The design-thinking ideology asserts that a hands-on, user-centric approach to problem-solving can lead to innovation, and innovation can lead to differentiation and a competitive advantage. This hands-on, user-centric approach is defined by the design-thinking process and comprises 6 distinct phases.

Design Thinking Process Overview

  • Empathize: Conduct research in order to develop knowledge about what your users do, say, think, and feel.
  • Define: Combine all your research and observe where your users’ problems exist. In pinpointing your users’ needs, begin to highlight opportunities for innovation.
  • Ideate: Brainstorm a range of crazy, creative ideas that address the unmet user needs identified in the define phase. Give yourself and your team total freedom; no idea is too farfetched and quantity supersedes quality.
  • Prototype: Build real, tactile representations for a subset of your ideas. The goal of this phase is to understand what components of your ideas work, and which do not. In this phase, you begin to weigh the impact vs. feasibility of your ideas through feedback on your prototypes.
  • Test: Return to your users for feedback. Ask yourself ‘Does this solution meet users’ needs?’ and ‘Has it improved how they feel, think, or do their tasks?’
  • Implement: Put the vision into effect. Ensure that your solution is materialized and touches the lives of your end users.

The Advantage

Why should we introduce a new way to think about product development? There are numerous reasons to engage in design thinking, enough to merit a standalone article, but in summary, design thinking achieves all these advantages at the same time:

  • It is a user-centered process that starts with user data, creates design artifacts that address real and not imaginary user needs, and then tests those artifacts with real users.
  • It leverages collective expertise and establishes a shared language and buy-in amongst your team.
  • It encourages innovation by exploring multiple avenues for the same problem.
  • Flexibility, Adapt to Fit Your Needs.
  • Scalability, Think Bigger.

The Take-Away

In essence, the Design Thinking process is iterative, flexible and focused on collaboration between designers and users, with an emphasis on bringing ideas to life based on how real users think, feel and behave.

Design thinking tackles the complex problem by:

  1. Empathising: Understanding the human needs involved.
  2. Defining: Re-framing and defining the problem in human-centric ways.
  3. Ideating: Creating many ideas in ideation sessions.
  4. Prototyping: Adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping.
  5. Testing: Developing a prototype/solution to the problem.

References

More Readings,

In research of human subjects, a survey is a list of questions aimed at extracting specific data from a particular group of people. Surveys may be conducted by phone, mail, via the internet, and sometimes face-to-face on busy street corners or in mal...

A persona in user-centered design and marketing is a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative p...

Usability Testing refers to evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users. Typically, during a test, participants will try to complete typical tasks while observers watch, listen and takes notes.  The goal is to identify an...

A content inventory is a collection of data about your content. Unlike the content audit, which is qualitative, the inventory is quantitative. It's a comprehensive list – typically a spreadsheet – of all content assets, ideally across all content...

A cognitive map (sometimes called a mental map or mental model) is a type of mental representation which serves an individual to acquire, code, store, recall, and decode information about the relative locations and attributes of phenomena in their ev...

Capturing the day-to-day context in which people engage with your product or service This captures what customers do, think, and use as they set out to achieve a goal that involves your product or service. It provides a framework that desig...