A design sprint is a five-phase framework that helps answer critical business questions through rapid prototyping and user testing. Sprints let your team reach clearly defined goals and deliverables and gain key learnings, quickly. The process helps spark innovation, encourage user-centred thinking, align your team under a shared vision, and get you to product launch faster.

The five phases are:

  1. Understand
  2. Sketch
  3. Decide
  4. Prototype
  5. Validate


During the Understand phase, your team comes together to explore the business problem from all angles. You’ll create shared knowledge and essentially unite under a shared brain.

This phase involves lightning talks, which are 10- to 15-minute sessions given by knowledge experts who discuss different aspects of the business problem. For example, one expert might talk about the business case, another might present a competitor audit, and a third might go over existing user research.

The Sprint Master captures the ideas and information created on whiteboards around the room. Team members can then use these whiteboards as visual references and inspiration for the rest of the sprint.


During the sketch phase, individual team members are given the time and space to brainstorm solutions on their own.

During the sketch phase, individual team members are given the time and space to brainstorm solutions on their own. We have found that the most innovative ideas are often produced by individuals in concentrated thought. Expanding on these ideas as a team comes later. Make sure your sprint is set up to support creativity during the Sketch Phase. The room should be quiet and free of distraction and everyone should be well fed, well rested, and feeling inspired.


The Decide phase is when the team chooses which ideas should be prototyped.

After each person presents their solution sketch, a vote is held. First, you Present & Vote. If you’re lucky this will result in obvious winners, but more often than not there will be some hiccups. For example, there may not be a clear consensus or people may feel pressured to vote how the team leader is voting. Don’t fret. There are a variety of methods that can help foster consensus.


In the context of Design Sprint, we use the word prototype in a slightly different way than in standard product development. A design sprint prototype is a facade of the experience you have envisioned in the sketch phase.

You are building just the barest elements of what you need to make the prototype real enough to get an authentic response from a potential user in the Validate phase. This means mapping out the exact flow for the experience and only building the steps you want to test. There is no need to build a fully functional back-end or to solve for every flow in your product.

You can think of your prototype as an experiment in order to test out a hypothesis. This means you have to think critically about what you will build in order to get the feedback you need to validate or invalidate your hypothesis.

Anything can be prototyped in a day if it is clearly mapped out.


The Validate phase is the Design Sprint moment of truth. Your team will finally get to see live users interact with their ideas and hear direct feedback from your target audience.

Watching your users try out the prototype is the best way to discover major issues with your design, which in turn lets you start iterating immediately. On many product teams, the user experience designer or the researcher are the primary people who interact with users; in a Design Sprint everyone on the team observes the Validation sessions. This is critical to capturing learnings, putting concepts to the test, and making the theoretical tangible by exposing product decision makers to user feedback in real time.

Validation with your end users you might set up a Usability Study or Cognitive Walk Through. This is also a good time to get feedback from Technical Experts or Leadership Stakeholders.

Deck template

Sprint brief template


Original author / source: Design Sprint Kit