Design thinking is the union between design creativity and business intelligence, with the final touch of customer experience. So, in other words, it is the use of typical designers thinking to solve problems and innovate with a customer focus creatively.
It’s impossible to understand this process and its business transformation potential in so few sentences. Want to understand everything about this digital business trend?
So, read on and enjoy the content.
What is design thinking?
Design thinking is a creative methodology for problem solving and innovation, adapting design thinking to the business world.
The process involves a deep understanding of the user, guiding the development of solutions and strategies focusing on people’s well-being and satisfaction.
Historically, recognition of a unique “way of thinking” in design dates back to the 1970s. But the term was popularized by Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, in the early 1990s.
According to Brown, this is the closest definition of the term:
“The design thinking is a human-centric approach to innovation that uses the design toolkit to integrate people’s needs, technological possibilities and requirements for business success.”
In other words: the designer’s point of view can transform the way companies create products, services, processes, and strategies, balancing human needs with technological and economic feasibility.
As an area of knowledge that unites functionality and aesthetics, design can contribute with tools that broaden the vision of solving problems, focusing on human experience to develop innovative solutions.
In practice, there is no single formula for applying design thinking but a set of rules and techniques that guide the process of immersion, experimentation, and creativity.
How does it work?
Design thinking works from abductive review, which is the root of creative thinking.
This vision allows for the free association of ideas and conclusions based on experiences and perceptions, not just facts or intuitions.
It’s a method of discovery, which gets rid of all the pre-established baggage to reach the new — in this case, create revolutionary solutions.
It can be applied to capture the consumer’s mindset and illustrate opportunities based on people’s needs.
In the design thinking process, you arrive at the most innovative solutions through experimentation and immersion in the user’s reality, going through several learning stages before realizing your ideas.
Therefore, the design approach has been changing the way companies create value, redirecting the focus from the product to the customer.
Steps of design thinking
Therefore, the design thinking process is in five steps: empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, and testing.
Let’s get to know each of them in detail.
Empathy is the starting point of design thinking, as it refers to a deep understanding of people’s needs, desires, and motivations. In the corporate context, it is time to gather all possible information; and obtain an overview of the customer, mapping their pain, expectations, and aspirations.
For this, remember the meaning of empathy: the ability to put yourself in the other’s shoes to understand their point of view and behavior. Unlike common audience research approaches, design thinking requires that you perceive the consumer with a neutral eye, listening carefully to their needs.
This way, you will have a real sense of the audience profile, not a set of assumptions and judgments.
The second stage is dedicated to defining the problem based on the information collected.
At this point, you should gather all the findings from the empathy exercise and ask the following questions:
- What difficulties and obstacles is this consumer-facing?
- So, What patterns of behavior can be observed?
- What does value mean to this consumer?
- Finally, what is the main problem we need to solve
This process should be carried out as a team to arrive at the consumer’s central problem from various hypotheses and perspectives.
Only then will you open the way to finding the best solution.
The ideation phase marks the beginning of the development of solutions since the consumer’s problem is already clear to everyone.
This is where creativity kicks in, with ideation sessions that can use techniques like brainstorming, mind mapping, and bodystorming to generate innovative ideas.
The important thing is to consider all points of view and avoid prejudgments, allowing ideas to flow freely to arrive at new solutions.
It is the famous “thinking outside the box” which materializes in insights for the team.
So, at the end of this step, you should have a list of the best solutions selected.
In the prototyping phase, the ideas are into practice in their first version.
The prototype, in this case, is any materialization of the solution that allows the user to interact, from an initial version of an application to a mock-up.
Here, you can create a step and process design, a landing page for A/B testing, wireframes, demos, and physical models that enable feedback on your idea.
That way, the team can validate, improve or reject the solution, redirecting the creation as needed.
Finally, in the testing phase, the solution will be user-tested.
You can create an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and test acceptance with a specific group of consumers. For example: using feedback to improve the solution.
The aim is to experiment by doing and using learning to continue the improvement cycle.
That’s because design thinking doesn’t end with testing, and redesign is a constant task to innovate with quality.
Thus, you will undoubtedly have to go back to the previous steps many times, continually evolving to offer the best solutions.
Design thinking tools
Design thinking encompasses several tools that help put its principles into practice.
Discover some of the most used.
The famous “brainstorming;” or simply brainstorming, is one of the most used tools to generate new ideas in the design thinking process. In the ideation phase, gather people around a problem and start the constant flow of ideas to become brilliant solutions.
It is necessary to have a mediator responsible for inspiring the participants with references and guiding the most appropriate solutions.
So, an empathy map is a collaborative tool that allows the team to delve into the target audience’s universe and understand their needs.
It’s a diagram made up of some critical questions about the user:
- What does he think and feel?
- What does he listen to?
- So, What does he see?
- What does he say and do?
- What are your pains and goals?
These and other questions use for the initial exercise of empathy, in which the professional puts himself in the consumer’s place and adopts their point of view.
Bodystorming is similar to brainstorming but uses role-play or role-playing to simulate the application of ideas.
With this tool, the team can act out a problem or situation; and act as if it were using the proposed solution, using body movements and interaction to test the hypotheses.
It is practically a theatrical scene where each team member has a role to play; the mediator acts as a narrator of the story.
Technology in design thinking
Design thinking is inseparable from technology, and it also depends on digital solutions to improve the process. It would help if you used appropriate tools to collect, store, organize, and process information at each step.
This way, the software is used to carry out research, manage tasks, create prototypes, and other essential functions. In the empathy phase, it is necessary to have systems that bring the team closer to the audience; and facilitate immersion in their universe.