White Arrow Pointing To The Left Of The Screen
Jose Moya
Back to Blog

Design Thinking vs Design Sprints


Have you ever felt in trouble with creative roadblocks that keep piling up? If yes, then don't worry: you are not alone! Design Thinking and Design Sprint are two promising solutions. If you're wondering how these two techniques differ, we'll explore their similarities and differences. We'll look at how these methods can revolutionize design processes. Let's uncover how they can supercharge innovative thinking and delight ever-growing audiences!

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking (DT) is a term that refers to a creative approach to problem-solving. It focuses on non-linear and human perspectives to understand user experience. It develops innovative solutions to meet user needs while redefining problems. It emphasizes defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing something before launching it. These qualities make it possible to solve the issues involved when designing.

How does Design Thinking Work?

Design Thinking's operational process covers five stages before launching something. These stages help designers ideate ways to test products and make necessary changes. They use it to prevent companies or clients from possible issues. That said, these stages are: 

1. Empathizing. The first step is to cover all needs users and audiences may have profoundly.
2. Defining. Here, you should analyze data to discover critical aspects and define problems.
3. Ideating. What are the problems' potential solutions? Look further to detect patterns! This phase also involves determining which solution can solve each part of the problem teacherly.
4. Prototyping. This stage refers to bringing those innovative solutions to life. It involves building and applying them while focusing on achieving the desired goal.
5. Testing. The last part covers testing all the prototypes to see how users react. It will help to identify which features needs improvements or if there is any mistake!

Pros and Cons of Design Thinking

Design Thinking methodology produces user-centered designs. These may vary between pros and cons that result after considering using it. Still, they'll depend on how a designer takes actions and appear in different ways, such as: 

Pros of Design Thinking

Speeding Up Solution-Making Processes. This method can facilitate how producing solutions. It makes the process faster to approach costumer's needs accurately. Once it covers them, designers can ideate solutions faster than conventional methods.
Generating a Productive Approach. This approach helps designers test the proposed solutions. It allows them to modify them if they need changes to reach the customer's goal. At the same time, it permits obtaining more suitable solutions based on this approach.
Enabling Dissemination Processes. This condition helps to grow innovative solutions. It ensures that designers approach business culture and combine it with clients' needs. It does this to ensure the dissemination needed to achieve higher goals. 

Cons of Design Thinking

Medium-Long Duration. This process can take approximately 7/8 months. While it can present lighter versions, these often require more effort. This length can often mean a drawback in the goal-reaching timeframe.
Users' Direct Involvement. This procedure can put designers in a challenging position. It enables users to contribute, yet this feature can need more time and resources.
Use Restrictions. This method can run into different limits. In most scenarios, these come from designing enterprise solutions. Still, these limitations usually come with integrating already-live systems.

Why use Design Thinking?

After reading about Design Thinking's interactions, it's time to explain its relevance. Why should you use it? The main point is that it offers several benefits for problem-solving when designing. This method allows designers to approach problems and evaluate situations faster. Therefore, goal achievement becomes an everyday task. 

Another reason for using it lies in how a practical tool can be. This tool can allow us to deal with problems we never thought we could solve. We can cover different insights and approaches to start testing products with it. Then, the process gets more accurate before presenting a final result. 

What is a Design Sprint?

A Design Sprint (DS) is an intense five-day process to improve product design by creating realistic prototypes. It comprises design team members and can include other groups if the project requires it. Sprints can also help to design and redesign products to solve problems. 

How do Design Sprints Work? 

Regarding quality, there are five stages in a Design Sprint Process. They go from Mapping, sketching, deciding, and prototyping to testing. Each step is a specific day, and team members successfully achieve the assigned work.

Day 1: Mapping (Understanding the problem)
Sprints begin with conversations focused on solution ideas. This structure helps the team to determine all the essential parts. Also, this stage embodies the product risks and prospects.

Day 2: Sketching (Brainstorming)
On day 2, the plan is to solve the problem by thinking and applying all the ideas. They set out to get a clear point of view and solution with the team. 

Day 3: Deciding (Making the right decisions)
Day 3 refers to choosing the right option to develop and deciding how this will look like. 

Day 4: Prototyping (Bringing the idea to life)
This stage involves creating the prototype from the drawing board. It prepares the product to show and approaches the time to get things ready. 

Day 5: Testing (Testing the prototype with users)
On day 5, we must create the product, and it's time to test it. Here, the sprint team will get the results and opinions from the target audience. This data helps to understand their thoughts individually to enhance potential solutions. This stage works in another way instead of waiting for all the users in massive testing.

Pros and Cons of Design Sprints

As a result of creative burnout, Design Sprints can be an activity with an intriguing performance. This performance usually comes up with diverse pros and cons like the following:

Pros of Design Sprints

Environment. This method helps to avoid lengthy debates while brainstorming, enabling teams to reduce their stress levels when working.
Collaboration: It builds a dynamic and collaborative environment. This part helps designers to Increase creativity and experimentation while getting suggestions.
Understanding: It enables designers to get better insights from clients or co-workers.

Cons of Design Sprints

High Goal Rate. Design Sprints can lead to more proposed goals than a team can do in one week if not appropriately planned. If so, designers can get overwhelmed and less productive.
Not-Guaranteed Success. Even if it's a method to help designers, success might need much effort. Sometimes this can produce intense environmental risks, which is a team drawback.
Health Issues. Like all under-pressure approaches, it can lead to stress and anxiety. Most of the time, these withdrawals come from the ambition and demanding behavior it requires.

Why use Design Sprints? 

At this point, the biggest question is, why use Design Sprints? The answer is that it's a method that reduces time and costs for everyone. It can disappear a large number of debates and discussions between workers. Then, they can use this time to ideate, prototype, and test products faster.  Additionally, it helps to understand problems quickly. With it, the originality becomes easier to decide which idea is the best one. As a result, prototyping gets feedback faster than ever with higher results. 

Design Sprints vs Design Thinking

After covering both terms, it's the moment to see what differentiates them. At first, Design Thinking focuses more on the end-user to choose and meet the users' needs. Conversely, Design Sprint prefers to deliver solutions while covering all details. 

In other terms, time management is another crucial difference between them. DS works through a 5-day sprint to ideate solutions. However, DT has a more flexible approach to obtaining the results by the end of a determined week. Still, both methods have different systems that can benefit anyone. Then, the decision will depend on what is the project's scope. Both can offer solutions to reach long-term goals. 

Design Thinking in Design Sprints 

Both techniques offer beneficial features, but did you know they can work together? Yes, they can combine their methods to help you design things faster. The best example is a project in which a company lacks creativity. The best option may be Design Thinking, yet, using Design Sprint is also crucial. Combining both allows to ideate solutions and needs in a reduced time.

Once they establish the goals, they can use DT's restructures to ideate solutions. At the same time, they can manage them through DS' chronogram to reduce time and costs. Also, they can use DS's method to obtain more solutions and options. Then, they're able to protect them through DT's approach. So, the result gets a better understanding with less time wasted.  

Final Thoughts 

Design Thinking and Design Sprints are excellent design tools placed in our life. They can make our life easier if we use them to create stunning products and experiences. However, they both have their magic that makes them unique to us. So, to decide between them, we must focus on understanding what we need. Both can offer us a world of possibilities to solve our problems.  In another sense, considering your business goals is the easiest way to decide which is better. Since they can work together, you can ensure success through collaboration. Take your time to play and try to escape that lack of creativity and problems!