An Introduction into the World of Design Thinking.
Take a look around you…at the things you use in your daily life…your phone, laptop, house, or whatever it is…
Everything has gone through some sort of design process.
Nothing human-made in this world would exist without an element of design.
Now, a lot of people think you have to be artistic to go into design, BUT art and design are two very different things. Let me explain…
Art is a creation based on the artist’s personal interests and it is open to interpretation. What is created is based on rules that the artist creates to communicate a unique perspective they have of the world.
On the other hand…
Design is a creation that solves a specific problem that is not about the designer at all. A designer’s personal taste is not important, as it is all about the end-user and what they need.
How all these problems are solved is through a process known as design thinking that designers/creators use.
It is the non-linear way to solving a problem. Any challenge faced can be solved using this way of thinking. No design process is linear, but instead, it is meant to be iterative. It is a mindset that helps us approach challenges around us in a way to solve them innovatively while keeping the consumer’s needs in mind.
This is just a more efficient approach to problem-solving in general.
Instead of researching for a long time without a plan in mind, which is something I used to do, design thinking speeds up the process by creating prototypes and testing how effective they are. It is taking in feedback from the end-user and iterating on your design until they respond positively to it.
Basically, this design process provides teams with a structured and scalable way to approach new problems.
There are 5 main stages to design thinking
To create desirable and meaningful products/services, you need to understand who your users are and what they need. Observe them with empathy, which means withholding judgment and not making any assumptions.
This can be done through:
- Lean canvas
- User research. Identify who you need to interview and where to find them.
- Competitor Analysis
- Customer journey maps. Put yourself in their shoes and map down what they would say, think, do and feel when approaching a problem. Speak to them to get their perspective and to see what they face day-to-day.
After gathering all the insights from the empathize stage, you will need to analyze all the findings. This is called “synthesizing”.
At this stage, your goal is to define the problem while keeping the user in focus.
This is probably the hardest stage of the process.
Now that you have a clear problem statement, it’s time to get ambitious and explore possible solutions. At this stage, it is important to keep in mind the user and the problem.
Common methods and tools of doing this:
- Design sprints
- Rapid prototyping. (I like to use Figma to mess around with some wireframes when approaching app designs)
- Sketching. This is a great way to ideate quickly and explore. They don’t have to be good. It’s the idea that matters.
- Research existing designs to your problem and see how you can evolve existing designs.
- Combine two existing things and making a new product out of the two. For example, smartwatches (phone+ watch= smartwatch)
- SCAMPER: A creative thinking technique, that stands for: substitute, combine, adapt, modify/maximize/minify, put to another use, eliminate, and reverse.
In the end, just have a few ideas that can be moved forward to be built roughly and tested.
The objective of the prototyping stage is to turn your ideas into something tangible which can be tested on REAL users. These are not meant to be perfect and are built to see how they are going to be accepted by the end-user.
Common methods and tools:
- landing pages with the intent of the product.
- static web/app builds ( like using webflow.com for quick no-code environment)
- design prototypes
- lean web apps ( using bubble.io for example)
Time to test your prototypes on actual users.
The testing phase will quickly highlight any design flaws that need to be addressed. Once tested on end-users, you can go back to one or several stages and iterate on your design with feedback gained during this phase.
Common methods and tools:
- Analytics ( google, mixpanel, hotjar…)
- User testing ( customer interviews) — — go directly to who you are targeting and get their input, so you can iterate on your design.
How can one become better and faster using design thinking?
The real answer is that there is no quick way to get better at this. It all comes with time and practice.
I don’t consider myself to be an expert but, by being ruthless, by practicing the process, and by reflecting on the results I have, I can see what works and what doesn’t, so one day I can be one.
This way over time, you will be able to build your own library of best practices that can justify your designs rather than always depending on the web.
Now Get Started…
Here are a few resources that helped me get started and learn the process of design:
Hope this helps.
Signing off… Farah El Siss.