and be on the lookout for part 2!

Design sprints have – deservedly – gained a reputation as a wonderful tool for solving problems and needs in a quick, efficient and tested manner. It appeals to many different profiles, from business strategy to innovation and product design, which makes it a widely used tool.

However, as much as we love design sprints – and regardless of how popular they are – they are not always the right tool to use, or it might not be the right moment to run one. So… when is it right to go for a Design Sprint and when should you go for something else? Let’s dive into it. 

Let’s start from the beginning: what, actually, is a design sprint?

I’ll share a short description, but you can click here for a more thorough analysis of the methodology and its benefits.

Design sprints are a valuable and reliable vehicle to extract meaning derived from a rigorous process of problem-solving and design thinking — If done correctly.

Design sprints, then, are a great way to face product challenges and opportunities. They quickly help to identify uncertainties, generate ideas and solutions, and test them with users. This iterative process allows you to rapidly validate your product designs, making this methodology an essential tool in today’s dynamic market.

“A Design Sprint is like fast-forwarding into the future, so you can see how customers react before you invest all the time and expense of creating your new product, service, marketing campaign… or whatever!”

– Jake Knapp

In a nutshell, design sprints can help you:

– Solve complex challenges quickly

– Make better product decisions

– Improve your product designs

– Accelerate your product development cycle

– Avoid unnecessary product development costs

Design sprints are typically conducted over the course of five days, leveraging a cross-disciplinary team. The process begins by focusing on a specific challenge at hand, followed by idea generation and solution testing. By day 5, you’ll be able to present your findings to key stakeholders.

So, if you have a product challenge or opportunity ahead: When is a good idea to run a design sprint?

  • When the challenge ahead is BIG and IMPORTANT enough. 

A design sprint is a great option if you’re facing an important product decision and need to test different ideas quickly and efficiently.

It should be not only big enough but also important enough that you’ll want to dedicate 5 days of work to it. Time is a valuable asset for everyone, so getting the rest of the time to jump in on this sprint with you might be challenging in itself. If you can convince everyone, then it looks like what you’re trying to tackle is important enough for everyone involved. 

  • When there is no clear solution to your challenge.

If there’s no evident or obvious solution to solve your challenge, design sprints are a great tool. 

  • If the problem benefits from a CROSS FUNCTIONAL TEAM collaboration.

Consider running a design sprint when your challenge is complex enough that it cannot be tackled by just one perspective. When it’s not only an engineering challenge or a marketing challenge. If one team can solve it, you might want to take a look at other design thinking tools but you probably don’t need a full design sprint.

What’s great about design sprints is the way they build bridges across teams and perspectives. Intense, close collaboration creates a relationship between teams that might not be used to working together and rallies everyone around a shared challenge. As a result, everybody collaborates and makes decisions toward a prototyped solution.

  • If innovation and different results are a key part of success.

If you always do things in the same way, you will probably get the same results. Thriving innovation and disruptive solutions just cannot flourish in meeting packed schedules, where our attention is also divided between e-mails and Slack messages. Innovation comes as a result of deep-focused, uninterrupted collaboration. If you decide to go for a design sprint, make sure that everybody agrees that’s what is needed for your challenge, and commit to it!

I hope this clears up your ideas on design sprints! Coming up next, we’ll analyze the situations where design sprint might not be your best choice. In the meantime, feel free to reach me at and discover what we can accomplish together!