In simple words, design thinking is both an ideology and a process, concerned with solving complex problems in a highly user-centric way.
In this blog, I will give you a detailed definition, illustrate exactly what the process involves, and underline why it matters. What is the value of Design Thinking, and when is it particularly useful? All sound a little overwhelming? Don’t worry– I have broken the guide down into digestible chunks.
What is Design Thinking?
It is a solution-focused, problem-solving methodology that helps companies, and individuals alike to get the desired outcome on an inner problem, or to work forward on a plan. It allows the user of the system to have a more structured plan for understanding innovation and to grow more as a company.
Why Is Design Thinking Important Today?
Over recent decades, it has become crucial to develop and refine skills that allow us to understand and act on rapid changes in our environment and behavior. The world has become increasingly interconnected and complex, and design thinking offers a means to grapple with all this change in a more human-centric manner.
It drills on imagination, intuition, logic and systematic reasoning to churn out chances of what could be and also deliver results that satisfy the end-user. And feeds on the designer’s sensibilities to fulfill people’s needs with what is technologically viable. It uses brings to strategies and business methods that target customer value and market opportunity.
Design Thinking Process
How is the design thinking process different from the usual innovation process? The conventional innovation process consists of 4 stages – ideate, define, design and develop. These stages have to be synced efficiently to foster innovation in an organization. On the other hand, the design thinking process has 5 stages- empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test.
Instead, design thinking welcomes the multi-dimensionality of a dynamic process and we have the liberty to juggle the stages in a manner that complies with our workflow or turns the thinking process awesome.
The process brings out more ideas and refers to more choices. It is then our job to determine the fate of these ideas by making our choices. The process is more of a diverging and converging process as against the linear innovation process.
Design Thinking Principles
1. The human rule
No matter what the context, all design activity is social in nature and any social innovation will bring us back to the “human-centric point of view”.
2. The ambiguity rule
Ambiguity is inevitable, and it cannot be removed or oversimplified. Experimenting at the limits of your knowledge and ability is crucial in being able to see things differently.
3. The redesign rule
All design is redesign. While technology and social circumstances may change and evolve, basic human needs remain unchanged. We essentially only redesign the means of fulfilling these needs or reaching desired outcomes.
4. The tangibility rule
Making ideas tangible in the form of prototypes enables designers to communicate them more effectively.
The Five Phases of Design Thinking
It is the foundation of the whole design thinking process. Using a beginner’s mindset and immersing yourself in the user’s experience is a great way to uncover deep needs and insights.
Here we combine all the insights collected at the time of listening and observing people. We start to synthesize and face the challenge ahead of us. That means we start to define a problem.
An aspect that design thinking proves vital at is clearly framing a problem so that we end up devising solutions and exploring opportunities. Try framing the problem correctly so that more avenues and solutions open up.
So, now as the problem or the opportunity is framed, we can search for methods to handle it. We should spur as many ideas as possible. Yes, we brainstorm or ideate. It is crucial that during this phase we don’t ignore ideas that seem obvious or easy. Any idea can sprout a brilliant concept. So, make sure to look into every idea with a fresh mindset.
Design thinking even encourages a team approach to brainstorming and very rightly promotes multi-disciplinary teams that bring across varied outlooks. This produces better outcomes. To finalize this stage, we shortlist the best and leave the rest.
Prototyping brings the solutions into vision. Different methods are involved in it such as sketching, rapid prototyping, and many others. No matter whatever method you opt, the core purpose of this stage remains the same, that is, we intend to create rough drafts of solutions to decide if these will prove beneficial for the problem.
After prototyping comes user testing, but it’s important to note that this is rarely the end of the Design Thinking process. In reality, the results of the testing phase will often lead you back to a previous step, providing the insights you need to redefine the original problem statement or to come up with new ideas you hadn’t thought of before.
The Power of Design Thinking
It empowers designers to create the right features for the right people. It ensures that designers deal with problems that users have in real life. Thus, they can avoid creating something undesirable. Design thinking enables designers to pass the right decisions when it comes to forming features.
Yes, building features are simple; however, the real trick lies in forming the right features for the right people. The concept allows designers to pose the right questions, create the right features and engage with the clients effectively. They can calculate whether a particular feature will fit in the product or if it will serve a real user problem.
Benefits of Design Thinking at work
As a designer, you have a pivotal role to play in shaping the products and experiences that your company puts to market. Integrating Design Thinking into your process can add huge business value, ultimately ensuring that the products you design are not only desirable for customers but also viable in terms of company budget and resources.
1. Significantly reduces time-to-market
With its emphasis on problem-solving and finding viable solutions, Design Thinking can significantly reduce the amount of time spent on design and development—especially in combination with lean and agile.
2. Cost savings and a great ROI
Getting successful products to market faster ultimately saves the business money. Design Thinking has can yield a significant return on investment; teams that are applying Design Thinking practices, for example, have calculated a whopping ROI of up to 300% as a successful outcome.
3. Improves loyalty and customer retention
Design Thinking ensures a user-centric approach, which boosts user engagement and customer retention in the long term.
4. Fosters innovation
Design Thinking is all about challenging assumptions and established beliefs, encouraging all stakeholders to think outside the box. This fosters a culture of innovation that extends well beyond the design team.
5. Can be applied company-wide
It is not just for designers but enhances group thinking and encourages cross-team collaboration. It can thus be a great asset that can be applied to be virtually any team in any industry.
So this was it. Whether you’re establishing a Design Thinking culture on a company-wide scale, or simply trying to improve your approach to user-centric design, Design Thinking will help you to innovate, focus on the user, and ultimately design products that solve real user problems.