Many transnational conglomerates all hold certain things in common when it comes to their organizational operations as well as their company outreach, such as utilizing cutting-edge thinking, problem-solving and solution-oriented practices. From car companies such as Toyota to tech companies like I.B.M. and Apple – there are undeniable commonalities in how they work. For instance, many of these big-name companies will use similar project management methodologies to manage high-level projects.
These companies also solve complex problems in order to create complex products. Complex problems require complex solutions. That’s one of the philosophies that underpin design thinking.
But what is design thinking? We’ll be exploring just the answer to this question today, alongside unpacking the five unique stages of the design thinking process.
What is Design Thinking?
In a nutshell, design thinking solves problems that put the end-user or consumer at the forefront of the process. This process involves observing how people interact with the world and their products and taking an iterative, practical approach to creating innovative solutions to pain points – or problems. You can lay all this out in a template for creative processes.
As we mentioned earlier, design thinking as a process takes place over five separate stages. You can find detailed explanations for each of these stages below.
Stage 1 – Empathise
The first stage is to empathize or attempt to understand your intended customer or user. Some companies make the mistake of trying to predict what consumers want with minimal critical thinking.
This can naturally result in designing products based on assumptions over research, the impacts of which can be catastrophic to any company’s profit margins. When corporations guess what their customers want, they can launch products that are intrinsically destined to fail.
Design thinking places empathy at the front and center of its methodology. The first step is to get to know who you are solving a problem for – in this case, the end-user. A company must understand that end-users needs, barriers, aspirations, attitudes, and opinions.
This will unlock innovative solutions to these needs. Product designers can empathize with their defined end-user by actively engaging with targeted consumers, either by conducting interviews or running focus groups in order to better understand the needs of their target audience.
Stage 2 – Define
The second stage in the design thinking process is about gaining a definition. In this step, you’ll gather all the insights you’ve developed by talking to consumers and listing them. You’ll list consumer needs, barriers, pain points, lifestyle information, and other influences. This will inform the solutions you are designing for the consumer.
At the ‘define’ stage, design thinkers are encouraged to look for patterns, themes, and trends. Analyze these for unmet needs or unexpected barriers in order to deliver a creative brief, drawing on strategic insights and inspiration from your consultations with consumers. This will inform your design teams and the thought leaders in your organization.
Once your design challenge has been identified and clearly defined, you can move to the next step – ideation and collaboration.
Stage 3 – Ideate and Collaborate
This is where the fun really begins. As you’ve worked to understand the consumer and developed a better picture of the exact problems you need to solve, you can begin designing solutions for that shaped picture. Your creative juices should be brought to the forefront here, as you’ll be expected to brainstorm and get wildly inspirational.
Although multiple professional skill sets may be involved in the ideation phase, your design folks are likely to be leading the way. That being said, everyone needs to come to the table and agree on the solutions that you’ll be developing at this stage of your collective design thinking journey.
During this stage, you’ll brainstorm, build a mind map, and cover the walls of your workspace with sticky notes. All of these methods will be useful in developing ideas and collaborating. Once you’ve developed a brief, it’s also highly recommended that you do a S.W.O.T. analysis to put your ideas to the test. This stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Conducting a S.W.O.T. analysis will help determine if your ideas are viable.
Stage 4 – Prototype
Now you’ll come to create a prototype of the product. A prototype means a working, living design of the final product. This may take many shapes depending on your sector. It could be a mock-up of a new website, a walk-through retail experience, a new sales journey, or any other working example to preface delivery of a final, finished product.
The idea here is to rapidly iterate on the prototype, trying different things and making changes as you build it. Again, be creative and courageous in your design. It is not uncommon to change a prototype multiple times during this phase. You should feel encouraged to iron out any issues as they present themselves, even if it may mean developing a whole new prototype. Your team’s input will be invaluable when it comes to correcting preliminary faults, as it’s beneficial to have as many eyes on your prototype as possible before you spend time or other resources on product testing, which brings us to stage 5!
Stage 5 – Test with the User
The final stage is to test the prototype with the consumer. Get your prototype in front of users, or bring them to it if it’s a real-world experience such as a new shopfront.
Take the prototype to focus groups, or invite consumers to come and test it themselves. An incentive will help here; a dollar value remuneration is a great way to get people through the door to test your prototype.
It’s also recommended that you ask open-ended questions throughout the product testing phase rather than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. We recommend preparing a list of questions beforehand. Some suggestions include asking “how was the experience for you?” or “what could make it better?”
A Creative Conclusion
In this helpful article, we’ve outlined the five stages of design thinking. Also how they all relate back to the process of product and UX design and development. By now, you’re a design thinking apprentice, and hopefully, you’re ready to work to develop your own product or experience using these principles.
Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for advice from a trained professional. By using this website, you agree that Design Free Logo Online cannot and will not be held liable for any action taken as a result of using the information in this article.