Things I wish I knew before my first Design Sprint

Luke Mitchell

There are plenty of great books, tutorials, and case-studies that can teach you to run a design sprint. But, at some point you have to take the plunge and put that learning into practice.

Design sprints encourage mistakes, practice and learning that’s what makes them so useful to the teams that run them. It also makes every design sprint unique, everyone learns something different from each, but especially the first time.

You’ll probably look back on the first few days and think “I wish I knew that before I started”. Feeling reflective I asked myself what some of mine were, I think the most important are:

Read ‘the book’ before every sprint, you’ve probably forgotten some part of the process.

One pack of post-its is not enough.

There will be at least one nervous person who says they “cannot draw”, their ideas will probably be some of the most interesting.

At thoughtbot we’re no strangers to design sprints. So, I thought I would ask the design team the same question and tap into their snippets of wisdom too, here’s a few of their little nuggets of gold:

Connie Chan - Designer

Don’t wear a belt, make sure you’re comfortable.

Don’t feel like you need to make a beautiful hi-fi prototype in a day to impress clients.

Jason Ramirez - Design Director

Expect to feel confused and overwhelmed at the end of day two.

The prototype isn’t the product. It’s a learning tool that will inform the product.

Kyle Fiedler - Chief Design Officer

People often underestimate the importance of the user testing and the failures/feedback it reveals.

Morgane Santos - Designer

Remember to take lots of breaks, drink water, and stand up and stretch. It’s too easy for it to become a series of all-day meetings, and that’s just tiring!

Sometimes it’s easy to blank on what the next step is; writing the schedule on the whiteboard helps set up expectations for clients and helps you remember what’s coming up next.

It’s going to feel like herding cats sometimes. Having someone else in the room to support you can make a huge difference, so try not to do sprints solo.

If you want to share your design sprint experiences get in touch, we’d love to hear more. Also we’re hosting a London Design Sprint Workshop at our office for those just getting started, and a London Design Sprint Panel Discussion at a nearby space both on September 20th.

More info: