Creating and testing a product takes a significant amount of time and money. But it doesn't stop there: You'll likely come across problems and issues long after a product launch, requiring you to answer critical questions to improve its quality and meet customer expectations. But what if there were an easier, faster way to get the job done?
Google Ventures (the search engine giant's venture-capital investment arm) has launched The Design Sprint, a website and book that aim to help startups improve their products in just one week. The Design Sprint takes three years' worth of work with companies like Blue Bottle Coffee, Nest, Foundation Medicine and Savioke to create this DIY resource to help other startups design, prototype and test their ideas.
The Design Sprint works by packing months of product planning into a five-day process. It consists of identifying a problem, brainstorming solutions and creating a prototype — all in just 40 hours. Here's how. [Ready, Set, Sell: 5 Steps to a Successful Product Launch]
The Design Sprint process is not only time-efficient, but also data-driven. It assigns specific action items to be accomplished during each of the five days.
First, Google advises startups to "set the stage" by preparing for the "sprint." This means identifying the problem, building a team, gathering supplies, preparing for testing, and creating schedules and deadlines.
Then, the sprint is broken down as follows over the next five days:
Monday - In this step, called "unpacking" day, members of your team will look at the problem and share their expertise on everything from design to engineering, sales and customer support. The process is meant to gather insights from the different aspects of how a product is made and sold, which then enables the team to work together and create a user story.
Tuesday - In this part of the sprint, known as "sketch day," team members work individually and sketch their solutions on paper. Then, there is a critique and voting process to choose the best ideas. This helps the team identify several solutions to the problem identified the day before as quickly as possible, and also in a concrete, visual way.
Wednesday - After choosing the best ideas from Tuesday, it's time to argue and decide which solution will get a prototype. Wednesday will also be used to create a storyboard or blueprint of the prototype and to find participants for testing day.
Thursday - Build a testable prototype in just 8 hours. This task may sound impossible, but The Design Sprint provides a strategic plan that entails assigning specific roles to team members to effectively get the job done.
Friday - Test your prototype with real-life customers using one-on-one interviews. The Design Sprint helps you identify critical questions, take notes, identify patterns, celebrate successes and learn from failures during testing day.
Find out more about The Design Sprint by visiting gv.com/sprint, which includes examples and how-to guides to start your own sprint. There, you can also sign up for more information about Sprint: The Book, which offers a detailed, step-by-step guide and behind-the-scenes looks at other sprints Google Ventures has done with other startups.