What is Design Thinking?
Design Thinking is a methodology that has become increasingly widespread in many companies to create products and services ensuring that users will be an active part of the creation process. This technique can be used both when launching a project and to improve an existing one. It is a way of solving problems through the creativity of the entire team involved.
Where does Design Thinking come from?
Design Thinking emerged in San Francisco in the 70s, but Tim Brown was one of its promoters in 2008 when he published an article in the Harvard Business Review in which he spoke about Design Thinking.
Some Design Thinking techniques have been used in sociology or anthropology for years. Nowadays it is a trend to use it in the business world.
Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success. – Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO
What is the core of Design Thinking?
Empathy. Through this empathetic gaze, we can discover what the real needs of users are and put ourselves in their shoes, detect pain points, and improve those points.
Ideation. When we start a multitude of ideas begin to appear, many of them end up being discarded or saved for later, but many others can be embraced to come up with an interesting solution.
Experiment. In this methodology, everyone works and contributes to the project. All contributions are taken into account to get quick feedback from the people you are designing for.
When we put the user at the center of the investigation we can discover aspects that on many occasions we would not have imagined. Design Thinking not only encourages empathy, but it also discovers and experiments through different techniques that we will mention later.
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What is the Design Thinking process?
Design Thinking offers a series of work dynamics that focus on users. If we implement it at the starting point of a project, it will allow us to solve problems based on the needs of users since techniques are applied to promote empathy and understand them in depth.
Design thinking does not follow a linear process. It can be iteratively circulated through its different phases, according to the needs of the project. Sometimes we detect problems that can send back to the beginning.
There are different ways of planning the process, this is one of them based on the Double Diamond model popularized by the British council in 2005. It was an adaptation of the model proposed in 1996 by Béla H. Bánáthy, who proposed that the design process should have of four phases:
In this image we can see the different stages of the Design Thinking process, sometimes it goes back to one of the phases if necessary, and in most cases, it ends in a test stage of the idea. This part of testing, on many occasions, makes it necessary to iterate. Iterate allows the project to become more valuable.
It is in this first diamond when the team empathizes. It is time to put aside biases and think that we are not the user. The needs and issues to be resolved are studied in depth.
Some techniques used in the discovery phase and useful templates:
- Empathy map: With this tool, we can understand the user’s point of view and understand their problems or needs.
- User Persona: We develop a user model. Analyzing their motivations, way of life, and aspects such as the use of technology, age, work situation, we will be able to understand what frustrations they usually face when using our service.
- In Out: It will help us to understand what the project’s limits are.
It is time to organize the insights. With all the investigations carried out in the discovery phase, we can define the project and the scope from a greater understanding of user needs.
Some techniques and templates:
- Shadowing: Shadowing helps to study how the user interacts with our product in the day to day. We observe from a distance, without intervening to avoid contaminating their decisions.
- Qualitative interview: It is usually an interview with the end-user of the project we are working on. It helps us to get to know them better, and they have the opportunity to propose improvements and express what their pain points are. It is necessary to prepare the questions well in advance and not fall into the error of asking what we want to hear, but go with an open-minded attitude and listen.
The second diamond encourages the team to respond to previously defined problems and start designing the prototype. It is usually a very fun part of the process in which everyone seeks inspiration and collaborates and co-creates to get a design that meets the needs of the project.
- Concept Sketch. They are a set of drawings that show an idea. It is easier to express something with drawings than with words, you have to lose the fear of blank paper and start drawing, no matter how you do it, the important thing is to express ideas about the prototype.
- Wireframes. They are low fidelity designs that allow us to get an idea of the functionalities and structure of the project without spending time developing the visual layer.
The delivery stage involves testing different proposals and solutions, to be able to reject those that do not work or do not fit and to develop in-depth those that fit with what we were looking for.
As we have mentioned before, iterating is vital in Design Thinking to spot errors early and to get a product that meets all the requirements both at the end-user and business level.
Adopting the Design Thinking methodology to develop a product is a great workload for the UX team in terms of planning and choosing the different dynamics of co-creation that will be carried out with stakeholders, but it is worth investing time in it in since that guarantees that the projects will have a complete understanding of the end-user, which increases the chances of success in the business.