Design thinking combines a users needs and desires with what is technologically feasible and economically viable. By following the design thinking process; empathise, define, ideate, prototype and test, the end product will have been trailed and tested to meet the users needs therefor, creating a more successful product.
We live and work in a world of interlocking systems, where many of the problems we face are dynamic, multifaceted, and inherently human.
It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are often hard to define, by understanding the human needs involved, and re-framing the problem with a human focus.
The initial stage of the design thinking process is to gain an empathic understanding of the people you are designing for and the problem you are trying to solve. To get the most out of this first stage, the goal is to remove any assumptions on the purpose of your design and gain insights from the end users.
To empathise is to research. Try constantly remind yourself to question everything you observe instead of judging it.
“If you want to build a product that’s relevant to people, you need to put yourself in their shoes.” Jack Dorsey, Programmer and Co-Founder of Twitter.
- Define the Problem
Defining the problem is the ultimate challenge. To solve a problem, one must understand it.
The defining stage allows for collaboration to discuss ideas and analyse and establish the features, functions and other elements of the design that will help solve the problem. You will collaboratively come up with a problem statement.
A problem statement is important to a design thinking project, because it will guide you and your team and provides a focus on the specific needs that you have uncovered.
This stage is about sparking off ideas and “thinking outside the box” in a brainstorming session of questions and answers. Ideation represents a process of “going wide” in terms of concepts and outcomes. Ideation provides both the fuel and also the source material for building prototypes and getting innovative solutions into the hands of your users.
The design team will now produce a number of inexpensive, scaled down versions of either the final product or individual features. This is an experimental phase, and the aim is to identify the best possible solution for each of the problems identified during the first three stages.
When conducting a user test on your prototype, it is ideal to utilise the normal environment in which your users would use the final product. If testing in a natural setting proves difficult, try to get users to perform a task, or play a role, when testing the prototype. The key is to get users to be using the prototype as they would in real life, as much as possible.
The testing stage should inform the understanding of the users, the conditions of use, how people think, behave and interact with the product and may lead to further iterations required.
In order to gain the purest and most informative insights for your particular project, these stages might be switched, conducted concurrently and repeated several times in order to expand the solution space, and zero in on the best possible solutions.