A human-centered approach to innovation, design thinking helps you integrate what people need, what technology can do, and what your business requires to make your project a success. Design thinking is about approaching challenges with a different mindset, focusing on understanding and empathizing with your users to find actions and solutions using practical and creative problem-solving techniques.
When to use design thinking?
Design thinking is an approach that can be applied to many aspects of life, from business and education to personal and social contexts. By encouraging creativity and innovation we are forced to consider alternative solutions, outside of normal patterns and habits that as human beings, we naturally create. By challenging assumptions you can put humans first, focusing on empathizing with your user, the real people using your products and services.
Step 1 — Empathize
The first phase is about getting to know the stakeholders of the problem. Collect as much information as possible, allowing you to understand their needs, wants and objectives. You will need to engage with people, setting aside assumptions to gather real insights about the user.
Step 2 — Define
Step 1 allowed you to collect information, now it’s time to make sense of it. What difficulties and pains are your users facing? Have you observed patterns in behaviors? The define stage is about creating a clear problem statement that puts your users at the center.
Step 3 — Ideate
Now that you have a solid base to innovate from – user research and a clearly defined problem – it’s time to get creative. This step is about coming up with as many different new ideas as possible, before narrowing down to a few which answer the problem statement best. There are many techniques you can use for the ideation process, from brainstorming and mind-mapping to alternative techniques that force creative thinking within your team.
Step 4 — Prototype
This phase of the process is focused on turning your ideas into real products, allowing you to experiment using prototyping tools. A prototype is a stripped down product, created to allow you to test, approve, improve, redesign or reject ideas. You have various options for prototyping, from paper-based low-fidelity prototypes to digital clickable high-fidelity prototypes.
Step 5 — Test
With a prototype ready you are now able to test your solution with your users, discovering whether it resolves the problem statement. It’s with this information that you can redesign the prototype or even redefine the problem if necessary. Often, this step will lead you back to a previous phase. With a flexible approach, you allow your team to create a product that truly puts users first.
The key benefits of applying design thinking.
Integrating design thinking into your process can bring huge value to your business. It’s about ensuring your products and experiences are desirable but also viable before they are designed and developed. By using design thinking frameworks you are reducing risks and cutting costs, which ultimately means you’re increasing profitability.