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Thinking is a trait that separates human beings from the other creatures dwelling on earth. While thought leads to ideas, structuring this thought and identifying a pattern for it helps in implementing the ideas in real life. Many businesses around the globe have identified this need and are now looking to address the gaps before the market catches up.
Design thinking is one such way forward for businesses to ideate and deliver products, projects, and services seamlessly.
Design thinking is a non-linear process that helps teams and businesses understand the goals of the user, challenge innate estimations, redefine issues and problem statements, develop innovative practical solutions, et al. In this regard, human beings are at the core of design thinking processes and the results depend largely on this human point of view.
Design thinking brings together technology solutions, thought processes, and economic strengths to deliver a desirable, feasible, and viable solution to businesses and customers. Design thinking ensures a well-defined approach to enhancing customer experience and streamlining daily business operations. Design thinking is a human-centric method to make your ideas practically implementable.
The term ‘Design thinking’ was coined by cognitive scientist and Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon in 1969. However, this idea did not stop there. It continues to grow today as it sees wider application among teams, businesses, products, services, and technology. Nowadays, design thinking can be used almost anywhere. It assists in streamlining the flow of the idea from its initial stage to the delivery or execution phase.
The central goal of design thinking processes is to build products that are easy to use, accessible, affordable, and robust. Instead of making your customers adapt to the nature of your business, your products adapt to provide everything your customers are looking for.
Design Thinking’s Phases
Design Thinking is an iterative process that has five discrete yet interconnected phases. While teams can run all the phases parallelly, they can all be used independently as well. These steps or phases include the following:
In this phase, teams and businesses research their consumer’s behaviors and the market trends. This is needed to gain an empathetic view of the problem statement. In this case, empathy is crucial since it helps businesses garner data and insights to back the assumptions made to build the product. Understanding how your user is likely to communicate with the product and why they will use it helps businesses answer all the questions any consumer may have
This is the phase when all the information and data gathered during the initial Empathy phase is cleaned to address the needs and wants of your users. Observing how users interact, their responses help build human-centric products. These products in turn create an added value proposition for the business in the long run since most questions revolving around the need and the role of the product are already being addressed.
Ideation is one of the most important phases in the process of design thinking. This is the step when you can challenge the assumptions or improve the accuracy of the assumptions by collating the data gathered above and the ideas you’ve developed thereof. The uniqueness of the product, the core selling points, are all to be defined in this stage. Brainstorming, tech-backed insights, focus group studies all help advance this phase further.
Prototyping is an experimental phase in the process of design thinking. This is when a scaled-down test product is developed based on the assumptions, ideas, and data gathered from the consumers. This prototype must resolve the problems listed under the problem statements and also create value for the customers that go beyond delivering the answers to the problems mentioned. It also includes addressing aspects such as usability, affordability, optimization, et al.
This is the last phase in the process of conventional design thinking. Testing involves using the prototype to solve the problems mentioned in the problem statement in the real world, in real-time. The product testers evaluate all the necessary functions of the app and may also advise changes to the same. If there are issues still present in the test software, the problems are redefined and the ideation stages are retraced. The prototype may also need to be re-engineered according to the suggested insights from the testing phase.
Besides, none of these stages has a definite order. You can use any of the steps mentioned above to garner valuable insights and data about the product and its consumers. These phases are merely different modes that contribute to the overall project rather than a series of sequential steps.
Design thinking goes beyond user interface and user experience design. Although it is an integral component of UI/UX, design thinking can be used across processes such as pipeline management, software development, supply chain management, among others. Yet, most businesses employ design thinking methods in the core development of UI/UX-related architectures only.
For instance, how a user reacts to the use of colors on a mobile app, the number of clicks required to add items to your cart, information available on the platform, outgoing links, arrangement of the pages of the app, all need backing in design thinking. This helps the UI/UX designer to create a seamless flow throughout the app and provide a greater value proposition for the users.
Using these design thinking methods also helps teams perform more well-directed research, accurate prototyping, and comprehensive testing at par with the needs of the modern age. It helps understand and mitigate the problems arising out of changing business environments and consumer behaviors. In this respect, learning the fundamentals of design thinking helps UX/UI designers curate their strategies for an immersive yet simple customer experience.