You may be asking after you read the title — what’s a design sprint?!

We believe this video best describes what the design sprint is, featuring the team behind its development (it’s also just 90 seconds, so).

The design sprint has helped many groups in solving design problems — groups found in various industries such as technology, education, energy, government, humanities… there are a lot to mention. Even the United Nations has taken part in a design sprint!

With the impact the design sprint has created in the tech community, we here in Zoog decided to conduct one as a team.

Taking a break from work to perform another work — albeit more fun

But before that, how did we come up with designs for our products?

“Before, there were only three of us who would come up with products to create,” our UX designer Mat Salazar narrates. It was him, our CEO Kenneth Baylosis and our research and development head Arnie Lavares who only took part in the initial brainstorming session — with Kenneth coming up with the idea, and Arnie and Mat adding their own inputs. Mat did the nitty-gritty work involved in the design process, coming up with different forms and iterations of how the products would look like. This whole process took a long time — the design phase took 1-2 weeks alone.

Mat discovered the design sprint through a design conference he attended in Cebu. It caught his attention, so he decided to handle one with the team.

Because we don’t have the luxuries of whiteboards and stuff, we resort to other ways. Trust us, we’re engineers.

The usual design sprint lasts for five days, but for Zoog’s version, Mat decided to compress the process into two days, dividing the stages of the sprint into two and shortening the time limit for each stage, all in all totaling to about an hour a day (Our team still has work to do for the rest of day, after all). Our whole team is also divided into two groups who will each propose solutions of their own to present as many proposals as possible. Additionally, design sprints are usually done to create a whole product to solve an existing problem, but Zoog has only organized them to solve design bottlenecks for a product that’s already existing.

Design sprints for Zoog, in general, have been limited and experimental in nature. Still, despite the constraints, they have proven to be a huge help for us as a team and as a company.

For one, our developers and QA engineers acquire more skill sets. Their analytical skills are further cultivated, and they learn how to do design thinking. “Nowadays it’s easy to find people who know how to code or test applications,” Mat says. “But this process has given our devs and QAs an edge among the many because they go beyond that. This gives them more value to the industry.”

Our team, who are more than just programmers

Also, ideation has never been more efficient. The three-man team that used to do the planning now has become a bigger group of more than 10, which has made brainstorming more productive of ideas that work. “The ideas of the developers and the QA engineers have helped in validating the ideas we [Mat, Arnie and Kenneth] have thought of firsthand,” Mat shares. “If our ideas are more or less the same, it confirms that the ideas are good. If they’re different, then we rethink our initial idea and try to understand why our devs and QAs thought differently. In the end, we come up with a combination of our ideas.”

In turn, this has allowed the brainstorming process within the team to be more inclusive. Our developers and QA engineers are not just involved in the development and testing phases — they are now involved in creating our products from the very first step of the whole process. For Mat, this excites them as they now see the big picture, too. This makes them feel more fulfilled when the process is complete because they have been part of it from the beginning.

Lastly, the design process isn’t just about having the Eureka moment and making mockups out of it anymore. “Here in the Philippines, we tend to be like, ‘Hey, I have an idea!’ and proceed to make it immediately without thinking if the idea works,” Mat shares. “I’ve learned that building tech solutions is more than just thinking of ideas. We have to take into account if there are users who will accept them. The design sprint is a way to validate that.”

All things said — and with the other stories of success — we fully recommend for other companies to conduct their own design sprints.

“It’s always good to try something new, when you know that it has worked for others.”

A pizza party after a design sprint is also recommended 🍕

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