This article was originally written by Renuka Sharma and published here.
You have been hearing the words design thinking everywhere of late. Design conventions, product workshops, design Meetups, in the boardroom, at the cafeteria – name any place of congregation of people, and it’s abuzz with the term. This must have prompted you to look up the term on the web, which then led you to this page.
First things first – is not a new entrant in the long list of buzzwords that is either being used loosely by newbies or discussed fervently amongst product managers these days. Nor it’s the property of designers. As a matter of fact, it has long been practiced by stalwarts of music, literature, science, engineering and business.
Then what’s made design thinking so buzzworthy today? Why have some of the most iconic tech brands of our times – Google, Apple, Samsung – adopted design thinking approach? Why are some of the most elite institutions/universities in the world teaching the subject? Why are branding agencies making it mandatory for its design teams to adopt design thinking process?
Definition: Is an iterative process in which problem solvers strive to cognize the needs of users, contest their own assumptions, and redefine the problem at hand for the purpose of identifying myriad strategies and solutions that might not be obvious with their preliminary level of understanding.
To create robust products for the always-on user, it is essential that we understand his requirements. Design thinking enables companies and their design teams to observe and cultivate empathy for users. Being iterative in nature, it has designers questioning the problem, assumptions and results over and over again until a human-centered design led solution is arrived at, which is then prototyped and tested. If needed, the entire process is repeated until every stakeholder is convinced of the product’s usability and marketability.
What are the steps involved in design thinking?
While every brand identity agency or web design agency has its own approach towards design thinking, the fact is that almost every approach is similar. In essence, there are 6 most pertinent steps of design thinking:
- Researching and empathizing with users
- Defining user needs, problems
- Ideating for innovative solutions
What are the benefits of design thinking?
- It’s holistic: Design thinking involves number of people from several departments. More the number of inputs from people with varying levels of expertise, more perspectives for tackling the problem at hand.
- It’s scientific: Requires analyzing how users engage with products and examining the conditions in which they will use the product. Design thinking also entails investigating ambiguous elements for unearthing innovative strategies.
- It’s non-linear: The 5 steps enlisted above needn’t be sequential. The design team can use the results at each step to review and crystalise their suppositions, learnings, and results. This helps redefine the problem and open windows to new insights, which then can be used for arriving at alternatives.
- It’s for everybody: UX/UI agency, creative employees, freelancers, leaders – just about anyone who wishes to solve a greater range of problems.
- It encourages testing: Lots and lots and lots of it. No harm has ever come a user centered design agency’s way as a result of rethinking and testing over and over again.
Who is a design thinker?
Anyone who embodies the following characteristics can be a design thinker:
- Concern for humans and the environment they operate in
- Penchant for multi-functionality
- Love for teamwork
- Ability to visualize
- Systemic vision
- Prepared to use language as a tool
The take away
Design thinking is a problem solving, iterative process. It can not only be adopted by designers, but by anyone with a penchant for solving problems. It offers stakeholders the means for digging deeper for ways of enhancing user experience. At its heart is the intention to improve products by scrutinizing how users interact with them in different environments.