Google Is Racing to Speed Up Designs for New Products

Google aims to bring fast decision-making to software and product development processes by using something it calls "design sprints." Here's how they work.

Google Design Sprints

Google knows that, by tomorrow, new ideas and innovative technology can become old quickly. For the last four years, Google has been using a speeded-up design process it calls "design sprints," which are aimed at keeping innovations fresh, and now it is planning to share the process with outside developers.

The idea of taking design sprints out into the development community was announced in a July 10 posting on the Google Developers Blog written by Nadya Direkova, a staff designer and the design evangelist at Google[x].

"At Google and throughout the industry, we all agree that two things matter: design and speed," wrote Direkova. "But how can we do great design quickly? For our teams, one of our most important tools is the design sprint," which compresses a typical product design process of months or years into one made up of a week or less, she wrote.

"The design sprint combines key design and research methods and focuses on a single challenge or multiple challenges in parallel," wrote Direkova. "It brings all the stakeholders—designers, developers, product managers and other decision makers—into one place to work together on a short deadline. It often leads to insights and solutions more quickly than anyone thought possible. At Google, we've been using design sprints for over four years, from external projects like Ads, Glass and Project Loon to our internal tools."

To share its design sprint concepts, Google will be hosting events for select developers in the San Francisco Bay area this summer, she wrote, to give developers opportunities to design for platforms like Glass and Android Wear or to build projects with a material design approach.

Interested developers can sign up to get updates when these limited-seating events become available, wrote Direkova.

The design sprint events conducted by Google in the past have varied in size, with one having as many as 175 participants in 23 teams, she wrote. "How did that feel? As Cordell Ratzlaff, user experience director for [Google] ads and commerce, said: 'When you participate in a sprint, you either win or you learn.'"

Google used the design sprint concept at the Google I/O 2014 conference in June, where developers got to use them during some sessions. "We're really excited about sharing our design sprint methods more broadly," she wrote. "No matter what your challenge and design process, design sprints can help you reduce the time it takes to create great ideas. So make great things, and make them quickly."

Google is a frequent contributor to innovation and development efforts around the world.

The company announced on July 9 that it is targeting $100 million in new venture money in Europe to encourage entrepreneurs there to think about and develop innovations that can be brought to life with the help of the search giant. The initiative is being started by the company's Google Ventures arm, which was founded in 2009 as a venture capital fund that works with portfolio companies full time on design, recruiting, marketing and engineering. Google Ventures also includes a Startup Lab, which is a dedicated facility and educational program in which companies can meet, learn, work and share.