By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.

From Waterfall to Design Sprints

Section horizontal lineReturn to Case Studies


When I joined StayFriends the company’s UX practice was still in its very early stages. While a few team members were hired as UX Designers, their tasks primarily consisted of executing UI design tasks based solely on stakeholder demands. This waterfall-like process made production slow, caused friction between the teams, and led to results that weren’t impacting KPIs as we’d hoped. User Engagement was dropping. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, the user experience wasn’t getting the needed attention. As Creative Director, I built a new design process that would increase our efficiency and effectiveness in collaboration with product management and engineering, including user testing and feedback in the early stages.


Without the involvement of customers in the design process, StayFriends relied on feedback only after development and final release. As a result, the process became increasingly less efficient and effective as the project grew. In addition, the old approach had many elements where UX and product management competed instead of cooperation.

Defining Roles

Workshop Post'its

I began making changes by getting everyone on the same page. Running a series of workshops defining roles and expectations with designers and product managers, we decided that product management would focus on business needs and supply KPIs as a team. At the same time, UX would start involving customers to evaluate user needs as the first step to improvement. In doing so, we were able to reduce the time from concept to final UI design from months to weeks and get early feedback based on real users long before development.

Engineering Engagement

Ideation Workshop

With product management and UX working together more seamlessly, we committed to integrating better with engineering. To decrease the time spent on development while increasing the design accuracy and consistency, we built a modular design system based on Atomic Design that could live in both worlds.

I firmly believe that including different perspectives in your design increases its value, so I included product managers and engineers in ideation sessions to find the best concepts. This did not only improve our design solution but also led to more commitment from the team since each discipline was involved and heard during the concept phase.

Decentralized Design

decentralized design

With improved collaboration between disciplines, including usability testing, user interviews, and collaborative ideation in our design process, we were ready to decentralize design. All UX designers fully integrated into product squads and their SCRUM processes to further enhance how impactful our feature teams could be. To ensure UX consistency, continued development of the designers, and team cohesion, I established regular design reviews and team meetings.

Design Sprints

Taking what we have learned, I was able to implement design sprints as a quick way to handle tough feature decisions. We successfully ran design sprints as a team and were able to release new and exciting features to our users.


User-centricity can only be achieved in partnership with other disciplines. Trying to gain more user focus only by talking about the benefits will not yield the proper results. Approaching this organizational change like you would a typical design issue and inviting diverse perspectives is essential in finding the right solution for the setup at hand.